Mare 2: Kind Of

Well, it’s been one of those days, what with Susan answering my double-dog-dare, and the new tile going in my bathroom (and it’s GORGEOUS, too) and about twenty million e-mails coming in, including one with the first review of Don’t Look Down: “This is the first collaboration between best-selling and award-winning romance writer Crusie and adventure-thriller writer Mayer, and it is a rare and original delight. Mayer’s delectably dry sense of humor perfectly complements Crusie’s signature brand of sharp wit, and together the two have cooked up a sexy, sassy, and smart combination of romance and suspense that is simply irresistible.”

God, I’m so happy, I’m doing the Snoopy Dance all over the house.

But I didn’t get to Mare this morning. Or this afternoon. When it got to be 8PM and I was still handling business stuff and e-mails, I realized I wasn’t going to get to Mare or Baby (the scene from Agnes) today. I also realized I have to get a grip on my life. I truly typed from 9:30 this morning until 8 this evening without writing one word of fiction. I did four blog entries, though. And I proofread the newsletter and did a bunch of editor and agent e-mails and an agent phone call (except we talk about everything so that’s not exactly all business) and a partner phone call (except she’s my kid, too, so it’s not exactly all business), and then e-mails with Krissie and Eileen about the anthology and the trip next week and promotion, and then there were the lists I have to keep up with, and the call from the vet because Lucy has a double heart murmur even though everything else about her is fine and I swear to God she knows it because before she went to the vet she used to jump up on the bed just fine and now she sits on the floor and looks up at me with those big eyes and does everything but clutch her heart until I pick her up . . .

Clearly there’s a lack of focus here. As if you didn’t already know that from my desk.

But I did think a lot about fiction today, including writing long e-mails to Bob about what Agnes would be doing baking six kinds of cupcakes while Shane grilled her until Bob wrote back, “TMI,” plus yesterday, I was out because of the vet et al and stopped by Home Goods and looked at their Christmas markdowns and there was this angel that marked down from $38 to $5 (“as is”), and I am not an angel kind of person but the face on this one was so amazing, plus she was holding her halo in her hands as if she’d just decided to take it off, plus there was something about an “as is angel” that really appealed to me, plus she was five bucks, for cripes sake, so I bought her and she’s sitting on my desk and I keep looking at her fascinated. I know she’s going to fuel a book. Maybe Charlotte. Maybe the one I’m going to do a couple of years from now, my verson of The Turn of the Screw. I don’t know. But since I have nothing to show for my day, I thought I’d show you the As Is Angel instead:

Isn’t she something?

Tomorrow, tomorrow I must write fiction. Argh.

Mare 1

So I’m all geared up and ready to go (desk is almost cleaned off, floor not so much) and I realized that since these novellas are interlocking, I have to figure out how Mare’s story fits with DeeDee’s and Lizzie’s.

Here’s the plan:

Eileen’s story opens the book and it’s the three sisters at breakfast. Then Something Happens, and the sisters scatter–in Mare’s case, she goes to work at the video store–and the stories play out simultaneously. So you get DeeDee’s story from Eileen and then you start the next novella and it’s Lizzie’s story but it doesn’t pick up at the end of DeeDee’s, you go back to the beginning and read what happened to Lizzie while DeeDee was going through hell. Then you get to my novella and go back to the beginning to find out what Mare was doing while DeeDee and Lizzie were fighting the good fight. So we all need to have our ducks in a row from the beginning, which means I have to double check to make sure that the plan is still to start Lizzie and Mare’s stories starting right after DeeDee’s first scene. There’s a reason we’re spending three days in New York to figure out how this works, and it’s not just because Eileen wants to see Gabriel Byrne in A Touch of the Poet although I am not going with her because, sue me, O’Neill leaves me cold.

Where was I?

Right. So I have to find out what Mare’s first scene is. Then I have to find out where Eileen and Krissie want the sisters to meet together right before the Big Finish. And then there’s this Huge Revelation that will alter events. I need to know when that happens.

Basically, because I cannot plot, I try to have four big scenes in my head: the turning point scene at the end of the first quarter (first act), the midpoint scene at the end of the second quarter (second act), the dark moment scene at the end of third quarter (third act), and the climax at the end of the fourth quarter (fourth act). So all I need to know is, which of those big scenes is the Huge Revelation? I’m hoping it’s the dark moment turning point, because otherwise, I’m going to have to follow it with a Huger Revelation and then a Hugest Revelation, and that could be tricky.

