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Saturday, November 20, 2010

Hi there, remember me? Been gone a long time with this move but I’m settled in and back to working on the book. Finished Danny’s last chapter and have a typed version of my character’s last one in the computer now too. May tweak both of them down the road but it is Kitty I’m interested in at the moment.
Had an intriguing interaction with this guy who reminded me of Danny as a young man the night before I left New York. He even helped pack the truck and was the last person to say goodbye as we drove off. The whole thing was quite curious, we’d never spoken before, and I wasn’t sure what to think about it since I’m a good 30 years older than him. Knew it was part of the story, but only this week realize how to use it for Kitty.
He’s going to be friendly with Danny because they’re so similar and she doesn’t like it. He stirs up her old resentments about Danny’s behavior before they reconciled. He also inadvertently brings up a secret she’s kept since she was in jail. So stay tuned, it’ll be worth it.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Checking in, very busy, almost frantic, trying to get moved out by November 1st. Have been in this apartment for 30 years, lots of junk to deal with, getting good and dirty, especially in the room I use as a studio. Threw out so much last Sunday, the super in my building told me to stop until the pile, which looked like a yard sale, got taken away by passerbys.
Have also been busy with the legal aspects of the move, signing the lease on the Cape and sending a deposit, seeing the lawyer here and getting those documents in order. Get my first cut of the money from escrow on Tuesday, and then I get to shop.
In the meantime, I have sold some furniture, still too much left, but I’m working on that. Have a whole section in the living room set up so people can rummage through things and hopefully take some home. Even have a selection of art I’m not in love with, and have already torn up a 6” stack of work on paper I never liked. Written a bit, mostly about the process, in my voice and Danny’s, but I need to stay focused on reality now, I can write all I want once I get to the Cape.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Got a little writing done this morning, Danny's new chapter as the story comes to an end. Already have the first draft of my side of it; how I’m about to move, he has his own opinions.
It’s kind of a relief to start writing again, went at least a week what with the chaotic turn things have taken. Most of the living room furniture is sold, some of it is already gone, and I have thirty years of memories and assorted junk to deal with.
Threw out some photos of the man I thought as the love of my life, such bad taste, and today I came across a bunch mail from him tied up in a ribbon. Really. Didn’t even read them. So much stuff, anyone want twenty-three years worth of National Geographic magazines?

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Back from a quick trip to the Cape, where in two days I found a job that is a ten-minute walk from the cute little apartment that will be mine to move into on October 15th. It is very close to the water, not to mention the library and post office, and I have several friends who live in town.
I know, sounds impossible, it’s the final chapter to the story, although I’m on the fence about whether to write it into the book or not. Much like the part where my assailant is paralyzed from the waist down and in a wheelchair, it’s almost too much.
Next on the agenda is to start packing, which really means eliminating practically everything I have accumulated in thirty years of living in this apartment. Daunting task, but have already sold a few paintings, and somebody was very happy to take half of the heap of clothing that was the result of yesterday’s closet purge. She may or may not give me money the next time I see her, but I’m more interested in someone having things than how much I’ll get for them.

Friday, September 17, 2010

I know, it’s been weeks since I posted, total rollercoaster at my house. Have finished most of this go round of editing. Have one more new chapter to write for Danny that will end the book, and then I’m going to edit it in sequence instead of by character.
Big news is, actually I have two big things, but first is I received the transcript from my assailant’s parole hearing and he is in complete and utter denial. But the commissioner who I spoke to first chaired the hearing and beat him up with things that came directly from my testimony. Having been heard, believed and then validated was very rewarding. Made it almost worth going through the ordeal.
But the other big news is, since my financial situation suffered through all this, my landlord has offered to buy me out of my lease as I’ve fallen behind and it is a big enough chunk of money for me to abandon ship and finally move to Cape Cod. Like next month. Paperwork still has to be signed, but I’m going up next week to look at apartments. As they say - don’t quit before the miracle happens.

Monday, August 30, 2010

One more week at the Barney’s Warehouse sale to go, ends Labor Day. Yesterday they had a raffle for the staff, they do this on the weekend, and first they pick 15 out of the army of us using match tickets, and I won one, which never happens. Never. And then those 15 get to pull lottery tickets out of a hat, and the prize is usually $5 or $10, but I got, wait for it, $50!!
Took it as a sign that things are finally looking up, I have an interview on Wednesday that seems promising, but then they all do. Fingers crossed?
Still editing, not a quickly as I’d like, but I think I have resolved the sequence problem now. There are 5 more chapters to work on and I am still waiting for a copy of the transcript of my assailant’s parole hearing, which may or may not get included. It’s more a matter of curiosity at the moment; I'd just like to know what he had to say.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Haven’t posted for a while, although I am busy revising the chapters for my character. Yesterday I reached the point in the story where I started this blog, and it triggered my interest in it again.
My biggest challenge at the moment is how to integrate my chapters into the sequence structure for Danny, who moves the story along, he finds out about the parole hearing coming up before I do, and I’m not sure if I should find out immediately afterwards or not.
Meantime, I have been working at the Barney’s Warehouse sale, the big Kahuna of designer bargain shopping, and it is grueling. People just do not know how to behave; I am frankly, embarrassed for them.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Tough week, hanging in there. Will be working the Barney’s sale at the end of the month. Menswear and accessories, a new direction for me. Have to learn how to knot a necktie, I guess.
Hot hot hot here in Manhattan, spend a lot of time by the river late in the day, after the sun is not so unbearable and there’s always a nice breeze. Yesterday, as I was on my way home, I stopped at the Christopher Street pier and discovered are people doing the tango there on Sundays and Wednesday evenings. Even got asked to danced but I don’t know how. Will go back with my camera soon, and of course, work it into the story.
Have finished revising the Kitty and Danny chapters and put them away for the moment. Am about to dive back into mine, not a happy thought, but has to be done since that is the main focus of the book.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

