Saturday, March 25, 2006

EILEEN: german magic

After reading Jen's post, I think German magic must be an oxymoron. It's why Germans do such great cars--All that logic--and not such good fairies. Total illogic. I have to admit that I sometimes have trouble with logic and paranormal, because I like writing the interfacing of worlds, and there really has to be some logic involved. But I'm happy to say that I'm blissfully free of worrying what molecules do. That's because its......magic! (or as they say in Shakespeare in Love. "I don't know how it happens. It's a mystery!") ABut considering how much Jen is angsting over her Mare's logical process, her story is so kickass nobody'll notice. Especially the part about the cat who was a lion and the frog who was....well, you'll just have to see.


JENNY: Mare & Magic

Eileen can't imagine somebody having paranormal powers without being Irish which pretty much leaves Swiss-German me out in the cold. This may explain why I'm trying to desperately to establish a scientific basis for what Mare does or at least how her power works. The whole paranormal thing is not a natural for me, although I love paranormal stories. The problem I see with writing the genre is that I try so hard to make sure the story is real--characters have strong motivations, no coincidences, cause and effect--that to say, "And then she turned into an owl" just makes the whole deal harder. Which is why I'm glad Eileen's sister is turning into the owl. I know transformation stories are older than the hills, I just have a tough time making them real in my head.

I also know that paranormal stories have to have laws and logic, that there have to be limits to the powers. So I'm looking at Mare who moves things with her mind, and I’m thinking, "How?" Does she move the air around the object so that it follows the vacuum? Does she push with her mind the way she would with her arms? Where does the extra effort to move heavy things come from, more concentration or a better understanding of the mechanics of her power? And what happens to the object when it gets moved? Are the molecules rearranged? Does it heat up? And if it does, why? The friction of the molecules, the heat from Mare's mind? It’s important because the way her power works is going to reflect who she is because who she is will have shaped how she uses her power and how she uses her power will have shaped her.

I’m really loving this book, though. So much fun.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

EILEEN: st. patrick was a gentleman....

Since much has been made of the fact that I'm just a weensy bit Irish, I couldn't pass the day(okay, it's not exactly the day, but as you can imagine, I've been a bit preoccupied, mostly with my extended family, who all gather as if it were thanksgiving) without wishing you all a happy St. Patrick's Day. And reflect on how that impacts the book. Especially the girls. Even more so, my girl. Yeah, okay, I couldn't imagine somebody having big paranormal powers without being Irish. That's because my mom's been dead for almost 25 years and she just showed up again today to help my brother out. Irish mothers are like that. I also find that I've found the Irish to be much more comfortable with the idea of paranormality. The saying is that there is a veil between this world and the next, and that the veil is thinnest in Ireland. If you spend any time there, especially with the people, you can easily believe it. The best part is, most of them consider it as normal as nature or genetics. Some people have the gift, some don't, but everybody seems to have had experience of some kind. I like that. I like the sense that anything is possible. And I like bringing it to the Miss Fortunes, although I know that at least Dee and Lizzie aren't quite as enamored. But we're working on that.
Slainte, agus Padraic, and erin go bragh.
Oh, and for my more iconclastic friends, Up the rebels!!

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

EILEEN: Poor Voiceless Danny

Hmmm. Jen mentioned how differently we are approaching our sections. That Krissie has given Elric a voice, and that Jen is considering doing the same for Crash. I really thought hard about giving Danny a voice. He's just not speaking in my head. Of course, I haven't done the second half of the book yet. Who knows if he feels compelled to join in? Like Jen, I learn a lot of stuff about what's really been going on in my books about 3/4 of the way through, and have to go back in and seed stuff(most important lesson in writing--especially mystery, which always intimidated me. The book isn't finished until you send it into the editor. You can change anything anytime. And oh, my, I do).
So, as soon as I can get my poor fairies settled over in Silhouetteland, I'll be back to find out just how vocal Danny is.