So for my hour today, I blocked out the romance which is the main plot of the novella (which Eileen pitched as a paranormal erotic romance anthology, so I have to get sex in there, too–and did I mention during Trudy that’s it’s damn hard to get people into bed in 20,000 words so Mare knows Crash from three years earlier when he almost got her killed coming home from prom–and wrote an e-mail to Eileen and Krissie with the three plot questions.

It doesn’t sound like much, but it really did take an hour.

Also, I realize those pictures of my office were appalling, but get over it. This means you, Mollie Oh-My-God-Is-That-My-Mother’s-Desk Smith, and Susan Elizabeth I-Must-Forward-This-Photograph-To-Everyone-I’ve-Ever-Met Phillips. Yes, Mollie, I know this reminds you of the house you grew up in where I often lost you in the debris, but you’ve turned out to be an amazingly strong, intelligent, resourceful woman and I’m sure it’s because you had to dig your way out of the house every morning to go to school so you owe me. And as for you, Phillips, not all of us have HGTV-gorgeous offices the size of an Olympic swimming pool with built in cabinetry and a ceiling so high that there’s a balcony off Bill/Charles’s office so he can shout things down to you at will, so let’s be kind to our lesser sisters, shall we? In fact I double-dog-dare you to post a picture of your office RIGHT NOW, no cleaning up. :p

Jeez.

And now Mare . . .

So I’m at The RWA National Conference in Reno last July, and Eileen Dreyer (one of my favorite people and also I’m in love with her husband Rick which is why she calls me “Mormon Wife”) sits down beside me and says, “I have the best idea for a book. The heroine is a shape-shifter but she’s a virgin because every time she gets excited, she changes shape, like into the guy’s mother.” And I said, “How much have you had to drink?” and she said, “Enough,” and we talked of other things. Fast forward a couple of months and she e-mailed me and said, “Here’s the idea: Three novellas, three sisters, all with paranormal powers that they can’t control. I do my shapeshifter, Krissie does one [that’s Anne Stuart], and you do one. What do you say?”

I said, “I’m in.” Well, who wouldn’t be?

And then it turned out Jen Enderlin was in, too, so now sometime in 2007, The Unfortunate Miss Fortunes (working title but hoping it will be permanent) will be published, which means I’m now writing the youngest sister, Mare. (There are three sisters: DeeDee, Eileen’s shapeshifter; Lizzie, Krissie’s girl who changes the shapes of other things; and my girl Moira Mariposa, better known as Mare, who moves things with her mind. Psychokinetic? I know there are terms for all of those powers, but that’s what they do.) So I’m figuring I’ll try to do Twelve Days of Mare and see what I get.

BUT I also have to do Agnes with Bob because I can’t keep him waiting. And I can’t delay Mare because Krissie and Eileen and I are meeting in New York for three days to talk this through, and I need to get a chunk of it done before then so I know what my story is about because I don’t really know what I’m doing until I see what I’ve written.

So here’s the plan: I’m going to dedicate an hour to Mare every morning. Afternoons and evenings are for Agnes, but the mornings belong to Mare. Since my mornings are really short–I usually start work about ten–and I have to answer e-mail in there, too, it should work out to about an hour a day, although it’ll get trickier once I’m on the road. Twelve days starting tomorrow ends the last day we’re in NYC, so that should make things more interesting. January tenth is going to be tricky because I’ll be traveling plus that’s Mollie’s birthday (she’ll be twelve) and we’re going to do the NYC thing, which for us usually means a great lunch and a walk through Central Park where we talk a mile a minute, but . . .

Where was I? Right. The Twelve Days of Mare starts tomorrow. As with Trudy, the posts will be short, just a way of keeping me honest and on task and probably not very interesting, so be forewarned. And if you want to know how Agnes is doing, schlep on over to He Wrote She Wrote, because that’s where we’ll be talking about that. About once a week.

Meanwhile, here’s the start of the Mare collage. It’s only the very beginning, but I’m liking it.

And now, back to Agnes.