A few days since the last post; been editing Kitty’s chapters and am pretty sure they’re done. Also wrote a third draft of the last one in my voice, it'll close the book, but it’s still a bit short.
Monday I tried to apply for Medicaid, yes it’s that bad, and found out I already it had it from when I got emergency food stamps in April. Still have them too, didn’t know, but that afternoon there was a letter in the mail saying both were being cancelled that very day because of missing paperwork.
Had to scramble to save what I didn’t even know I had, but it seems things with that are okay now. Still no work, but the book is coming along. Stay in the moment, stay in the moment, my new mantra.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Still digesting the information about the parole hearing results, and I am moved by the well wishes and concern from your comments. It’s been, as an observer, when I can separate myself from being in the middle of the mess of my life, interesting to see other people react to what has been happening.
At first, I felt rejected or maybe abandoned, when they told me they couldn’t listen to it or started to cry. I’ve only now come to realize it wasn’t about me, but the circumstances.
So now, as I try to pick up my pen and start writing again, I can just give myself a break instead of expecting to hop up and move on. A day or two, then back to work. Perhaps I all I need is to sit in the sun.

Friday, July 30, 2010

So he’s in for two more years, I found out a little over an hour ago. It’s a huge relief, I've been struggling with depression but now I can move forward. I don’t know to what yet, but I can stay in New York for a while, although thinking about leaving has been engaging.
I have been working on Kitty’s new chapters, she has four, the last one is not quite finished yet, but what I have for her ties her story with Danny up nicely and she also reflects on my situation as an observer. Still a lot of work to do, but I'm up for it.
I got a copy of the victim impact hearing transcript last week, and oddly enough, I sounded just like Danny in it. I knew he was my favorite character, but he sounds more like me than I do. Interesting.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Been working on the new Kitty chapter, days in the making but now typed into the computer and emailed to myself. That’s my new trick; it’s a great way to saved documents, much easier than constantly burning them to a disc.
I had a great deal of editing to do, and I had to get her voice back since I haven’t worked with her for months. She has to sound different from Danny, but since they’re a couple and have the same stories, they have to sound alike too.
Waiting on the transcripts from my victim impact statement hearing. The big parole board meeting is only two weeks away. That should motivate me, one way or the other, to get the story written. Finally.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Woke up this morning thinking about Kitty talking about Danny, I got up and wrote it down. It was only a little over half a page, but it was very clear and concise. My original plan was for three voices, so perhaps it will be Kitty after all.
I don’t understand my reluctance to write about my experience at the victim impact hearing, what with all the drama around it, how upset I was dreading it, it’s curious I can’t bring myself put it down on paper. Yet.
The transcript will probably take care of that, get me in touch with the feelings I had that morning. I think I was so stunned to find out he was in the wheelchair, I’m still trying process that. I’ll get there, eventually, and until then, I can just get started working with Kitty.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Just typed another chapter for Danny into the computer, I think it’ll be his last one. He talks about the victim impact hearing I went to and wanting to be at the parole hearing as well.
He also talks about the therapy he and Kitty are doing to prepare for the trial of person who shot her. Love Danny, sorry to have to let him go, but I already know when I’m done with this project I’ll be going back to beef up J’s Girls.
But first I have to finish this one, start writing my experience at the hearing. Have sent off for a transcript of that meeting and have also requested a copy of the transcript for the parole board hearing that my assailant will be at; I’m told I’m entitled to see it. Not sure if I'll put them verbatim into the book, which is, at least my character’s part, factual. I want readers to know I am telling the absolute truth.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

A week, Friday to Thursday, since the parole hearing; still haven’t done any serious writing about it. Today perhaps, usually takes me about a week to know what I’m feeling.
It’s in my journal, and here too of course, and rolling around in my brain when I’m sleeping. I’ve had countless conversations about it, but addressing the topic in my own voice for the book just hasn’t been happening.
Hearing Danny though, finished the editing on his other chapters; they’re all typed and ready to read now, so maybe I should start with him. Still have to wait until the first week of August to find out the parole board’s decision, which is better than November; let’s hope it doesn’t take that long for my character to start speaking up again.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The next step, besides revising the new Danny chapters, I think I’m sending him and Kitty to therapy, is to get a copy of, or the number on, the police report of my assault.
Which, given it was in 1984, is almost impossible. I’ll get a copy of the transcript from the hearing on Friday, which is helpful, but this police report thing is a major trip down the rabbit hole. I spent over an hour on a series of phone calls with people explaining why they couldn’t do it, but finally I got a woman who found it interesting, that’s the trick, get them interested, and she spent another hour on her computer rooting around for me.
Because, apparently, according to the parole board people, I may be eligible for financial compensation or at least relocation money, but first I need that copy of the police report to fill out their application.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Yes, I’ve been neglecting this blog, but not the writing. Mostly I’ve been editing the new Danny chapters, which once I read them, were too repetitive, so I’m cutting them down.
As far as my life goes, that’s been quite enlightening. Even for me, living it. I’m glad I took two friends with me when I met the Parole Board Commissioner, because what he said was so over the top that I need witnesses to confirm it’s the truth.
The reason my assailant’s up for parole early is he’s now paralyzed from the waist down and in a wheelchair. Poetic justice, and before I had time to feel sorry for him, they read his file into the record and I got to hear more of his crimes and one involved a woman who was 7 months pregnant. So, still digesting, but no he gets no pity from me.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Haven’t posted in a few days, got really involved with writing the new Danny chapters, there are twelve in total for him now, plus a couple new ones for myself.
Now for some editing. Am currently up to date with my life, but the parole hearing is this Friday, so any damn thing can happen. They won’t make their decision for a couple weeks, and I may not know one way or the other until November, when, if he’s going to get out, he’ll be released.
Still makes me crazy that they don’t intend to notify me ahead of time, one way or the other. In for another couple years, or, by the way, he got out yesterday. I’ll be addressing that for sure on Friday.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

