Tuesday, June 17, 2008

It Is Now Pushing Into Fifteen Hours Forty Five Minutes

I've spent the past few days obsessively working on The World We Live In, writing what I've been calling the 18 page outline (you'd think I could look and see just how long the outline is) and approximately 75 pages of book (and yes, you'd think I could look and see just how many pages I wrote).

I got everything written by Sunday night, but then on Monday (aka yesterday), I completely rewrote Eden's opening scene (I kept maybe half a page out of the original six) to make Eden much less obnoxious. A good writer knows that the first time you meet the book's heroine, she really oughtn't to be obnoxious, but it took me a few days to figure that out. And then I had to polish the two chapters I wrote on Sunday (Luke and Will go to the gentlemen's club, where Will tries to find a girl named Catherine, only to learn that she's dead- my fabulous new theory is as long as I use euphemisms for brothels, no one can claim I'm writing about sex- and Eden spends her first day with Miranda's brother Matt and his family and they go to church where she meets James Sinclair, previously known as Linton Heathcliff). Then I polished the Luke's opening scene and the three Luke chapters as one unit, and then the completely rewritten Eden's opening scene and the three Eden chapters as another unit.

Even then I wasn't finished. I went back to the eighteen page outline, changed Olivia Morgan's name to Olivia Edgecomb, since that's what I'd been calling her in the Eden sections (she's Eden's best friend, although now that Eden is settled in at the LAWKI house, I doubt we'll be seeing her again), and rewrote the ending in the outline, making a clever last minute change that I realized this morning makes no sense at all.

On the off chance that someone who might actually purchase The World We Live In is reading this entry, don't worry. I can fix it. Buy the book anyway.

By then it was 6 PM, and I was all set to send everything off to my editor and my agent when the first hint of thunderstorms rolled in. I raced over to the Weather Channel to see if there was a tornado alert (it turns out there may have been a tornado at the other end of the county), and ended up watching a movie on Lifetime Movie Channel (I love movies on Lifetime Movie Channel, because it never matters how much you miss at the beginning or end, or even in this case, at the middle, since I left it around 7 and sent the proposal and chapters off then).

Given that there was no tornado, and it's been been fifteen hours sixteen minutes since I sent the material off, through the magic of internet, I fail to understand why I haven't heard anything.

Okay, I don't fail to. I just think it's a crying shame that the publishing industry is so darn slow.

Not that I want to give said publishing industry any reason to turn down the masterwork, but I have to acknowledge there are a few reasons why they might:

1. The World We Live In is very very different from Life As We Knew It and the dead and the gone. Two main characters, alternating viewpoints, less emphasis on natural disaster and more on societal consequences, traditional chapter structure (I thought about putting dates on each chapter, for old times sake, but somehow I just didn't), probably other things if I think about it.

2. TWWLI, purely by happenstance, is a tad noir. Okay, it's full bucket no getting around it, bleak and dark and violent and nasty and brutish. In a PG 13 sort of way. Yeah, three people get beaten to death in the first couple of Luke chapters, but really, who cares? Clearly not me. And you don't see any of the people die; technically speaking they're just corpses by the time the reader sees them. Except maybe for one of them, and he might as well be dead.

Nobody dies in the Eden chapters, although she does notice a dead baby. But that wasn't my fault. Her friend Olivia points the baby out to her, and you can't expect me to control all my characters.

But there's no sex. I don't know what goes on in a gentlemen's club, after all. No one has ever mistaken me for a gentleman.

3. My editor may not like me anymore. While I have no hard evidence for this, I e-mailed her last week to say LAWKI was on the Tennessee Young Readers List, and she never e-mailed back. Not that I'm sensitive to such slights.

4. I forgot to mention in my cover e-mail that I had information that could bring down the entire publishing industry, starting with Harcourt, and unless the entire publishing industry, starting with Harcourt, agreed to publish The World We Live In, I'd send that information to people who'd be very interested to see it (don't ask me who; there must be someone). I had that part of the e-mail all ready in my mind, but then I started worrying about tornadoes (I live in a second floor apartment, and I figured if there was a tornado watch, I'd have to take my two cats and hide us all in the bathtub. What fun that would have been).

