Mare 12: Well . . .

So it’s the last day of Mare and I wrote exactly 0 words. Must be a new world’s record. But we got the book plotted and I know what the last scene is (that’s HUGE in fiction) and we all had a wonderful time. And now I’m heading south to Doom Boy and image coaching, and not a moment too soon for the image coaching.

Must go pack. And get my speech notes together. And finish the laundry. And find out why the cat is sitting on the basement steps, staring at me malevolently. Bob looks at me like that. So does Eileen, for that matter. Hmmmm.

Oh and Mare is due in April, so you’ll be hearing more. But for the next week, I’m going to be over on He Wrote She Wrote correcting Bob’s interpretation of things. It’s a full time job.

Mare 11: Argh

I got home last night and was so exhausted I answered e-mail and went straight to bed and forgot the twelve days of Mare.

You begin to see why Bob screams and Eileen had to go see Gabriel Byrne before she strangled me.

Mare 10: Mission Accomplished

And tomorrow we go home.
We worked on the book all day today while we drove and had lunch by the ocean and we’ve got the structure blocked out. So we can all go to our separate states now and work on our sister’s story. And we need to meet again to do the final draft, putting them all together.
So we had a beautiful day and did good work and now we’re going home, tired but happy.
It was a good, good trip.

Mare 9: Nothing But Good Times

I’d love to write about everything that happened today but I’m so tired I’m falling over. In short:

Eileen and Krissie and I worked all morning.

Then Mollie came and we went back to La Ripaille the French bistro on Hudson Street where the food is incredible and where Eileen and Jen and I had had lunch the day before, and the maitre d’ hugged me. So I’m going back.

Then we worked on the book and discussed business for the rest of the afternoon until Dale Burg came, at which point we laughed harder because Dale is hysterically funny. And she quoted Nora Ephron who said that at the beginning of every relationship, the role of crazy person is up for grabs. And I wondered who had grabbed it in the partnership so I asked Bob in e-mail. No answer so far. I also don’t know who it is in the Eileen/Krissie/Jenny collaboration (we’re trying to think of a name for it), but basically, I think we’re all nuts.

Then we met Mollie’s significant other who had dinner with five women without flinching.

Then we went to Mary’s for cake because she was closing forever tonight. Very sad.

And then we came back to the apartment and ate cake and had a wonderful time.

After which I convinced Eileen and Krissie to start blogs so they could talk about Dee and Lizzie. Eileen says her first blog entry is going to be “Jenny Made Me Do It.”

Then they went to bed and I picked up my e-mail which included several from Bob, three of which read, in their entirety, “We’re doomed.”

And tomorrow we’re driving out to the Hamptons because none of us have ever been and we might want to set the next book out there. Because we’re pretty sure we want to do this again.

There’s more, but I’m exhausted and I need to get to bed because I have to get up and drive across Long Island tomorrow with Eileen and Krissie screaming “Road trip!” out the windows.

Have I mentioned I’m having a wonderful time?

Mare 8: Lots of Good Work

Well, we’ve been working our Triple Goddess butts off here and getting a lot done. We’ve worked out a starting structure, figured out a fantastic climax, had lunches with editors, and managed not to kill each other, although I think both Eileen and Krissie are tired of hearing, “When Bob and I do this . . . ”

It’s a very different process we’re doing, but there are some similarities, mostly in the way I annoy them, too. Eileen and I had lunch here in the Village with Jen Enderlin, our fabulous editor (Krissie of the multiple publishers was off having lunch with a different editor), in a great little French bistro (and yes, I AM the luckiest woman in the world, don’t think I don’t know it) and Jen said she’s going to market the book as a novel, not an anthology, which is exactly what it is since the stories are interwoven and interlinked. I am SO excited about this book, about the story and the way it’s being written.

One thing I’ve learned from writing with Bob (Krissie and Eileen moan in the background) is that writing with somebody else forces you to move outside your comfort zone and try new things. And while Krissie and Eileen and I have much the same value systems, we have very different voices and story worlds. So this will be a book about three women who really are three different women because they’re written by three different women, plus I’m going to have to accomodate my plotting to theirs, so it’ll all be new. I’m jazzed.

