Last March we returned from a week’s vacation to find our dishwasher had been leaking while we were gone. The adjacent kitchen floor was buckled, but the worst damage was in the basement below, in our storage room. Boxes of books were ruined. And worst of all, the drip had completely soaked through an apple box labeled “LUNY CLUB ARCHIVES.”

The Luny Club is a 16-year old chapter book project based on my dad’s childhood gang. As I spread out the pages to dry on our patio, my interest was reignited by photos of the original gang in their fort, 1934 calendars, print-outs from microfiche of old Oakland Tribunes, notes from interviews with the two living (since deceased) Luny Club members, print-outs of versions of the manuscript, notes from generous and careful critiquers, sketches from Marcia Paschkis of playclothes of the era, multiple lists and charts that track episodes and scenes and emotions and characters through the plot — in short, hundreds of soaking wet pages.

As I restacked the dried-out index cards and crinkly pages, I felt again the spell that this project had cast all those years ago. Could I try to shape it again? Luckily, among the pages were notes about how to write a novel. The ideas on the page titled LYNN RAE PERKINS spoke to me, so I will recount them here. Lynn is the Newbery award-winning author of Criss Cross as well as author/illustrator of many picture and chapter books. I am not sure where or when I heard her lecture, but thanks to Lynn for these ideas.

  1. Tell in one sentence what the story is about.
  2. Tell in five sentences what the story is about.
  3. Find the parts you know work and put them next to each other.
  4. See the sparks.
  5. Make a list of episodes – what will happen and when.
  6. Consider each episode as it relates to the premise and the concept.
  7. Be aware of possibilities for humor – comedic timing.
  8. The first draft is like arranging furniture or blocking a play.

After waiting all those years in the basement, I think this material is ready for reimagining. With Lynn’s ideas to guide me, I am trying synthesize my Luny Club archives into a (new) first draft. On days when rain keeps me out of the garden, I work with the text: locating episodes that I think work and putting them side by side, looking for the sparks; trying out new sequences and arrangements. It is an enormous puzzle. On sunny days outside, as I weed, mulch and plant my way into Spring, I mull the story through.

Like the garden, I hope it will thrive after a good watering.

If you have tried-and true-strategies for revision, I would love to hear them.


  1. I so want the Luny Club to become a book. I love that picture of your father’s gang, too. It just glows with a different time, place and feeling. One that would be lovely to recreate.

  2. Although I am so sorry for the damage that the leaking dishwasher has caused to your archives in the storage room, I sure love this rescued photo of your father’s LUNY CLUB! May its story spring forth! Thank you, Laura, for sharing all of your advice gleaned from Lynn Rae Perkins, but especially your own Pacific Northwest balanced gardening/writing wisdom, which is so timely!

    • laurakvasnosky

      Thank YOU Gretchen — I so appreciate your support. And I know you get the garden thing — I see on FB that your garden is looking beautiful this spring!

  3. Wendy Wahman

    The photo alone pulled me in for a long time. I hope so much you’re able to save the photos and notes, Laura. This is the Luny Club’s time to rise and shine again, and I’m excited about this project. Please keep going! I know from working on an illustrated memoir about my year in the seventh grade, that going back in time is like commuting to another lifetime, and sometimes you’ll be ‘gone’ for days, taking side trips. These detours will make your story even richer but dip from a different well of energy than fiction. Is Kate working on this with you? A family story comes to life.

    • laurakvasnosky

      Seventh grade! Such a rich vein to mine. I look forward to your memoir. So far this is a writing project, so Kate is back in her studio working on her paintings. Thank you, always, for your comments here.

  4. I’m so glad you are picking up the Luny Club again. In this time of lonely kids addicted to their phones, it is just the sort of story we need. And then there are my personal reasons, being I’m your sister, wanting to fill my heart and mind with Dad as a kid. Thanks for drying out the pages and getting to work.

  5. laurakvasnosky

    who knows what will result — but it is sure fun mucking around in this stuff again.

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