Contest: The Clearing

May 28, 2010

As I’ve already mentioned, I love the 1940s and 1950s. Two of my favorite aspects of that era are the family life and the way men treated women–they were true gentlemen. In The Clearing, Henry came to life as a true 1940s gentleman (and yes, he had me sighing contently at even the simplest of actions, like when he offered Amy his embroidered handkerchief.)

To win a signed copy of Heather’s book share with me a character (from either a book or movie) from the 1940s or 1950s  that is a true gentleman.


Author Interview: Heather Davis

May 26, 2010

Everyone welcome Heather Davis, author of The Clearing, a YA time travel novel that brings sixteen-year-old Amy, recovering from an abusive relationship, back to 1944 where she meets eighteen-year-old Henry, who is stuck in an endless summer.

Interview Questions

1- Hello Heather.  Welcome and thank you for taking the time to stop by Damsels in Regress to talk with us.  What inspired this novel? Did you always envision it as a time travel story?

Thanks for having me!  So, I used to live in a small mountain town near a river, just like Amy.  I lived next door to a big open field where my neighbor grazed his cows and horses.  Often a mist would cover the field so completely, the big red barn at the end of the field would disappear.  I started wondering what was really behind that mist, and Henry Briggs came walking out – a boy stuck in the endless summer of 1944.  It began with Henry, so the story really begged to be a time travel novel.

2- I love the 1940s and 1950s, and one of the big reasons is the attitude of men towards women.  They were gentlemen in the truest sense of the word.  You did a great job of portraying that in Henry, through his actions, dialogue and thoughts.  What type of research did you do to help write Henry?

I love old movies — one helpful film was The Best Years of Our Lives – a 1946 film about men returning home from WWII.   As far as how people lived through the depression years up through the war, the older people in my life were a great resource.  I did research online, tapped an expert for help with dates and military stuff, and read an amazing book on the nurses of WWII.  I really enjoyed doing all this research.  While I wrote the book (especially Henry’s scenes) I listened to 1940s swing and 1930s standards.  It wasn’t hard to get into the mood.

Read the rest of this entry »


Book Review: The Clearing

May 24, 2010

The Clearing
Heather Davis
Time Travel
Grades 9-12
204 pages

Sixteen-year-old Amy, recovering from an abusive relationship at her Aunt Mae’s country home, finds a clearing on her Aunt’s property with a mysterious, seemingly endless mist hovering on the fringe. When curiosity brings Amy into the mist, she makes an amazing discovery—on the other side of the mist lives Henry, an eighteen-year-old boy stuck in the endless summer of 1944. Henry is well mannered and a true gentleman, everything Amy’s last boyfriend was not. She and Henry are drawn to each other and a new, sweet romance blossoms, but as the two times start to collide they realize they must face what is to come, even at the cost of losing each other.

Davis tells the story from alternating POVs and tenses. Amy is told in first person, while Henry’s is in third person. It was an interesting use of POVs. I always knew whose head I was in, and I didn’t find the altering POVs disruptive. I did relate more to Henry, probably because I am drawn to 1940s and 1950s “gentleman” type characters. Amy at times was a little weak and slightly selfish, but she was dealing with the aftermath of an abusive relationship, so her actions were believable.

I loved the contrast between Amy and Henry. Davis doesn’t hit you over the head with it, but shows us the differences in subtle ways through the actions of the two main characters. The 21st century has lost the innocence of the 40s and 50s. In today’s society, the 1940s gentleman is hard to find. Don’t get me wrong, the 1940s proper young lady is just as rare, and while I’m not advocating their return I do think society as a whole would benefit from the return of some of the values and way of life of the 1940s. And Davis managed to bring a little bit of that era back into this story.

I have to give Davis credit with how she handles the issues both Amy and Henry face. She isn’t preachy or radical, but portrays situations realistically. Another aspect I really like is the attention to detail that Davis includes in her descriptions; it really makes Henry’s world come alive. The story is well paced and the reader can relate to the characters. The Clearing is definitely worth the read.

And I’ll leave you with a quote from Aunt Mae, probably my favorite in the book:

“My dear, time is the one thing you should pay attention to. One day, you’ll find there’s never enough of it.” – pg 62.


Scurvy and Scuttlebutt

May 21, 2010

So the SCBWI New England conference wasn’t the only great thing about last weekend, not by a long shot.  The day before the conference, I got my first taste of Boston, Massachusetts, the city whose suburbs Jennifer has called home for several years.  I didn’t know what to expect, other than a fun day out with my dear blogging buddy and former SHU roommie.