Oh well. My rule of thumb is if I haven't heard within the first fifteen hours thirty five minutes, I'm not going to hear for at least another twenty minutes. So I might as well change the sheets and water the plants and go to the bank and buy groceries and visit my mother and watch some more Lifetime Movie Network movies.

I'll let you know when I hear something.


Marci said...

We did lose power when the storm came through, but only for about 15 minutes. O&R, ever the optimists suggested that the problem might be resolved in 6 hours, but then the lights came back on.

I liked it better when the mayhem was directly caused by the cataclysm and not so much by the low, brutish nature of my fellow humans. I am, of course, aware of it, but I don't care to dwell on it. However, teens love to dwell on it, so you are probably on the right track.

Maybe your editor went on vacation. They do, you know. They're not self employed.

At any rate, the storm blew away the muggy weather and today was beautiful, so I hope you were out and about in it and not sitting inside watching Lifetime Movies. BTW, did you know the Project Runway will be moving to Lifetime after the next season. Tim Gunn and Heidi Klum on Lifetime! More melodrama, more pathos, more disease, menacing and women in jeopardy?

I will be up early taking Alice's latest rescue to be spayed, so I will be at the book store early. See ya there!

Linda Jacobs said...

Ti's fascinating reading about your thought process for your new book! I've never written one and I'm really enjoying hearing about your trials and tribulations.

I've recommended your two books, Life As We knew It and dead & gone to my department head as new tenth-grade novels. One of our other teachers has also read LAWKI and loved it and thinks it would be great for the kids of all levels to read.

Hope you hear soon!

Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Hi Marci (who I'll see in a couple of hours). Hi Linda Jacobs.

I unceremoniously slipped a link to the Harcourt discussion guide to LAWKI onto the right side of the blog. If you scroll down it long enough, you'll see an extremely cropped version of the picture Marci took of me. Alas, they left me in the picture, and edited out the pretty flowering tree, but it's still nice to see Marci's handiwork (and it's definitely the best picture taken of me in a long time, even though the tree is a lot prettier than I am).

I got e-mails yesterday from my editor and my agent saying the material had arrived (I always ask people to let me know, because I'm incompetent). Now it's just a matter of weeks, or months, or years, before I get a yes or a no.

I'm hoping for yes. I didn't sleep well last night and woke up this morning with three different bits of plot. What a shame to waste all those brain cells (especially since I only wrote notes about two of the bits and have already forgotten what the third one was).

Breakfast and volunteer work await.
Distraction is a good thing!

Dawn said...

You are too funny. Why on earth would Harcourt not want to publish TWWLI? It sounds fantastic and I am very excited to read it.

You could always bring snipits of this new work to the conference. You know...for your biggest fans who read your blog and leave you funny comments.

BTW- I saw this listing on the ALA Wiki:

Sunday, June 29

11:30 A.M.–12:30 P.M. SUSAN BETH PFEFFER autographing her popular YA novel, Life As We Knew It and the new companion novel, the dead and the gone

Meet Susan and other YA authors at YALSA’s YA Author Coffee Klatch. This informal ‘speed dating’ type event features authors who have appeared on YALSA’s Best Books for Young Adults lists. Tickets are only $19 and available online at www.ala.org/annual.

Alas, I will miss the speed dating but I will be front and center at the Harcourt booth for your signing. Hope your ready to sign a lot of books! :)

Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Hi Dawn-

I dunno. The Evil New York Mets Management made Poor Willie Randolph fly all the way from New York to Anaheim and then fired him the very next day.

This has made me very nervous about trips from New York to Anaheim. What if Harcourt flies me out there on Saturday and then dumps me on Sunday?

I'm holding onto the thought that I'm flying out of Newark, not New York. Otherwise, I'd be even more worried!

Dawn said...


If they fire you (yeah right!), I will take you to Disneyland. See...win win situation! :)