clarification, and questions

First, please excuse what may have seemed like an overreaction to Nancy’s kind words about looking forward to the next book in the series. I plead jet lag, and a virus. Second, I did start working on Queen of Swords as soon as Fire Along the Sky was finished — I just haven’t been working on it lately. I’ve got maybe 250 manuscript pages, and I’ll be going back to it relatively soon.

Generally I work on two projects at once. When one bogs down for whatever reason, I can work on the other. For the last two months I’ve been working primarily on Tied to the Tracks because that story has been cooking — which only means that things are flowing well for that story, at this moment. That will change. It always does. Then I’ll go back to New Orleans where Hannah is in a bit of a pickle at this moment. The reason the story bogged down for me is that a few new characters have just showed up, crucial characters to say the least, and I don’t have a handle on them yet. So I hope that puts everybody’s mind at ease.

Thank you all very much for taking the time to give me your reactions to Fire Along the Sky. I really, really appreciate feedback at this stage especially. I hope others will jump in. I’d be really pleased if people felt comfortable giving me specifics — what parts of the story they liked particularly, which characters had their attention, and also what didn’t quite work for whatever reason. I will answer questions, if you have any, where possible. Finally, for those who haven’t read the book and still intend to, I expect there will be some spoilers in the comments to this post, so you might want to stay away.

When I left for Europe I still hadn’t summarized my thoughts about the excursion into writing sex scenes — which I still intend to do. I also read a couple of interesting books while I was gone, which I’ll review in the next few days.

9 Replies to “clarification, and questions”

  1. Okay, these are the characters that REALLY had me going: Luke and Jennet? DEFINITELY WORKING! Loved it. Jennet as a little girl was a favorite character, so spunky and full of life, but as a woman she was even better. Luke was continually a pleasant surprise, so many layers under the exterior. Lily and Simon Ballentyne: OH MY GOODNESS. So perfect. I had fallen in love with Simon myself by the time Lily found herself shaving his beard off. I loved their storyline especially. I have more thoughts about Hannah that I will post later, because I need more time to think about it…

  2. This is going to be long, and I’d email it to you… but you seem to want posts on here instead of reviews by email…. so, here goes.
    I was so excited when my copy of Fire Along the Sky arrived this week. I actually held off reading it until the beginning of this holiday weekend… I knew I wouldn’t want to work once I started it. It is funny, I think too, that I intended to start my weekend with just a couple hours of skimming Lake in the Clouds before starting FAS. And then, as I read the first few pages of LITC, I got sucked into reading it word for word all over again (a bit faster than normal, but still all of it). I’m glad that I did re-read LITC first (and even referred back to Dawn on a Distant Shore a little bit for the parts about Jennet and Luke). It helped me get back into the mode of each of the characters.

    Now, I have just finished FAS and feel like I’ve been through an emotional whirlwind. It really is a wonderful novel, and you should be proud.

    I found myself laughing out loud and grinning many times, but also close to tears, and angry at others. Right now, I guess I’m mostly sad/mournful and worried about Jennet, Luke, Hannah, Daniel… I worry about Lily and that there is something a bit undefinable that is missing in her relationship with Simon.

    Speaking of Lily and Simon, I did like the beard scene, but was most thrilled with the scene that links to it later where Simon is reading a letter aloud to Lily and skips the sentence about the grumfie, because he doesn’t want her to hear what it means… _that_ was funny! I also liked the references to his lack of beard (and how Elizabeth and Nathaniel didn’t want to examine that too closely).
    You asked for things that we liked or things that worked for us…. well I loved having Jennet and Luke join the story line in more detail. We got these hints in LITC that Jennet wanted to visit, but then she never did, and I was sad that she hadn’t visited. So, it was a thrill to experience her arrival, and to witness her growing relationship with the people of Paradise. I also like that her hearing her stories or how people react to her stories helped provide a lighter side to this novel. In LITC, I loved watching Hannah develop her medical skills and Lily her artistic skills in her lessons with Mr. Oak. In FAS, I was excited to witness Lily’s trip to Montreal to develop her skills further, but was sad that we didn’t get any more details. In the future, if she does go on this grand tour of Europe (or some such thing), I’d want more detail of how being an artist influences her interactions with people. For example, I liked the scene where she drew the pictures of the soldiers in the cabin. I liked the scene where she distracted Callie and Martha by asking them to help her make her watercolor pigments. And I loved her ‘fight’ with Simon when she was getting the chemical she needed for her paints where she throws the bottle of rose oil. I love how it isn’t until later that Curiosity and Elizabeth break out laughing about it. I just had to laugh along with them.
    I liked how you used the letters (or court records) to move the story-line along.