JENNY:Different Writers, Different Styles, Exciting Process

I think it's probably good that we're all such different writers. I don't think I can write a book now without a collage, it speeds up my process so much and it makes the story so much richer FOR ME. Other people, not so much. One of the things that's making us all crazy, I think, is that I'm not a linear writer, so while Eileen and Krissie are pretty much writing chronologically, I've got most of the first half done and some of the second half and that's just changed the first half, and they have no idea where I am even though they know where they are. We just put the first halves together, still missing two of my scenes, and when I looked at that document I realized that Eileen and I were sticking to just our sister's POV and Krissie was doing both the sister's and her guy's POVs. And I'm not seeing any way she can change that, she really needs Elric's POV in there. And it's good, he's got a great voice. So I thought, "Can do that, have four POVs, one of them Krissie's hero?" and I started thinking about Crash and realized that the scene in the diner would be much better from his POV and in fact his POV is necessary throughout. If Eileen doesn't want to do Danny's POV, I don't think it's a problem, and anyway she gets to choose whatever she wants to do. But looking at the three stories interwoven really helped me define one of the problems I was having. Crash needs to tell part of this for balance. And because he doesn't know what the hell is going on, it's going to be very helpful for me in releasing info.

Collaboration is a good, good process.

As for the collage, this is where it is now (it'll keep changing right through the copy edits):

What have I learned?
I know what the waitress looks like which is a huge help.
I know what Crash's place in Tuscany looks like. I know that I put the movie titles in the wrong places and I have to flip The Corpse Bride and Howl's Moving Castle. I know the bunnies are more important than I thought which probably means I have to change my first line again. I know what Krissie's hero looks like because she told me where to find the image. I got an entire scene out of that frog in the teacup. Jude Law is perfect for a smarmy minion (should never have slept with that nanny, Jude). Butterflies, hot fudge sundaes, muffins, frogs, the motifs are piling up.

But the spiders are gone. Mare isn't really Goth any more. And Value Video is central. Which I didn't know until I started putting things on the collage and taking them off, moving some things around until it felt like they were in the right place and then looking at them again to see why, what things were around them that had welcomed them in, narratively speaking. I learned so much from this pass.

I love collage. And New York. Can't wait for all of us together again. It moves things so fast, and we'll have so much more to play with this time.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

EILEEN: Matriarch in the Making

Well, my two cohorts have beautifully drawn their characters for this blog, so I guess it's my turn. I, too, wish I had the knack for collaging. The best I can do is find a photo. It doesn't have to look a thing like one of my characters. It has to have the mood of the project. And it has to be something pleasant to look at, so I don't shy away from it. But I just can't collect bits and pieces. First of all, I'm so disorganized, that before I ever got them put together, my cat would eat half and the vacuum cleaner the other half. Second of all, it's like outlines. What the book starts out as tends to be completely different by the time it ends. When I send in an outline, I always put two sticky notes in the middle of it. "Warning: Incidents Liable to Change without Notice" and "Trust me."It's one of the reasons I like to stay with familiar editors. They know by now they can do just that. Even if the outline makes no sense at all. I know where the book is going. I just can't verbalize it until I actually tell the story. Did I tell you I'm very, VERY right brain dominant?
Anyway, back to Dee. Deirdre Dolores O'Brien-Ortiz, which as Dee puts it, translates into "Sorrowful, really sorrowful Irish Mexican chick." Dee is the oldest. And, being an oldest myself, I'm very familiar with her. I always say that oldest daughters in Irish Catholic families could be registered by the AKC as a herding group.
Dee feels like she's been in charge since she was four when Lizzie appeared on the scene. She's certainly always been more mature than her flighty parents. She believes she alone has protected her sisters from not only the madness of her parents' former lives as Phil and Fiona Fortune, the Jim and Tammi Faye of psychics, but her mother's sister, Aunt Rellie, who wants to court the girls so she can siphon their powers like extra gas for her sputtering tank.
Dee has always been responsible. She has been the de facto parent for her sisters since she grabbed her sisters and her mother's jewelry collection and went into hiding on her sixteenth birthday. She's now 28, and can't imagine any other life. She adores her sisters, but still tends to see them as the children she's had to protect all these years. After having to move three times to keep away from Aunt Rellie, she believes that this is always going to be her life.
Like Jen's Mare, Dee mirrors Rellie more than she'd like. Rellie's raison d etre(my french is excreble) is control. She's controlled the girls' parents, all the men in her life(and I mean all), and feels it only her right to control the girls. She is chronically furious that they manage to escape her. As for Dee, she also needs to control. Not out of selfishness, but out of a need to protect her sisters and herself from a capricious world and an avaricious aunt. It often sets her against them, especially Mare, who is really not interested in being in control. It obsesses her, because the one thing she can't quite control yet is her power.
Dee changes into things. She can become a hawk or a mouse, which she does to gain unique perspectives for her paintings that are her real soul. But on the downside, she still hasn't been able to focus her power enough, because every time she finds herself in a hot clinch with a guy, she shape-shifts.....into the guy's mother. Obviously her love life is not a screaming success.
So she's caught, terrified to further explore her gift or her art, frustrated by the stagnant state of her life, ashamed because sometimes she resents the sisters she loves so much. She would like to be able to use her power effectively to be a better painter. She is just afraid to do it, not only because after suffering the circus of life with her parents, she is mortally afraid of notoriety, but because years ago Aunt Rellie convinced her that withough her powerful aunt, she'd never be able to. Luckily for her, Danny arrives on his vintage motorcycle, the freeest spirit she's ever met, the greatest temptation, the greatest threat to her anonymity. Danny says he's here to research a book debunking her parents' powers. What he ends up doing is liberating Dee. Deliciously and quite magnificently. On the mountain beyond the town...that's if I can get an appointment for he mountain in between Mare and Lizzie, who evidetnly are already up there sparking thunderstorms with their heroes.
As for New York, Krissie, I am SO there.


