Tuesday, July 22, 2008

If She Hates It, It's All Christy's Fault

I called my friend Christy last night to whine and kvetch.

Because I'm such a good friend, I let her whine and kvetch first. Thirty-two seconds later, we moved on to a discussion of our mothers' feet.

We could have talked about toes forever, but I cleverly shifted the conversation back to me by whining and kvetching louder. I explained that with the mood I'm in lately, I was concerned the Thursday afternoon brainstorming session with my editor would consist of all storm and no brain.

Christy and I proceeded to have a heated discussion about whether fish could survive those dagnab volcanoes (she claimed ash on the water was a not good thing). Apparently if we put her mother's toenails and my mother's toenails in the ocean, we could destroy the world fish population, but that's a whole other problem.

But then Christy and I worked out a basic third book plot. Maybe my editor will hate it, maybe she'll love it, maybe she'll think it has possibilities but needs lots of work (well, even if she loves it, she'll think it'll need lots of work).

The very basic setup (since I tell you everything, usually before I tell my editor) is that a couple of months have passed and the LAWKI family hears from Dad. Don't ask me where he is, because I haven't decided. West of Pennsylvania somewhere, but with an address. Miranda, Matt and Jon decide to go out west to stay with him, because, among other reasons, they've heard the food deliveries are going to stop.

If you're wondering where Mom is...well, that may depend on my editor. All I know is she's not going on the road trip. I've got too many problems with my mother's feet to want to take any mom along for this book.

Somehow somewhere Miranda separates from Matt/Jon. Christy suggested that Miranda get a job as a nanny, but I decided to make her the companion to an elderly woman instead (ooh, a toenail scene). I figure the old woman can be a big figure skating fan and Miranda says she skated once with Brandon Erlich and gets the job that way.

Also somewhere on the road, Miranda hooks up with Alex and Julie, who are (I think) making their way to their brother Carlos.

While I don't want a tearful reunion scene at the very end, I do want Miranda to make it to Dad's all in one relatively unscathed piece. As of the moment, the book'll end with Miranda knocking on the door and hearing someone say, "I'll get it."

The book would be third person, in the episodic style of the dead and the gone. I loved writing diary style for Life As We Knew It, but I just can't see using it. There've been a lot of toenails under the bridge in the past three and a half years, and I don't feel comfortable slipping directly into Miranda's brain again. Besides, it's hard to keep a diary while you're on the road.

So that's where things are right now. I've been following the poll semi-obsessively and I thank all of you who have participated and all who have e-mailed me.

Now if any of you want to give my mother a pedicure...


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Oh, that was me, linking to a news article about fish pedicures.

Susan Beth Pfeffer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Hi Anonymous (original and extra crispy)-

Thank you for the link to the fish pedicure article.

Now there's a sentence I never thought I'd write!

Anonymous said...

Hey! I liked this idea a lot! It'll be interesting to see how you blend all the characters together. Remember, just because they are likeable in their own books, doesn't mean they'll like each other; at least not to begin with.

How about have dad live outside of Akron; a big city that's not all that big (by big city standards).

And I still think there's got to be a lot of gangs out there apres meteor. That and lions and tigers and bears.

Just some thoughts.


Librarian D.O.A. said...

Sorry, all this toenail stuff reminded me of that X-Files episode where the creepy guy was trimming nails on corpses, and their hair as well...I think of him as the "Hair and Nails Guy". Ick ick.

Other than the toenail stuff, I like the plotted outlines you and your friend came up with. Good luck with your agent and publisher.

sarah said...

I was thinking about Miranda's friend in LAWKI -- the one who went south with the older man. I'd be interested in seeing where she is. And also Alex's class president -- Chris, was it? I'm crap at secondary character names, which probably explains why I mess them up in my own writing -- I'd like to know what happened with him.

I have no idea how that could be incorporated into a Miranda / Alex - centered novel, but -- just my two cents (since I've been giving it unsolicited all night).

Good luck!

Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Hi to Anonymous Glen and Librarian D.O.A. and to Sarah-

Thank you for your points and your suggestions. Okay, I'll leave toenails out of it (although I must say I spoke to Christy again last night and our mothers' feet continued to dominate our conversation).

I'd forgotten about the lions and tigers and bears, but if I need a nice burst of melodrama they are there for me to use. A couple of my six different versions of Carlos hd wild dogpacks in them. And yes, I also need to keep in mind that Alex and Miranda may not like each other one bit.

It's going to be harder to work in the minor gone off characters from both books. It's a funny thing. In real life, people bump into people all the time (my father once cut school to go to the movies and found himself sitting next to his mother and older sister; he told them it was a school holiday). But if you put that kind of thing in a book, it becomes coincidental, and there's risk of that opinion just by having Miranda and Alex meet (which I see as the natural flowing together of two rivers). So much as I'd like Miranda to meet Chris (I thought they'd be a cute couple), or any of them to meet Dan or Sammi from LAWKI, I have to be careful.

Then again, my editor may hate the whole idea, and I'll be starting from scratch once again!

John Green said...

2 years later is probably long enough, but I'm anxious to see the world settled in--or as settled in as things get. How/whether human life can continue semi-permanently. I think for one thing--re. d&g--that the role of faith might change with most distance?

The book is great. Congratulations on it.

Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Hi Nerdfightersftw-

I assume that's not your real name.

I'm waiting to talk with my editor (she called a few minutes ago to postpone our phone meeting until later today.

Since I had some extra time, I used it wisely by finding a crystal ball on the computer. I asked it, Will Harcourt buy the Miranda book, and it responded, Yes, but keeping working hard.

So I worked hard by typing up notes on the Miranda book. I came up with some possible incidents this morning.

If my editor likes the Miranda story, then the book'll take place just a couple of months after the end of LAWKI.

If she doesn't like it, then who knows when the third book will take place. Well, maybe the crystal ball knows, but it only answers yes and no questions.

I found it interesting the first choice on the poll was a couple of years after LAWKI/d&g. I tried to come up with a starting off place for a two years later plot, but didn't like anything I could think of.

We'll see what my editor says, but I guess we won't see for another hour or so!

Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Hello again Nerdsfightersftw-

I just followed your link (it's blue, which I can never resist).

Nerdsfighterftw isn't really your name at all. Your name is actually much easier to spell.

Welcome to the blog. It's an honor to see you here.

Leona said...

I loved both books and can't wait for a third. As a librarian I promise to buy it for my library... that should convince Harcourt to publish it, right?
As for the third book, I think placing it a couple months after LAWKI would be a good timeline for picking up Miranda and her family story. As for the characters all meeting up, it makes sense to me that most people would start congregating in the same places.... sort of like circling humanities wagons to keep society safe. Ok, maybe that doesn't make as much sense as it did in my head but you get the drift. Hopefully.

Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Hi Leona-

Thank you for your comment, and for your promise that your library will buy the third book.

That's exactly what Harcourt wants. Me too.

I'm off to write an entry about my conversation with my editor. Let's hope the book I write will be something your library will buy lots of.