    All in all, it really is a wonderful novel. It is tough to feel so unsettled, sad, and emotional at the end, but it just goes to show how much you’ve been able to draw me into caring about each and every one of these characters… so, much so that I don’t want anything bad to happen to them and I want them to all be happy at the end.

    Excellent work!!

  3. Wow, Danielle, THANKS. It’s wonderful to get such detailed feedback, and I’m thrilled to know you liked so much about this novel.

  4. Hello Sara!
    I just wanted to let you know that I have been LOVING your new book. Really. It is so wonderful to be with my friends at Lake in the Clouds again. Yes, there is an awful lot of tragedy, which is something I generally avoid in other fiction, but coming from you it is so compassionatly written and important to the characters, I don’t mind.

    I am not done reading yet, but I will write again when I am.

    BTW…Thank you for the inspiration for the name of my third son (due sometime in the next few weeks…). Nathanial will make a wonderful name.

    Gratefully yours,
    Christine

  5. Well, I was so desparate for more about the Bonners that the morning of August 31, when Barnes and Noble called, I ran and got my copy of Fire Along the Sky and read it in it’s entirety over the Labor Day weekend. Now, I am suffering because you cleverly set it up for more adventure involving Jennet and Luke but I have to wait another 6 months to a year to find out what happens. Frustrating!!! I think your publishers were wrong about timing this time. They should have planned the release of this book closely with the release of Queen of Swords. And I wish I could have been more patient and savored the book a chapter at a time to spread it out — but alas, I can’t with the Bonner clan!!! I do not understand why you didn’t let me know about Strikes the Sky. I also hate that he’s gone — their relationship was so intense and Hannah deserved the happiness. Now, if I can just learn patience, I will wait until your next sequel after Queen of Swords is done, then buy Queen of Swords and the next sequel. But, i probably won’t be that patient. And please take all of this heartbroken frustration as a compliment!!!! I understand how Nancy B. feels…..!

  6. Everytime I read a new book in this series I think “this is my favorite”, but then I finish it and realize there’s no such thing. It’s just one, big, wonderful story and I don’t know how well I’ll do waiting for the next installment!

    I loved the relationship between Luke and Jennet and have already had two fretful nights sleep worrying about them. I also loved the relationship between Simon and Lily and I really wish she’d tell him that she realizes now she wasn’t truly in love with Nicholas. That she didn’t really know what love was until she fell into it with Simon. *deep sigh* Maybe someday. But I’m a little concerned about what’s going on with her.

    I also enjoyed reading the letters and the court documents. And mostly I just thank you so much for sharing this gift with me!

    I do have a question, though. When Hannah is talking about the lake her son fell into and how in the spring she fell through the ice, but the lake below it had dried up — is that possible? My husband and I have had lengthy discussions on whether or not this is a true phenomenon and I was just curious as to whether this is something you’ve heard before.

  7. Jennifer asks about the hollow lake, if that is something that can actually happen. The answer is yes, it does happen, rarely, if conditions are right. I first read about it in an essay, then checked with a geologist. There has to be a very long cold snap early in the winter and then a very long period of no snow or precipitation. And the lake can’t be hugely deep to start with.

    Lovely to read all the impressions and thoughts, many thanks.

  8. Hi Sara –

    I just finished Fire Along the Sky and hold you responsible for my lack of sleep the last couple of days (I have to read after my little ones are in bed) but it was well worth the sleep deprivation.

    The book was like catching up with old friends and I was sorry for it to end. I miss my “friends” already. When I started the book I was surprised that the story began much later than I thought. After finishing the last book I wrongly assumed that this book would start with Hannah’s adventures in the west with her new husband. At first I was disappointed not to know more about her husband and her new life but as the book went along I was so engrossed with the development of the younger characters that I didn’t miss the Strikes the Sky story as much. You also gave enough details throughout the book to satisfy my curiosity.

    I liked how you put the letters between the family members in the story to explain certain events. The letters gave me insight into each character’s personality and explained what was pertinent to that character.

    I also really liked the story development of Lily and Simon but felt so bad for Nicholas Wilde. Feeling bad for a fictional character shows your talent for storytelling. What really happened to him anyway? Will we find out at a later date?

    Simon is a great Nathaniel filler as he seems to have a lot of the same characterizations as Nathaniel. As the focus changes to the younger characters it is nice to have someone in the story that is similar to one of the original characters but with enough personality to hold his own.

    I could go on and on about what I loved in the book but but I wanted to try and give you a few specifics that stood out to me. Now I just have to be patient and wait for my next visit with my “friends”.

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