Another way this is similar to the work I do with Bob is that we disagree, occasionally heatedly, but it’s never about who has the most words or about ego, it’s always about what’s best for the book. Eileen and I were going round about structure, and she said, “If we do it that way, we’ll lose readers.” I didn’t agree, but it’s the kind of argument that’s about the best way to tell the book, not about who gets her way. And Krissie the peacemaker says, “Let’s try it both ways.”

Which is funny because she’s writing Lizzie, the peacemaker middle sister. Eileen is writing Dee, the caring, efficient, bossy older sister who mothers everybody (have you MET Eileen?). I’m writing the reckless, distracted, impulsive, erratic, really annoying younger sister. Funny that their characters are so reflective of their personalities and mine is nothing like me.

So tonight Eileen is going to see O’Neill because if you’re Irish in New York and O’Neill is playing someplace you have to go. I’m staying in because if you’re German in New York and O’Neill is playing someplace, you’d rather be dragged through a hedge backwards than go. And Krissie’s staying in with me, so we’re going to work on our homework (Eileen’s is done already, of course, and made into packets) and then send out for pizza when Eileen gets home.

Really a lovely night in NYC. Nothing but good times ahead.

Mare 7: Eileen, Krissie, and Jenny, Together Again

Well, we’re all here in New York, and after a late dinner with Meg at the White Horse where Eileen humiliated everybody by asking what kinds of Chardonnay they had–just have a beer, Eileen–we came back and worked on the plot of the Miss Fortunes and laughed pretty damn hard. There was that moment when Eileen said seriously, “Okay, so the three guys are chained naked on the mountaintop and then?” that will live in surreal memory (no, that’s not going in the book), and the three of us trying to untangle and layer the supernatural element, the sexual element, and the community element so they echoed each other instead of confusing things, and about forty other things I can’t repeat here because they were too lewd but also funny as hell, and now we’re breaking for the night to start again tomorrow. We actually got quite a bit done, although to do it we had to reference Buffy and The Waltons and discuss the erotic significance of motor cycles, plus Eileen brought packets with maps and all her character stuff done, I brought the Mare character stuff and then realized I hadn’t done Crash, so my homework was only half done, and Krissie hadn’t done any of it. We were meant for each other.

Tomorrow, we get the plot lines down and figure out exactly what happens in the climax so that we can write our separate novellas all heading for the same ending. This is going to be SUCH a good book.

So I’m working, I’m really working. Honest.

Mare 6: I Heart NYC

Well, I’m in New York and can I just say this is the greatest place on earth? Thank you.

Spent the day with my brilliant beautiful daughter, Mollie, because it’s her birthday, and we walked around and talked. And then we had omelets and talked. And then we walked and talked some more. And then we had coffee and raspberry chocolate cake and talked. And then we walked and talked back to the apartment where I’m staying and then we sat and talked some more. Truly a wonderful day. We got six hours in before she had to go back to her significant other who also wanted birthday time, and now I’m here getting ready to get my notes together for Krissie and Eileen tomorrow and maybe order a pizza.

In the meantime, the frog is a Christmas ornament from Hobby Lobby that I bought because I thought, “I’ll need that someday;” the Girls in the Basement are never wrong. Will check into music selections. And that screaming you hear from the South is Bob because we’re reconfiguring Agnes after only 20,000 words. Which is always what happens to me, but a new experience for him. Well, actually, it’s the second time; it happened on DLD, too. He just e-mailed me and said, “We’re off the outline already!” Yeah, what’s your point?

Must go revel in being in New York for awhile and then work on Mare. Back later.