A couple days later and I’ve written then typed two more chapters for Danny. I’ve also edited the first six of the eleven chapters I’ve got for him so far.
Am leaning towards not having a third character now. Have lots of notes for that now non-existent voice, but most of it Danny can say as well. Bouncing back and forth between us is enough.
He has way more to say in this book that he did in the first. Perhaps the reason why it hasn’t been picked up yet by an agent is that it may not be finished. Not ready to go back to it, but I can see that I will. Still working on this, waiting to see how the hearing turns out.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Danny chapter I started yesterday ended up being two. It was already too long when I left it, and this morning I decided it wasn’t done, so now it’s twice as long but separated.
Actually, there’s a natural division; in the first half, he talks about my circumstances. He’s concerned about how they’ll affect Kitty, and how, with our similar backgrounds, we, as people turned out so differently.
She tells him, in a loving moment, that he, their relationship, is the difference. She has him, and I don’t. Well, I do, since I’m making him up, but it’s not far from the truth. The second, now new, chapter is about them, and why love matters, how it can make that difference.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Hand wrote the next section of the new Danny chapter this morning, and then typed the whole thing this afternoon. Linking him up with my story, he says things I can’t about myself.
Gossipy stuff, things that would be too self-indulgent or too filled with self-pity if I say them myself.
But they work coming out of his mouth, as observations. And truth be told, I’m sure people are saying the exact same things about me anyway. My situation is chitchat-worthy; enough friends ask how I am in that overly concerned tone that I realize it’s common knowledge.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Danny’s back, woke up thinking about a new scene for him, he is the most vocal of all the characters. Can’t conjure him up, but he does make himself known.
Not sure where this new scene is going, if it’s just a brief interlude or the beginning of something longer, more chapters even. I could end the book with him either way, and I’m having trouble making a connection with the third character.
Needs to be three, But I keep changing my mind as to who it will be. Eillen's the logical choice, and there’s Kitty. And I have Mercedes as the wild card, but until I decide on who, there’s me as well as Danny.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

There were two victims in the incident my project is about, myself as well as the woman I was working for. I usually leave her out of it when I tell the story, but I’ve got her permission to include her now that I’m writing about it.
Names have changed; even the assailant has an alias. Every thing else is factual and as close to the truth as I can recall it.
Today I wrote a chapter about a session with my DA counselor in which I realized I might not have been his primary target. He cased us out the week before and she did most of the talking because I was afraid of him. I've always thought he assumed I was alone the day he came back for the attack, and was surprised when she suddenly came out of her office. I’m not so sure anymore - now I think it was her.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Still typing, spent the morning on the food stamp office episode, it is hard to believe that was only 2 months ago, I was so upset then I burst into tears, grabbed my papers and threatened to throw myself in the river because the woman doing my intake was an idiot.
Lucky she was so oblivious, as the words came out of my mouth, I realized they could have been my one way ticket to Bellevue. All she heard was an old white bitch get uppity with her.
Much better now, still broke, still have the hearing in 2 weeks, but I had a 45-minute phone interview with a gallery in a town that is at least 1000 miles away from here. Totally not New York, and not the Cape either, it could happen though, have a good feeling about this.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Been typing, rather feverishly, am now almost current with the true part of the project. Today it was a mix of my second session with the DA counselor and stories from when I was 12.
I didn’t post yesterday because I was feeling cranky and sick of my complaining. Typed the part about when I first looked my assailant up online found out about the parole hearing.
But then, after a trip to the gym and then a nice long sauna, I came home and watched WHIP IT, the fabulous roller derby film Drew Barrymore directed that stars Ellen Page, Marcia Gay Hardin (who is perfection) and Juliette Lewis, among other great performances. Loved it, very endearing, like Ms Barrymore - Netflix it immediately.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Hand wrote and then typed the chapter leading up to discovering I would have to deal with my assailant being up for parole and all the scrambling I’ve done recently.
How I was disappointed to not get the job of my dreams on Cape Cod, and how I lost a really good one here. But I also wrote about completing J’S Girls and starting the new project.
Then I took a two and a half hour walk, all the way up to the brand new park that just opened up passed Chelsea Piers, fabulous job, gorgeous landscaping, and then back down to North Moore where they are in the middle of the renovation and then home. Needed it, I feel better; I’ve got someplace new to walk to besides the High Line.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Typed a new chapter about 9/11 today using a previous version of it. Still on the fence about if it goes with this project or not. While my life flows from one event into the next, what makes sense to me might throw you.
And thanks Alex, for noticing how strange it was of my father not to include my brother or me on my mother’s headstone. Says a lot about him, the old narcissist, actually.
So, twenty-two chapters in the computer, three more in the works, several more planned. Then I have to wait for life to catch up to see how it ends. Does he get out? Will I have to move? When and where?