KRISSIE: The Goddess Rules

Don't you love Jenny's collage? Absolutely gorgeous. I've tried making collages, done workshops etc., but all I end up with is a bunch of pretty pictures and words that seemed like they might be a good idea at the time but end up with no resemblance at all to the finished book. When I look at collages done by friends like Jenny, Barbara Samuel or Jill Barnett I know exactly which book they represent. I think maybe I need to do a collage coat instead, since sewing/quilting is the closest thing I get to a visual art.
Well, I finished the first draft while I was trapped in a hotel room last week, and if it's not brilliant it's damned close. The problem is, I've been evil and shut the other two sisters out, which makes it a lot easier to write. All my Lizzie has to worry about is Elric the Magnificent, master alchemist (and if anyone is making a connection to the anime series Full Metal Alchemist then you're not off-base). It's tough having a middle sister -- the oldest sister fights the battles and takes care of the younger ones, the youngest sister gets to be the rebel, and the middle sister just sort of sits there.
The thing is, I'm a middle sister and trust me, I'm a powerhouse. So I figure Lizzie is too, in her own, quiet way.
Lizzie's gift is alchemy, and she hates it -- gifts like that stole her family, sent her on the run away from the bad guys, keep her from holding a job, make her house overrun with bunnies. She longs for safety and normalcy -- she doesn't want to transmute things, either accidentally or on purpose. She just wants to learn enough to make gold and then fuggedaboudit (is that how you spell it?) and marry a boring man who's lousy in bed.
Aha! She's in for a surprise, the lucky girl. Elric the Magnificent is very very good in bed.

So in the first draft she's happily orgasmic, but how she learns to accept her gift has yet to be determined. That's for when the three of us writers get together and hash things out.

I'm ready for New York again, guys!

Saturday, March 11, 2006

JENNY: Mare, the Collage

Eileen and Krissie will be in here to talk about their sisters when they get out of deadline hell for their other books--it's not like there's a rush, we're still in the first draft stage of the Miss Fortunes so we're finding out new things about our characters all the time--but I wanted to talk about Mare's character development and collaging.

A collage is artwork made up of different images glued together. When you add three dimensional objects, it becomes assemblage but we're still going to call it collage here. So when I'm getting the idea for a book, trying to get the flavor of everything, I begin a collage and then keep adding to it throughout the writing of the book and into the rewrites. The collage gives me the touchstone for the characters, the setting, and the conflicts.