And now it’s later. Bob keeps saying he’s going to fix the plot of Agnes, so my plan is to leave him to it because he’s going to do it anyway. Very singleminded, our Bob. Also this is Mare Week in NYC, Krissie is arriving tomorrow morning and Eileen tomorrow afternoon, so I’m just going to do Mare all week, although I’ll end up brainstorming with Bob in e-mail while he obsesses on turning points. Tonight I got the Mare plot outlined (HA, like that will last) so that we can compare notes tomorrow. I’ve never collaborated with anybody but Bob before, so this should be interesting.

At least Krissie and Eileen won’t try to write the history of the Gatling Gun. Although there may be paragraphs about shoes. An ENTIRELY different thing.

Mare 5: Characters, Sharing Of, Part 2

At 3:30 AM I finally finish a really bad Agnes scene, but at least it’s finished, and then I read ahead to Bob’s next scene and he’s done the exact same things. And I turn to the e-mail computer to tell him it’s his fault so he knows when he wakes up in the morning, and before I can hit send, I’m getting e-mails from him, which he’s writing thinking I’ll be getting them when I wake up.

So at 4 AM, Bob and I are arguing about what the hell happened that we got our signals crossed (except now I know it’s my fault for not reading ahead first). And we have a phone interview to do at 11 this morning, so we really need to get to bed. But instead, we type at each other. We really need to get lives.

And of course, in the meantime, Mare languishes. And tomorrow I head for NYC where I’m not positive I’ll have an e-mail connection. So possibly this was not the best time to do the 12 Days of Mare.

But at least here are the answers to the Mare questions that I’ll be giving Eileen and Krissie:

Dark brown, almost black, with navy streaks in it, the kind you can’t see until you’re up close. Yes, really navy, she added them.


5’8″, about 140

Favorite Food:
Pot stickers, trail mix

Favorite Music:
Working on this. Back to you later.

Favorite attire choices:
Vintage stuff. White poufy prom dress with the bottom eighteen inches of the crinoline cut off so people can see through the bottom of the skirt, worn with a black cardigan and black heart-shaped sunglasses with rose-colored lenses, black flats. Plaid school uniform skirt with white tank top that says “Mother’s Tattoos,” knee socks, Keds. Black capri pants with black flats and a Mickey Mouse baseball shirt (the kind that buttons up the front). Levis (regular cut) with white lace camisole and white chenille jacket made from her bedspread from when she was a little girl with a large Cinderella done in chenille that was the center medallion on the bedspread on the jacket back.

What their room looks like (something as a place setter, even, if you
don’t know yet):
Since they move so much, she keeps every room the same. She’s been buying up vintage curtains for years, so she just hangs them from the walls in every room she gets. Most of them are in blues and greens and lavenders, in velvets and silks, and a lot of them are worn and motheaten, but she hangs them in folds so you can’t tell. Her room always looks like an underwater tent. She has a iron day bed with curlycues on the ends, and she has it covered with a bedspread she’s had since she was a child and there was money, a beautiful stripped silk coverlet in gold and blue and lavender. Lots of gold and green and blue and lavender and black velvet, silk, and satin throw pillows she’s found at Goodwill or thrift stores or made from curtains that were too worn to hang. Lots of them. A big cushy purple pillow on the floor in front of the window for Pywackt, so he can sleep in the sun during the day. At night, he sleeps on the daybed with her. The bedside table is more wrought iron, an old outdoor table she sanded the rust off of and painted lavender. Her lamp is pink glass and it has a gray silk shade edged with pink feathers. The rug on the floor is an old oriental, navy faded almost to gray. Holes in places. She pins pictures from magazines, posters, etc to the hangings on the wall, changing them out when she gets tired of them or they’ve completed whatever thought she hung up there to inspire. Her one extravagance is South American nichos of the Virgin of Juquila, little homemade shrines that she buys on eBay. She has six of them, including one big one that wiped out a week’s salary. She calls her Biggie J and adds a flower (silk) to the shrine whenever she wants something really important.