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Good day for writing, way too hot, a big storm brewing, happy to stay inside. Wrote about an unfortunate love story episode of mine. Aren’t they all? This dude, who I once considered the love of my life, faked his death.
Yeah, oh well and whatever. Always something going on at my house, more fodder for the novel. Might as well make use of it instead feeling sorry for myself. Or embarrassed.
Been posting shots on my other blog of my mother’s grave at the National Cemetery in Arlington. Odd the big controversy that has stirred up about mis-marked graves there, but I’m pretty sure hers is right, but neither my brother nor I are mentioned on her headstone.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Got a confirmation reminder letter from the parole board about the hearing in the mail today. As if I could forget. Makes it more real, I guess.
Hand wrote a chapter today, progress. It’s an interesting process, fitting my real life and self into the fictional world I’ve created. I like being referred to as a friend of Kitty and Danny’s by this new narrator. Since my character only tells the facts, I don’t mention them at all.
Seattle has been suggested as a potential relocation destination, so has Santa Fe. Never been to either one, LA is the only place on the West Coast I’ve visited. Got my tattoo on Sunset in 1980, laughed a lot that vacation. I stood in Marilyn Monroe’s footprints and got a copy of her dressing room key ring, Fox Lot 4 - #5, I still use it today.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Perhaps I’ve tap danced around the real issue enough. When I was DC last week, Steve asked me about the gory details regarding the parole hearing, which I’m not sure I should broadcast out into the ether yet. But I get it, the question.
It’s sufficient to know someone with a long felony record assaulted me in a violent manner. The idea he’s up for parole is astonishing. Mix in how I found this out while researching the new project, plus my options of protection being to testify or leave town, the whole thing is extraordinary.
What my NYC friends don’t want to hear is the relocation theory. They can’t understand that I might want to go. But as I discussed with my counselor at the DA’s office today, it'd be easier to have a plan instead of panic if he gets out in November. I’ll keep working on the book but am open to suggestions, if you have any, of where to go.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

I started working on the new character today, some is from scratch and some of it is pieced together from what I edited out of my own character's observations of Kitty and Danny's fictional life that was written before I decided my section needed to be the truth. Still in notebook form, nothing is typed yet.
Have to play with her voice a little; she may sound too much like me. Well, they all do, even Danny, who curses like a sailor, which I am known to do. I find I do it more though when I’m working on him, I noticed I said the F word a lot last week.
Also not sure what this new character will talk about, she’s meant to be a bridge between my autobiographical story and the world I created in J’S GIRLS. She will tell all the things I’d like to say but are not necessarily factual, or what I know people think about my situation with the assault and the impending parole hearing in July.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

I’ve been away a few days, visiting the DC area. Didn’t get much writing done, although I had some really good ideas about what to do next since I’m done with Danny for a while.
Saw old college friends, and the first leg of the trip was to see my mother’s grave in the National Cemetery in Arlington. Enormous, place quite beautiful. Photos to be posted on my Maureen Donegal blogsite. Check them out.
Have settled on Eileen, Kitty’s AA sponsor, as the third character. She will be the link between my autobiographical story and Danny. She, of course, is a fictional figure but also reality based the way he is too.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Finished the first round of typed chapters for Danny. Spell checked but not edited yet. May print it to take with me while I’m away. Or maybe not. Let it marinate for a while.
Could just go with what my character has to say next. Danny broke that up nicely, good place to stop. Move on to the current situation, my finding about the parole hearing and meltdown.
Because it was, two months ago, when I found out. Stirred Danny back up, thought I was done with him in J’S GIRLS, but obviously I wasn’t. Perhaps I needed a nice cop to protect me from my feelings.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Typed more Danny yesterday, almost caught up with my character in the time frame sequence. Not sure what to do next. There’s the third character, Eileen, I’ve thought of introducing, or I could bring Kitty into it, although she would probably just be echoing what Danny has said, so that might be too much.
In the meantime, I have found a bird babysitter so I get to take part of my sojourn into the past, stir up some of that. Plan to visit my mother’s grave as well, put some flowers on it.
Haven’t been to her grave since she was buried there in 1971. Too far away, from me as well as the rest of her family; but it should have an interesting effect on what I’m writing. The travel, the trip, the visit.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Danny roll continues, typed two chapters from the edited notebook today. Read the next one in preparation for typing tomorrow and had some great ideas for changes to make before I begin.
Was trying to visit Alex and Patricia the end of this week, do an old college buddy road trip, but couldn’t find a babysitter for my parrot. Steve had a funny suggestion for a story about being trapped by a bird that has voice control over a security system.
Actually, it’s not all that far from the truth. Pacino, that’s the parrot, has absolute rule over this roost. Now if he’d just get a job, I could write and he could be boss, and life as we know it would be perfect.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Been typing all day, on a Danny roll. So much easier to do than what I wrote for myself to say. Talking about the same incidents, just like his voice better. He’s all Let’s Do This Thing, woke up thinking about it this morning.
Tempted to go on to his next chapter, not doing the multiple hand written rewrites this time. Have it in notebooks that I’ve edited and copied over once. Reading it through after a spell check, fiddling around a little, but then moving on.
Haven’t given my character a name yet, didn’t need to when she was talking. Danny refers to her as the redhead, or Eileen’s friend (Eileen is Kitty’s AA sponsor), don’t know what to call her. Me. Not going to use my real name to publish it under - should I use Maureen Donegal?

