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Snow-covered tree

Shanghai Noir

The Dancing Girl and the Turtle: publication date 01.04.2017

For a girl from Los Angeles, snow is a miracle. I love watching it fall, whether in the big fat clumps the Icelanders call dog's-feet-snow or blowing horizontally right into my face. Snow is magical on trees, bicycles and empty park benches. I could take snow photos forever.

But I hate the ice, the slush, the pulpy dredges that lurk at the curb, the prospect of crossing a slick bridge. Every step I take, I'm sure will be my last, if not in this life, then in my currently unbroken form.

Snow is good for writing. I can sit at my desk and marvel at the white world outside. My concentration even seems to improve when I know it's impossible to play outside. Thanks to the snowfall this week, I've finished rewriting version two of my novel manuscript for Peace Court.

It's taken a while. Each chapter is a mere 2,000 words long and still I need two to three days to weigh each word. Whether to use this adjective or that or none at all. How to convey a state of mind through detail or gesture. Where to place that key bit of dialogue.

Inching along at grass level has its benefits but what about when there's a problem with the trees that demarcate my fictional forest? I've had to uproot a few of those and grind them up for mulch.

No worries. I'm steaming ahead now toward version three. This time, the changes won't be quite so tectonic (I hope). I need to straighten out my time line, move a few minor characters into a front row seat, get the geography right.

Geography is one of the major reasons why so many dialects are spoken in China. Mountains and rivers and deserts keep outsiders away and the locals close. Yet linguistic diversity has its disadvantages, too, say, when you're trying to revolutionize a country. Speaking in Dialects is this week's blog post.

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