Notes from a Drama Queen


Monday, May 26, 2008

So here I am, spinning my wheels. I've been circling the new book, SILVER FALLS, like a suspicious Rottweiler sniffing at the butt of a Doberman. I've written chapters, tossed them, notebooks full of notes, I understand my characters, and I find the story fascinating. It was inspired by the fact that Ted Bundy lived with a woman and her daughter during part of his killing spree and never touched them. And I wondered what that would be like for a woman, living with a monster and not knowing.
And then of course as I made notes and thought about it I considered that maybe the man she was living with wasn't the killer after all (and no, he won't be the hero). And the daughter is spunky, the heroine cool (tall, redheaded, sturdy, a photographer), the hero is troubled (brother to the man suspected of murder), the setting dark and gothic-y (Pacific Northwest town called SILVER FALLS where it rains all the time).
But it's fighting me.
In the meantime, I have an ICE book that's been begging for attention. I had been all set to write that directly after FIRE AND ICE, and then we thought maybe I should write something different, something new.
But FIRE AND ICE has done extremely well, and I need to tell Finn MacGowan's story (I left him a prisoner in the jungles of Colombia with everyone thinking he might be dead). His father died of self-starvation in prison in Ireland, and Finn is charming and sexy and filled with a deep anger he never shows. And don't even get me started on Mahmoud, who's going to grow up and have to deal with his childhood as a soldier.
On top of all this, I have a deadline.
So I've got to hunker down, ignore everything else in my life (happily) and figure out what to write. Can I work on two at the same time? SILVER FALLS in the morning and ICE in the afternoon? SF for one week, ICE on alternating weeks? Try to write a very rough draft of one, put it aside and write a very rough draft of the other, then decide?
I suppose I have to be responsible and a grown-up. But you know, to be a writer you have to be in touch with that stubborn, rebellious dreamer who stared out the classroom window rather than listen to the teacher droning on. You do what you have to do, not what you should do. Except what the hell do you do when you want to do both?

Have you guys ever been stuck with trying to choose between two things you love? If I write SILVER FALLS I'll be ignoring the ICE book, and vice versa. Aaargh.

How do you choose? Or do you just do what you're supposed to do? Help!

Good Times

Monday, May 12, 2008

So life has suddenly become splendid. I became fat, fair and sixty at Disney World (one of my favorite places in the world) along with my kids and my husband. We stayed at the Port Orleans Riverside, which was gorgeous, I scooted around on a little scooter (the knee's still bad from the surgery) and struck terror in the heart of bus drivers with my parking skills, I rode lovely rides (favorites being Pirates, Haunted Mansion, and Peter Pan), avoided terrifying rides (anything with Mountain in the name) and decided after my third time on Soarin' that I'm just too chicken. I practically broke my husband's hand I was clutching it so tightly.
We ate glorious food, sometimes with appalling service (the Chefs du France) and sometimes wonderful (everyplace else) and of course for my actual 60 year dinner we went to the Japanese restaurant (would you expect anything else from me?).
Those are my darling children -- Kate is dressed for the Pirates and Princess Party we went to later that night (the boys stayed at Epcot and went on thrill rides). We came home the next day, but it was one of those perfect moments in time -- being with grown children who are no longer full of teenage angst.

And then, glory be, I got a call from my editor on Wednesday. FIRE AND ICE (with my darling Reno) is just out, with a smallish print run (though thankfully bigger than the tragic print run for ICE STORM). To my complete joy and astonishment it's number 21 on the NYT list! Just when you think nothing but disaster lies ahead, the universe rewards you with a treat.

On top of that, spring has finally arrived, I have the best friends in the world, my knee's getting better, all my cats survived our week long vacation (with my mother housesitting but she's not a cat person). This really is a splendid time for me right now.

And just to make things even better, my friends Mort and Swiggs (Maggie Shayne and Susan Wiggs) are on the lists as well, our editor loves the newest incarntion of DOGS AND GODDESSES, my mother, who was teetering at death's door last year, is up and thriving (at almost 94). Life is incredibly good right now.

I think good times need to be fully noted and celebrated. Too often life is full of sorrow and shame and worry. Let's keep the good times going. Tell me some of your good news. We all need to share the good stuff.