I fell IN. LOVE. with Boston.  I want to move there.  Truly.  I am that in love.

Old North Church--isn't it lovely?

For true history nerds (which includes all three Damsels, to be sure), there is no better US city than Boston.  It’s like the American London–bustling and active but built on layers of history with a spirit of pride in its heritage.  In my one day to visit the city proper, I decided

We discovered these handy sidewalk plaques about halfway through our walk...

to spend it walking the Freedom Trail, a path that starts at Boston Commons and laces together historic halls, churches, houses, and a boat that has seen action since the early nineteenth century.  It’s three miles through twisted, cobbled lanes, clearly marked but only if you know what you’re looking for.

I loved every last minute.

Highlights of our walk included the cemetery in which lie John Hancock, Paul Revere, and Samuel Adams (yes, all in one place!), where Jennifer and I enjoyed reading the tombstones and trying to figure out why so many of them were topped with a winged skull.  We also loved the Old State House with its grand spiral staircase, Quincy Market with its myriad of lunch options (I got lobster salad, in honor of my dear friend Danna back in Seattle), and the Old North Church with its beautiful altar and its amazing role in our nation’s history (“one if by land, two if by sea,” anyone?).

We crossed the Charles River and visited the USS Constitution, one of the first ships commissioned by the US Navy.  These two Damsels learned while listening to the presentation below deck that we are even bigger history nerds than we realized: I knew right away why lime juice was mixed with sailors’ rum and whiskey (to prevent scurvy) and Jennifer knew that scuttlebutt became a term for military rumors long before our guide got to that part of his spiel.

USS Constitution--our last stop

Boston was amazing, and I am glad I was able to tour it with not only a local but a fellow history nerd.  Our nation’s struggle for freedom came so very much alive for me as we walked, and I will always cherish my trip down America’s great memory lane.


NESCBWI 2010 Conference

May 18, 2010

What Jennifer and Emilie learned:

DAY 1

Go read "Everywhere Babies" by Susan Meyers and Marla Frazee

  • Cynthia Leitich Smith is an entertaining speaker and that we should figure out what writing process works for us but allow it to change as needed.
  • Jennifer learned that she needs to finally breakdown and set up a twitter page for Damsels (and a facebook page)—STAY TUNED!
  • Emilie learned that there are a lot of grants, awards and residency opportunities for writers and Kim Ablon Whitney was sweet enough to compile a spread sheet for our convenience.
  • Buffet lunches aren’t always bad…however they are not conducive to LARGE conferences.
  • Allyn Johnston says that the mother of all page turns in a picture book is from page spread 30-31 on to page 32.  She also says don’t send her manuscripts until two months after the conference cause she doesn’t want to get them before the conference is even over, which the Damsels think is sound advice.
  • Final workshop of the day was an agent panel, where at this point Jennifer and Emilie were exhausted, but Jennifer liked Sarah Davis and Emilie fell in love with her British accent.
  • Last workshop is over but the day is not done for Jennifer.  She still had her Editor’s critique with Caroline Abbey from Bloomsbury…it went very well.

And so ends day 1…

Saturday after lunch 😀 We've still got energy at this point!

DAY 2

  • Today Jennifer and Emilie pretended to be nonfiction authors and attended three workshops on writing books and articles for the nonfiction market.
  • We learned that sometimes these two antisocial writers need time away from the crowds to hide in their car after lunch and rest.
  • We also learned that the afternoon of the second day of a conference is very long.

Cynthia Lieitich Smith at the book signing.


Happy Birthday!

May 14, 2010

Thanks to all our readers for making this past year a great success!

The year saw 142 posts.
437 comments were made.
And the site had 12,087 hits!

Thanks to all! Here’s to another great year! Happy Birthday, Damsels!


Quiz Time!

May 13, 2010

So how much did you learn this past year?

We thought it’d be fun to test your knowledge! We’ve each come up with a couple of questions. The answers can be found in our past blog posts. (Hint: The archive links to all the old posts!) So can you answer these questions? And to make it worth your time, we’re going to give the winner a signed copy of Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson.

So put your thinking cap on and answer away!

1. Jennifer interviewed this author about her historical novel that takes place in Venice during the 1700s.

2. In the article on Clothing in the 1800s wool was one of the most common fibers used for clothes. Before wool could be used it had to be carded. What is carding?

3. Who is the author of The Humming of Numbers, which Tricia reviewed?

4. What is the setting of The Lacemaker and the Princess?

5. Who did Emilie meet while touring the USS Alabama in Mobile?

6.  Name the ship that was sunk while carrying native-born Germans from Britain to Australia in 1940.