Sunday, May 15, 2011

He's Cain And I'm Able (I Hope)

I am currently reading a biography of James M. Cain by Roy Hoopes. I'm on page 102 and it's going to be another 10 years and who knows how many pages before he writes anything I've heard of, but so far it's an easy read and I'm enjoying it.

Meanwhile, when I'm not reading about James M. Cain, I'm bouncing around between reality and whatever the alternative to reality might be. My current reality is that after a week in enriched housing, my mother declared she wanted to move back to her apartment. I can't say as I blame her, but I'm not really looking forward to packing that bookcase of my father's books, my brother's books, and my books all over again.

It's a good thing I didn't give her one of the ARCs of Blood Wounds, since that would be one more thing to pack (and just a reminder- the Bolivian Hat Blood Wounds drawing remains open through Sunday night if you haven't yet emailed me for a shot at it).

I still haven't heard a thing from my publisher about whether they're going to want a fourth book, or from my agent about The Offering. I didn't expect to hear from either one on a weekend (I'm egotistically obsessive, but not that egotistically obsessive, believe it or not), but it still would be nice to have heard something. Of course I haven't gotten my royalty check either, but April 50th is right around the corner, so I expect that to show up within a week, give or take (and I would prefer to take).

Not hearing from my publisher about a fourth book hasn't stopped me from plotting like crazy, although a couple of days ago, I did tell myself to stop until I had definite word. That resolution lasted about three minutes, because the truth of the matter is I love plotting The Shade Of The Moon, and given that the alternative usage of brain cells is thinking about my mother back in her apartment, it's off to the moon I go.

Last night, right before falling asleep, I came up with an new plot story for Meggie, Miranda's daughter by Richard (I feel like I know Richard pretty well, although you've never met him). I liked the idea so much that it cost me a quarter of a sleeping pill at 4 AM to keep me from developing it still further then and there. Instead I held off until Scooter woke me at 7:00, and I kept at it, exercycling to The Golf Channel without any sound, so I could think some more.

Someplace between last night and a bogey, I thought about The Shade Of The Moon in a kind of Gone With The Wind sort of way (not that I ever read Gone With The Wind, although I did see the movie and the classic Carol Burnett takeoff). You know, big and sweeping, but mostly big. Then I said, well maybe if I'm planning on a GWTW big sweeping kind of novel, it shouldn't be first person.

This was actually quite an interesting possibility to me, since I've been having trouble picturing Juliet (Mom's daughter with Charlie) sitting down and writing all the stuff I have going on. In particular there was one scene in my mind where tons of interesting things happen but she wouldn't have the chance to put anything on paper for a couple of days, and when she did, it would be 30-40 pages, which handwritten is a lot of paper and a lot of work. Third person would solve all that.

So then I thought about the problem I always have with third person which is what do you call the parents. In this case, there's only one parent, Mom, so I said to myself (while some golf balls ended up in water, where I don't suppose they were meant to go), I could just call her Mom and the heck with it.

But then I thought, well what if I kill off Mom, and then I wouldn't have to worry about it. And I pondered just what Mom's been doing in The Shade Of The Moon as it is currently constituted, and mostly Mom exists so all the other characters can say, "Don't tell Mom." I did come up with possibly the best line of dialogue I ever won't get to write, which is Miranda, after saying "Don't tell Mom," to Juliet for the zillionth time, declaring, "That should be on my tombstone: Here Lies Miranda Evans. Don't Tell Mom." It's that play on words of "lies" that I find particularly delectable.

But other than being constantly deluded, Mom didn't seem to be doing all that much, so this morning as I ran errands, I held Mom's memorial service. If I do it (and there are so many "if"s in that "if"- like if I kill off Mom, and if my publisher even wants me to write the book), I'd start the book with the memorial service, maybe not even from Juliet's point of view, but more like a prologue. I once read a book about soap operas, and the author pointed out that one of the ways soaps use weddings is to get all the characters with all their storylines under the same roof at the same time. Mom's memorial service could function that way as well (although, sadly, neither Matt nor Jon would be there).

So that's where things are right now. Apparently, not satisfied with killing off all humanity for a fourth time, I'm intent on killing of a character I absolutely love, and a mother at that.

Hmmm. I'd better warn my mother to keep away from me while I'm repacking her bookcase. I think death by deluging books could merit double indemnity!


Marci said...

You have never READ Gone With the Wind? It was my absolute favorite book when I was 13 and I reread it dozens of times. You HAVE to read it! I don't even read fiction and I loved it.

Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Hallo my beloved Marci (and before I go any further, my word verification is "wheratt," which is about as fabulous a made up word as a made up word can be)-

Nope, I never read Gone With The Wind, and I'm not about to now. It could be the greatest book ever written and it wouldn't work for me. I always root for the North in Civil War stuff, so Scarlett, Rhett, and I wouldn't get along one little bit (I probably wouldn't care much for Ashley or Melanie either).

Anyway, I saw the movie, so I know lots of people die and I think they eat potatoes (or maybe I made that part up).

Anonymous said...

I always root for the North in the Civil War too, but I did enjoy Gone With the Wind. I hate Scarlett, but I think that is the point! I even wrote a paper and presentation for college about Scarlett's narcissistic personality disorder!

If "mom" gets killed off I would be sad, but I understand!

(Word verification is merug! I like that one! Will have to make up a meaning for it!)

- Morgaine

Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Good Morning Morgaine-

I'm still trying to decide about Mom, but of course my publisher is still trying to decide about the entire book (based on two sentences), so the whole thing could be moot.

And at this point, I don't think I could read Gone With The Wind without picturing Carol Burnett and the drapery rod throughout the entire 800 pages!

shm said...

The Carol Burnett skit was definitely a classic! I liked the book and the movie and root for the North too. But would gladly trade GWTW and the movie for book 4. Thank you for your wonderful posts. They have kept a smile on my face during a rough budget time here in Florida for librarians. I'm with you, I may still have my coffee and the moon is still high in the sky, but nothing is worse than a smoke alarm blaring (except maybe my cooking), which inevitably sets off the smoke alarm. Broom handles (or take-out) are the best remedy for obnoxious smoke alarms!
Never the less, I agree with you, I want what I want when I want it and I want to continue to be a librarian! If you have to kill off mom, I'll understand. Just don't kill of any librarians! :-). Glad your mom is moving back to her apartment.

laila tov from sunny Florida!

Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Hi shm-

I never kill off librarians. Even the librarian in LAWKI packed her bags and moved down south, where she probably ran into Scarlett O'Hara.

Laila tov to you too from rainy dreary New York!