She doesn’t have a bureau, just stacks of old suitcases that look like freeform bureaus that she’s collected over the years. Her favorite is a complete set of sixties pink luggage, but most of it is forties mid-sized suitcases in the yellow-brown color that was popular then. She has one big reading chair that she dragged home from Goodwill and patched over the years with pieces of curtain material so now it has a custom patchwork/crazy quilt look, all in those deep water colors, plus she adds anything else that catches her fancy now: weird buttons along the sides, scraps of lace and doilies. She learned to transfer photos to fabric, and she’s now thinking of how she can put the family photos on the back, like a gallery. And last year she added a big footstool which is in the process of being recovered, too. She has books and notebooks and sketchbooks and CDs scattered all over, but her Mac laptop is always stowed carefully under her bedside table. Her iPod, a Christmas present from Dee and Lizzie three years ago, is always with her. And she lines her shoes up along the baseboards of whatever room she’s in, so she can see them in all their glory, although her shoes are nothing compared to Lizzie’s. Sometimes she goes into Lizzie’s room just to stare at the glory that is Lizzie’s shoes.

Idiosyncracies(besides the obvious)(bite nails? pick nose?):
Bites her upper lip when she’s stressed
When she loses control of her emotions, things move, so she crosses her arms and hugs herself a lot, trying to keep everything in

Method of transport:
Walking. She walks everywhere because she needs to see everything. Mare really is about the journey, not the destination.

Sun Sign:
Scorpio with Virgo rising.

Tarot signifier card:
Queen of Swords

Political party:

Magazine subscriptions:
Can’t. Too easy to track them down. But she buys The Week every week.

Favorite Book:
The Uninvited by Dorothy McCardle. After that, anything by Terry Pratchett.

Favorite TV Show:
Buffy reruns and Veronica Mars, although she has a real fondness for My Name is Earl.

Favorite Movie Genre:
Romantic Black Comedy. Fave: the fabulous Grosse Point Blank. Also loves A New Leaf. Prizzi’s Honor. Thinks Mr and Mrs Smith was over-hyped.

Favorite Flowers:
Marigolds and Blue Hydrangeas

Faboo. Your mileage may differ. Jeez.

Movie star crush: As in, I”ll go see anything with . . .
Cary Grant, John Cusack (although Identity tried her loyalty sorely), Steve Buscemi, Wallace and Gromit, Cate Blanchett.

Pet, Familiar:
Pywackt, a cat who used to be something else until Lizzie sneezed at the zoo one day.

Creative outlet:
Collage. She collages her walls, she collages her chair, she collages her outfits, and now she’s starting to collage old thrift store posters and paintings she’s found. Tries hard not to raid Dee’s art supplies, but sometimes she must.

“In a previous life, I was . . . “:
Morgan Le Fay. Only like, you know, good.

Favorite Muppet:
Kermit, although Animal holds a place dear in her heart.

Favorite Buffy character:
Okay, no, Spike, of course.

The thing she’d never do:

The thing she’s always wanted to do:
Spend money like it was water. Clothes, fabric, books, art supplies, anything she wanted, just buy it, even though she knows she ends up with better stuff when she has to work for it and make it herself.

Childhood toy that’s still in her room:
A stuffed green velvet frog with gold filigree patterns and a gold crown on its head. She kisses it nightly. Hope springs eternal.

Mare 4: Characters, Sharing Of

I worked on Agnes all day today and I’m about to go back to her, but we’re doing something with Mare that’s really different from anything I’ve done before: Eileen wants character charts, lists of things so that we know each other’s characters better. I don’t do character charts when I write alone because I discover that stuff as I write, and I don’t do them with Bob because he doesn’t care (“That’s back story,” he says, “Do not create any more back story, we’ve got too much back story already”), but Eileen and Krissie are female and they want character. Go figure.