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Took a little time out, had a new job I thought I was doing really well at, sold like a demon, was always on time, both managers loved me. The designer called to find out when I was in because she’d heard such nice things from the staff was well as the clients. Showed up last weekend and she said she didn’t like that way the outfit I was given to wear looked on me. The next day I was fired. Wasn’t given a reason, I’m sure it was because I’m 5’1” and 60, although I’m told I don’t look my age.
So, I’m back to the book, and getting ready for the parole hearing I’m testifying at in a month. I understand the posts from the prologue of J’S GIRLS have been confusing, so I’ll go back to my original plan. Have typed fourteen chapters of the new book that will need to edited later, twelve for my character and two so far for Danny from J’S GIRLS who appears as a fictionalized version the cop I kept encountering in real life during the events surrounding the incident.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

"That said, I went about pretending things were perfect. The antiques shop was a success, I met Riley there, I was standing at the door straightening the literature as he came in. No bells or whistles, but I knew he was interested in me.
He had politics written all over him. Grey suit, light hair and eyes, with no recognizable accent. Tall, leaning towards teddy bear but fit, probably played tennis. Not my type, but Hazel would love him. All this registered as I wrote the specs for the table he was supposedly interested in on the back of my card. Still thinking about a possible commission, I shook his hand as he told me his name. It was no surprise when he came back on Saturday, this time in a sports jacket and jeans. He passed on the table, too big he said, and then he asked me out for drinks after work.
Had plans, I lied, perhaps coffee on Sunday?
He suggested brunch, better still, and I agreed."

The next installment from the woman in the prologue of J'S GIRLS

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

"The doctor in DC suggested therapy. I said no. I thought I could leave it behind, that it was over and done with.
But wherever you go, there you are.
Mostly I watched TV, or lay around on the library sofa reading leather bound classics. There were two fat dachshunds always in need of walking, which I took over from Gladys, Hazel’s housekeeper, once my face had healed enough to be in public.
Poor Gladys tried hard not to look. So wanted to ask, so not wanting to react. The story was a taxi accident. Heard it often enough that I could believe it myself.
My first official function was Hazel’s Fourth of July party after the Potomac fireworks. A very late supper for twenty, I sat next to a curator from the Phillips who introduced me to a woman opening an antiques shop on Dupont Circle after Labor Day who was happy to hire me.
I went to work wearing one of those black suits with the snakeskin pumps, which toned down nicely with a string of pearls. It was then I began dreaming about New York. The winter light in my apartment, the black and white bathroom tiles, all my clothes stuffed into the closet. Maybe I was feeling safe enough to remember.
But there were no real memories; just flashes, glimpses, images."

Abridged version of the next sequence from the J'S GIRLS prologue

Monday, May 24, 2010

"I had a good look in the mirror as the cops clomped up the stairs. Stitches were required, my nose was broken; clearly I’d been raped, the detectives kept their distance.
My aunt Hazel swept into the hospital in the middle of the night while I was refusing to cooperate with the investigation. Backing me up, she insisted we would be leaving as soon as I was released from the hospital. Which was the following morning, against the doctor’s advice.
J had kicked in the TV and broken the boom box, scattering the pieces down the stairs, but there was still the bed and kitchen things which Hazel left for Goodwill. She let me keep the carved chest from India I used as a coffee table since it fit in the trunk with my clothing. I spread out on the back seat with my pillows and quilt attempting to get comfortable. Which was hard to do with two broken ribs, but the Lincoln, you know Hazel would rent a Lincoln, was a smooth enough ride once we were out of the tunnel.
And then I was gone."

The woman from J'S GIRLS prologue escapes New York the first time.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

"The next day I went to the gym and bought groceries. Only once, when I checked for mail, did I think something might be wrong. Just a weird sensation I had as I looked into the box before going upstairs. Said hello to my neighbor who was in the hall with his nervous little poodle, then I unlocked the door and went inside.
Kicking off my shoes, I put away the groceries. Then I sat on the bed to roll a joint with some soap opera on the television. Taking a hit, I got up to get a drink.
Hey Sugar.
Where had he been hiding?
He reached for the joint.
How had he gotten in?
Without thinking, I handed it to him.
Why didn’t I try to escape?
He grabbed my wrist and twisted me towards him.
And then and then and then."

The following installment from the prologue of J'S Girls.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

"I slept late. Smoked pot and danced around to music on the boom box in the dark by myself. I was spending my way through the coffee can money when the phone rang on a Sunday afternoon. Thinking it was my aunt Hazel; I answered it.
Hey Sugar and all that crap.
Like nothing had happened.
He’d waited too long, his only mistake, I was done and told him so.
He didn’t like it.
I hung up.
I was an idiot.
When the downstairs doorbell buzzed an hour later, I ignored it. I also unplugged the phone. The evening news was on when I heard him come up the stairs. He banged on the door twice; I was on the other side of it silent and scared to death.
The moment passed and he was gone."

Things heat up with J and the woman from the prologue of J'S GIRLS.

Friday, May 21, 2010

"The next time J hit me I slapped him back and got a beating. I complained to Cleo and she warned me to do what I was told. Then he reached across the table at a Chinese restaurant to slap my face. I ran out and jumped into a taxi, and spent the next few nights with my friends on Mercer Street. They’d only seen me with him that first night, I never told them who he was.
A week passed.
Nothing. Not even Cleo called.
Already booked at Baby’s the following week, I went to work as scheduled. She knew about the fight, and although she was full of advice, I knew she was afraid of J. But my shift passed without incident, I took my money and went home.
Another week passed. No evening dates. No afternoons with Cleo. No ringing phone. I went to the gym, had my nails done, poked around a few museums pretending I had a normal life.
Because of the J problem, I didn’t work for a month.
It was great."