So I began Mare's collage quite awhile ago, back when we first started the collaboration, and posted it on my own blog, Argh Ink. In the beginning it looked like this:

I've added to it significantly since then because I know so much more about Mare and the story. And later today, I'm going to take a picture of the collage as it is now and put it here. Really, I am.

Back at you later . . .

Saturday, March 04, 2006

JENNY: Meet Mare

We're about halfway through the book now and we're just starting to understand each others' characters. Hell, I'm just starting to understand MY character. I had a good idea of her voice and her desires and the way she moved through life, but watching Eileen and Krissie write her and saying, "Yes, that's Mare," or "No, that's not quite it," having to explain her to them, and most of all, playing her off the antagoninst, all have really helped me shape the character faster than I usually do.

So in the beginning, we picked our characters, and I got Moira Mariposa, the butterfly baby of the family. She was Mari when she was little, but she goes by tough girl Mare now that she's 22. She spontaneous and vibrant and big with the snappy patter but bad with authority and empathy.

I didn't realize how bad she was with empathy until I wrote the first half. She's the baby of the family so she's spoiled, but it's a tough pull-up-your-socks kind of family, so she doesn't think other people should do things for her, she takes care of herself, she just doesn't think about other people. If something happens that forces her to notice them, she cares, but she tends to go ahead then and fix them so they fit into her worldview which is that everybody should be free and happy. This works most of the time but sometimes it backfires on her. Which she doesn't notice because she's not paying attention. So she ignores her bossy older sister/mother figure and giggles with her middle sister but mostly just goes through life arranging things the way she wants them, which is reflected in her power: she moves things with her mind, so she can literally rearrange things, no hands.

But I really like designing my protags to reflect my antags so I've made her the younger version of Aunt Rellie, kind of the Anakin to Rellie's Vader. And that made her a drama queen who loves sex and shiny bright things and wants to control the world. And a liar when it suits her.

I really love Mare, she's so much fun and she's so screwed up and then she gets together with Eileen's Dee and Krissie's Lizzie and the good times roll.

I love this book.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

KRISSIE: Who Comes Between Me and My Man

That's why Lizzie, better known as Elizabeth Alicia (Spanish pronounciation) O'Brien-Ortiz immediately disappears into her bedroom/workshop and doesn't come out again. So she doesn't have to deal with Dee and Mare fighting and can concentrate on the entirely luscious, slightly scary wizard type who's appeared in her kitchen and plans to teach her all sorts of things. There was a time when everyone who was writing series romances was encouraged to put babies and children in them, and I fought it like crazy. You can't have wild monkey love (where did that phrase come from?) if your kid is going to wander into the bedroom, and I've always had a weakness for the kitchen table ("what's mommy doing with the cornflakes?"). So no kids interfering.
And no sisters wandering around. Lizzie is the one who doesn't have an outside job, so she gets the house as her playground, and I'll fight to the death for it. Even though I'm so sweet and demure.
Eileen's right -- we'll all kill to have our characters be true to themselves. At least there can't be bloodshed via e-mail.
I think I'm going to run off to a hotel and write for a few days. Jenny invited me back to her wonderful, quirky house with the great guest room overlooking the river, and she still has a twelve pack of Tab waiting for me (my drug of choice) but that would require getting on an airplane (not that I'm loath but it takes more time) and besides, given the choice of writing or playing with Jenny guess what I'm gonna do? And if I'm up in that wonderful room working I'd still keep thinking of the fun that awaits downstairs. Sigh.

Nose to the grindstone, pedal to the metal, onward and upward. It's time to be a genius. A really fast genius.

In the meantime, one of my major influences on this novella is coming out on DVD on Tuesday, and anyone who has any taste at all will run and get it. It's Howl's Moving Castle, the most romantic movie of the year, and if you don't like anime, get over it. The hero will make your bones melt. Plus one firecracker of a heroine. And when he turns into a bird of prey ... Sigh.

Go for it. You won't be sorry. And the dubbed version is delicious as well, with Christian Bale sounding hot enough to make one forget about American Psycho.