So here are some of things Eileen asked for:
Favorite Food
Favorite Music
favorite attire choices
what their room looks like (something as a place setter, even, if you
don’t know yet)
idiosyncracies(besides the obvious)(bite nails? pick nose?)
methods of transport

And then I added:
Sun Sign?
Rising Sign?
Tarot signifier card?
Political party?
Magazine subscriptions?
Favorite Book?
Favorite TV Show?
Favorite Movie Genre?
Expression? (Jeez.)
Movie star crush? As in, I”ll go see anything with . . .
Pet? Familiar?
Creative outlet (Dee’s is painting . . .)
“In a previous life, I was . . . ”
Favorite Muppet?
Favorite Buffy character?
Favorite ice cream? Dessert?
Favorite food? Favorite meal?
The thing she’d never do?
The thing she’s always wanted to do?
Childhood toy that’s still in her room?

I don’t know how much help it’s going to be, but it’ll definitely spark discussions over dinner in New York.

And now, back to Agnes . . .

Mare 3: Nope

I know, I know, I forgot to blog yesterday. Listen, I’ve been busy. Did you get the newsletter? Mollie did most of the work but toward the end it was taking hours to get right. Plus there’s the Crusie-Mayer site she’s killing herself to get up, and I had to get her the content for that. Plus I’m writing this book with this guy who can’t write his next scene until I get mine to him, and I’m having trouble with it. And I don’t have to face Krissie and Eileen until next Wednesday, but I get an email every damn morning that says, “Book done yet?” And you know, it isn’t.

I know, I know, excuses. Which is why this is short. I gotta go write some Agnes now.

OTOH, I’m getting Mare’s plot together so that’s something. Here are the plot questions I asked Eileen and Krissie, trying to get started (yes, I am cannibalizing e-mails after telling somebody online that I couldn’t possibly do that; turns out, I can).

“1. We’re not all starting at the same point, right?
Eileen does the first scene from DeeDee’s POV? And then Krissie and Lizzie go into the workroom and Mare and I go to work? So Mare’s first scene is leaving the house?

“2. The very end is the combined climax on the mountain. But where should I have Mare end up at the end of her novella? Do they all meet back at the house for dinner? Is it kind of a resolution scene that turns into an Uh Oh It’s Not Over Scene?

“3. Because I am terrible at plotting, I break stories down into four parts or acts and separate them with turning points. So it’s Act One, big surprise/turning point: Act Two bigger surprise/point of no return; Act Three, humongous surprise, trip to hell; Act Four. So what I need to know is when do the sisters find out that X is after them? I’m assuming DeeDee finds out and tells the others. At what point in the story do you think they find out? I can work with just about anything, but I need to know in general so I can pace the rest of the story around it.”

(Needless to say, I put X in place of the actual character name in the real e-mail to keep from spoiling the story.)

And this is what I came up with for the first scene (also from an e-mail; okay, I’m shameless):

“I’m figuring Mare thinks she’s at a place where she has to choose her life. She’s 21, right? That’s when you make big sweeping life decisions and think they’re forever.

So I figure in the first scene, she’s at the video store, talking to the girl she works with and the beats are

What kind of career do I want? (Who am I?)
Which guy do I want (Because Jude and Crash both show up).
And then Who the hell am I (because career and guy choice will reflect that).

And that’s the character question that’ll drive her through the novella, that need to find out who she is and make some decisions and get her life on track. It’s not an external plot goal, I still have to figure that one out, but it’s good enough to get me through the scene’s first draft, I think.

So maybe the reason she walks out of breakfast is that she doesn’t know who she is, but she knows she’s not what Dee thinks she is. And that’s part of the conflict when they meet again halfway through? And then at the end, she knows who she is, which is one of the reasons she can defeat X, she can reject the apple X is holding out, even though it’s an identity she’s considered.”

See, I have been working. I’m just not producing anything.

Oh and those colored things behind the angel in that picture aren’t notebooks, they’re files that close with elastic so I can stick notes and pictures and collage pieces and anything else to do with the book in them. I used to do notebooks but they were too confining, so now I use anything at hand and stick it in the file box. And then when I’m ready, I spread everything out on a table and organize it, which you can’t do with a notebook. Much better.

And now, back to Agnes. Who is baking cupcakes in the middle of the night. I’ve done that.