|Tommy Adkins Butterfly on Flower|
My dear Sharman,
Thank you. I listened as you read--I was overwhelmed--had difficulty trying not to cry!
Good readers like you almost always do well in English and history classes. You have amassed a veritable ton of historical research for Swimming with Serpents. I love the title and its alliteration; I've known quite a few "serpents." This is a well-done work--of course you can write--I am incredibly proud of my student.
I've read only a few chapters. The "Prologue" is good writing. You effectively "catch the reader's attention" . . . sentences flow into a great hook with a "tease" to turn the page. --You've chosen the right tone and point-of-view: third-person omniscient limited to Snow Bird; third person focused on Cade. --How many revisions had these few pages? Hemingway said he rewrote the last sentence of "F to A" thirty-odd times (I think)--why? "To get it right." The snowy bird of the first paragraph connects to the death of Snowbird as the white bird watches. And--that owl! In literature, an owl's hoot (as you know) = trouble, + owl, Athena's bird, the goddess of war. Yes! You've a recognizable analogue, too: The creator of the "Dr. Quinn" TV series had to bump off her "Snow Bird," Cloud Dancing's wife, in dramatizing the plight of the Cheyenne and--to have Cloud Dancing available to fall in love with the white, lady-newspaper editor. Surely that connection will be made by readers.
Oh, I notice all sorts of "stuff"--even "Beauty" and "Beast"! --My "Starlight," named for one of Almanzo Wilder's horses, died on my birthday when Durwood and I were in Louisville. --You've set a conflict between the twins: at first, Gabe is "killed"--will he become a "sacrificial" character? Also, Gabri-el: -el = God. Will he become a spiritual leader? In a few pages, your narrator had me laughing! --Any English paper making me laugh earned its "A" then-and-there.
Swimming with Serpents is simply superb. (Allow me an alliteration!) It should win some category of an award. Congratulations!
your English teacher!