A sequential installment from the woman in the prologue of J'S GIRLS.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Reporting in, exhausted from the new job, but I appear to be good at it and once I’m used to standing 8 hours a pop and running up and down stairs, I kid you not, at least 30 times a day, it’ll be fine. I’m already writing during my lunch break, so the new Danny chapter is coming along.
The Parole Board situation is at a standstill until I speak to them in July, but I just met someone who swore he was in the jury pool back in 1984 for my assailant. At first I did not believe him, it was too weird, but he knew his name, described him perfectly and how he’d sat next to his lawyer taking notes.
But I suppose, given the circumstances, if I’d been in that jury pool, I’d remember his name and have a clear image of him and his notebook too. The case was all over the news especially after he escaped from the courthouse. Oops, did I forget to tell you that part?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

"Within a month I was seeing johns at Cleo’s. Soon I was working other houses, sometimes there would be a couple of girls, but mostly I was alone. Once in awhile the madam would send me to see a client at his office. I had regulars who followed me from place to place. They paid for half hour chunks of my time, in an apartment with at least a balcony, if it wasn’t a penthouse.
I had a bad scare at the Hilton where I ran out of the room in just my coat and shoes as I stuffed the rest of my clothes into my pockets. I took the stairs a few flights down before stopping to slip on my skirt to get out of the building. He’d tried to strangle me with a telephone cord, and needless to say, he didn’t pay me. J was pissed, but not at the john. He smacked my face after I told him what happened."

The woman from the prologue of J'S GIRLS talks about working for J.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

So you are out there, sometimes, as you might know, it's hard to tell.

"I knew Kitty, having arrested her a number of times, and she had a compelling, natural sweetness about her that survived turning tricks. Her main concern was for his safety since he had already been in a fistfight with J; hence the black eye he had been so secretive about a few weeks before. She started to cry as she spoke about them both carrying guns, she was convinced one of them would die.
She was also worried about her friends, in particular Mercedes, as J had threatened to hurt them too while he was hitting her. Interesting how she had a cracked rib and both arms were black and blue, but J had not touched her face. Although I could see the grip marks at the base of her neck where he held her during the beating."

Caroline from Chapter 4 of J'S GIRLS when she first realized her new partner Danny was seeing Kitty in the beginning of their relationship.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

So, no comments for more than a week, maybe you’ re bored. Hope not, it’s been a rough month; I didn’t want to give a blow by blow of the drama. But I can tell you now, since it’s starting to lift, and it’s also part of the process.
First off, there was my meltdown about the impending parole hearing and visits to the DA’s office to prepare my victim’s impact statement. I have an appointment to meet with the Parole Board the first Friday in July. I won’t know if it will be enough to keep my assailant in jail until they decide in November, when he may or may not be released. My option then will be to relocate, but they won’t tell me one way or the other until he actually is free. Really.
In the meantime, I started a new job this week, and although I’m still counting pennies, the money will be coming in soon. Optimistic, and typing up the current story as I write it. And I’ll continue to post bits and pieces of J’S GIRLS, perhaps even some more Caroline tomorrow.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

"Kitty says some are sicker than others, and she knows a lot of off the wall people. Including me with my dreaded people pleasing, and Tash, who is out of her mind all the time now.
You should have seen her yesterday, when those two cops were at the gallery wiring their equipment up through the security cameras. Garcia she knew and had done her routine on before, but the new girl, the tech named Bonnie, who Tash kept calling Bunny, got the full treatment. Big toothy grin when Bonnie saw the picture of Tash in her naked tattooed glory in the bathroom. Much more predatory than the smile Kitty had when Bonnie figured out that the handsome devil Serpico clone in those pictures in the office was her new boss Danny.
I knew Tash would do something, act out at some point, given how bad her dreams were the night before. Coming on to a cop, straight girl or not, was better than beating someone up. Me, for instance, even her pug, has been staying out of her way. So I let her tie me up and get it out of her system. But isn’t that what girlfriends are for?"

Fiona talking about her lover Tasha in Chapter 11 of J'S GIRLS

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

"Six weeks later he introduced Cleo and cocaine to the equation. Half street, half Jamaican, she slipped into the car with us one night and I found myself in the middle too high to care who was touching me. Then it was just a hop skip and jump to her apartment on Astor Place.
When he left, I was still there smoking a joint and sharing the bowl of ice cream she’d brought back to the bed when she locked the door behind him.
We didn’t have sex, Cleo and I, unless he was with us. She was part of the plan, but I didn’t get it. At least not until we went on a double date and Luis, the other guy who I thought was with Cleo, leaned across her and kissed me in front of J. I thought we were doing whatever it was among friends. I didn’t know money was involved until he handed J cash after Cleo and I rolled around with him while J left to use the bathroom.
And there you have it.
Why it’s called a trick."

The unnamed woman Danny goes to DC to interview speaks about how sex with J led her to prostitution, from the prologue of J'S GIRLS.

Monday, May 10, 2010

"She’s warming up again, gave me all the signals yesterday. Took the clip out of her hair. Nice smoochy kiss at the elevator.
Hooking up later, said she had something to tell me that’ll make me really happy.
Was on her way to get her nails done since the gallery is closed on Mondays. She’ll be getting waxed too, which is silly since I couldn’t care less about that.
Like it that she does though, that she wants to, for me.
Like that she’ll be picking up a new shirt in some color I’d never buy for myself. Doing right about now, I think.
The routine, our little reconciliation dance.
Her hair comes down, the body gets waxed; I get a new shirt and we have spectacular sex. Her way first, hungry and fast, then mine, later, slow and relaxed.
Oh yeah.
I mean, come on, what’s better than make-up sex?
Especially if you weren’t fighting, but just haven’t seen each other in a while?
But then, waiting for Kitty’s always worth it for me.
Rocks my world, that girl.

Danny talking in Chapter 9 of J'S GIRLS about Kitty the day after she came to his precinct about those photographs she got at her gallery.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

"When he came home with me, there was some mad groping inside the door and then he stopped, insisting on wine and music. He picked Patsy’s old Crosby Stills and Nash album that I’d turned to as a kid for comfort when things got bad. It was perfect. Took his time, lots more kissing, and gave me my first earth shattering, lights flashing, think I’m having a heart attack orgasm, and I never got over it. And because we were both in our twenties, he turned the record over and did it again.
I was like one of those baby ducklings that fixate on the first thing they see moving…
Hell in a hand basket, my mother used to say about me.
Does it ever stop being about Mommy?
She never came to see me in jail, nobody did.
Except Danny, at least for a little while, in the beginning.
Oh, and Caroline, of course, but that’s another story."

Kitty talking about the first time she had sex with Danny in J'S GIRLS

Saturday, May 8, 2010

"It totally baffled me, still does sometimes, what went on between them. But then, I don’t like men. I like Danny though; I get what she sees in him, but the very idea of what they do in bed skeeves me out. You know it’s got to be intense. For me it’d be like being assaulted. You can’t tell me it doesn’t hurt. But you can see what it does for her, especially when they’ve been away from each other for a while. That makeup sex, that being ravaged, and you know that’s what he does when she lets him in again. Frankly, between you and me, sometimes I think it’s why she holds him back, for the makeup sex. And I’m pretty sure when this little drama with these photographs is over, they’ll get back together and it’ll be fireworks.
But her way, always her way, you can count on it."

Fiona on Kitty and Danny's relationship in Chapter 5 of J'S GIRLS.

Friday, May 7, 2010

"We once had a cocker spaniel my husband swore would stop what she was doing to go sit by the door 10 minutes before I came home. It could be any time of day or night since I didn’t have a regular schedule; that dog just knew I was coming.
He is like that with Kitty; I watched it wash over him today about 5 minutes before she arrived in the squad room. That subtle shift of him becoming her lover as he sensed her presence downstairs the same way our dog used to do with me. He softened with one deep breath, and then stared at the door as he prepared to greet her.
She held back when their eyes met, but they smiled across the room at each other with a certain amount of heat…..It is not just sex, although their relationship is certainly sexual, but there is more to it. Love, yes, they definitely love each other, but the connection is deeper and more visceral. Even now, at 48 and 50, when their relationship works, they cannot keep their hands off each other."

Caroline on Kitty and Danny's relationship in Chapter 4 of J'S GIRLS.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Now that I’ve got you a little afraid, both the first novel and the new project are scary stories; tomorrow I’ll introduce another aspect to J’S GIRLS, the romance between Kitty and Danny.
In the meantime, I have now typed up nine pages from Danny’s new monologues, of which there are over a hundred pages, that may work better in J’S GIRLS instead. Need to proof it and think about places where pieces of it will blend nicely into the first novel. I also have an idea that ties in with this new work that Fiona can talk about in one of her J’S GIRLS chapters as well.
So, once again, I get to go back to a place I really enjoyed being, that little fictional world I created last year. I recently read Stephen King will put his novels away once he thinks they are finished and then get them back out six months later to is see if they need to be revised or rewritten. Can’t argue with that, he seems to know what he’s doing.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

"I was on my way home the other night when this bottle-throwing derelict chased me down the street into a deli. The first bottle flew passed my head and crashed on the sidewalk about ten feet in front of me. Choosing to ignore it, I try not to engage in street drama, I didn’t turn around as the second bottle just missed my shoulder and I realized I might be a target.
It was still fairly early and lots of people were out, so I moved into a group of them as I hurried to get around the corner. Another empty bottle whizzed by, missing all of us but startling my companions. I was almost at the door of the deli where I knew the countermen had big knives and might protect me. I slipped inside and was halfway up the aisle before I saw my assailant. A white man, scruffy, maybe a junkie, in a tattered plaid shirt, he was swinging one last bottle over his head and screaming I’d stolen his radio."

Opening to the untitled new project I'm currently working on.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Been busy typing the untitled story, deep into the factual account of the incident; am about to start the part of going to see the line up. My counselor at the DA’s office says she’s happy I am looking at the future. Which is much better than how I was 2 weeks ago.
It was rough going for a while, things are still pretty rocky, but my attitude has changed. I think it’s because I’m writing again, although I couldn’t write because of the stress; the chicken or the egg thing, I suppose. Took some pictures down there today, and will post them on Maureen Donegal this week.
Had a revelation about J’S GIRLS, which apparently isn't quite long enough yet, word count wise. Danny is the cop in the new piece too and in it he talks about what led up to the situation in J’S GIRLS, and I now think, since nobody in publishing has read it, I should figure out a place to insert some of his new monologues into J’S GIRLS instead.

Monday, May 3, 2010

"Hate police stations. Always the same. Same sounds, same dinghy walls needing to be painted. Just like jail, same desperation. I was in the middle of a sale when Fiona called not an hour after she left to see Danny. Told Tash we should come right away, so as soon as I was done, we closed and went up. Tasha made a scene kissing Fiona then immediately freaked out over what was on the walls and the drawing the sketch artist did with Fiona.
Not that I can blame her, I had had better sense than show her what had come in the mail, but Danny’s stuff was even more horrible. Morgue shots with blue lips and hideous stitches, bodies wrapped in muddy plastic.
Took me a minute to realize they were the same girls.
Tash knew all of them, the three victims, she also knew the man in the drawing. Hissed at it.
Then I saw it, that awful drawing.
It was J.
I had to sit down."

Opening to chapter 7 of J'S GIRLS, where Kitty speaks about seeing the sketch which resembles J, who has been dead for many years.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

My guess is Kitty, the last character I’ll be introducing, is be the one most readers will identify with; maybe not the men, but definitely the women. She is certainly the one I know best. And Danny loves her, which makes my little fictional world perfect.
She overcame a difficult childhood and has been in jail, as have both Fiona and Tasha, but turned her life around to become a successful art gallery owner. She had help, especially from Caroline, and Danny of course, but still struggles with her insecurities.
Her biggest problem is losing herself in her relationship with Danny, who tends to be overwhelming. Or perhaps not, it may be more about her evaporating, which is how he describes it, and why, in spite of how much she loves him, Kitty resisted contacting Danny about those terrible photographs she has recently been receiving at the gallery.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

"They sat me down with a sketch artist and while I was describing the guy, I heard Danny and Caroline talking about how their fingers weren’t burned in Kitty’s pictures and how they weren’t wearing the jewelry they had on in her pictures when their bodies were found either.
I couldn’t get over how casual the cops were, especially Danny. I’d never really ever seen him in action before; he’s always just been Kitty’s boyfriend. He was even wearing a gun in a holster, and winked at me when he saw me staring at it.
Caroline was pointing out how the weird bruising on one girl’s neck had been caused by the pearls she had on in the images Kitty sent. And the ones on the other girl’s wrists were from the tasseled drapery cord she was tied to the bed with.
Oh, look at this, oh, look at that. I did too; I couldn’t help myself, until I thought I’d be sick. Then Tasha blew in with Kitty and turned everything upside down."

Excerpt from Chapter Five in J'S GIRLS as Fiona talks about bringing the photos Kitty received to Danny at the police station.

Friday, April 30, 2010

I was going to do another excerpt from J’S GIRLS today, but I thought first I should introduce the next character. This will be Fiona, who is lovers with Tasha, the woman who works for Kitty at the gallery. Her routine is to teach yoga in the morning and then drop by afterwards with lattes for the three of them.
Tasha doesn’t actually have speaking chapters, although she is a vivid personality. She’s also the only character that I knew who I’d cast in the movie, if one gets made, Cameron Diaz. Covered in tattoos and with a really bad attitude; Tasha’s crazy but beautiful.
Fiona is pretty too but much easier going; Kitty at one point describes her as being a big puppy. If pressed, Jennifer Garner comes to mind. In tomorrow’s post, Kitty has sent Fiona up to Danny with the images she‘s received. Fiona recognizes one of the victims on his wall of evidence and remembers the woman had a photographer boyfriend.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

"I knew it was important by the way he waved me over after Bonnie found me. Since he was on his cell as I walked up, no doubt he was talking to Kitty. Pointing at his computer screen as he spoke calming into the phone, he clicked through a series of images remarkably like the murders we were investigating.
He wrote on the notebook in front of him that they had come in the mail at the gallery, then scribbled that more had arrived today.
I whispered he should get her in here; he shrugged and mouthed back he was trying but she was too busy.
Kitty would have no idea what we were working on and was more likely to be upset about contacting him than the images themselves. As they spoke, I studied the pictures again; without question, they were the original crime scenes, where as we had only been involved with the dumpsites.
And now Kitty had a third set which would surely prove to be our most recent Jane Doe."

Opening to the second Chapter of J'S GIRLS - Caroline is speaking.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

"I’m thinking it’s a woman.
If it were a guy doing this, there’d be penetration. Or, if he can’t get it up, it’d be more violent.
These girls were basically put to sleep.
Murdered, but peaceful, if you get what I mean.
Yeah, yeah, tied up, but the burns were post-mortem and done with something hot and smooth. Caroline says it was a curling iron. Whatever, that was to get rid of their fingerprints.
Keep us guessing.
Two were cut up, maybe afterwards; there’ll be blood somewhere. And the first one was strangled with who the f**k knows what, not hands, that’s for sure. Or a rope, unless it had a lot of knots in it; but it was the drugs that killed all three of them.
Or practicing for the big one.
Can’t tell yet."

Opening the first chapter of J'S GIRLS, where Danny speaks.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

"Imagine my surprise to get a call from a detective in New York after all these years. He was polite, apologized for the questions he was about to ask and waited while I found my cigarettes.
Fumbling with the matches, I wondered how fast I could pack.
He’d made all the connections I had been afraid of, but was already way beyond that. He asked about a woman named Kitty. And Cleo, if I knew if she’d had kids. If there’d been any odd phone calls, had I gotten anything strange in the mail?
There were some recent hang-ups, and that unsigned postcard with my name misspelled.
He wanted to know if I still had it; if he flew down to get it, would I be willing to meet with him.
When he suggested I find someplace else to stay, I laughed and asked about Paris. He laughed too, advising me to not leave the country.
He’s coming, tomorrow, first thing in the morning. How will I ever get to sleep?"

(Opening to Prologue in J'S GIRLS)

Monday, April 26, 2010

Pouring in New York again, and the heat in my apartment is blasting, so it was a good day to stay in my pajamas and write. Got all of the parts in the new chapter integrated and edited, think I'm happy with the outcome. Did have to go back into a couple earlier chapters and adjust their time frame to accommodate the changes in it.
Emailed it to the 3 people who read J'S GIRLS to see what they think. Does it work? It's been a couple months since I was immersed in that story, and as much as I loved those characters, I would like to move on to the current project again.
I decided to poke around and see if I could find out more on this cop in the Gacy photo. Found a shot that is definitely him, same clothes and sadly not so handsome, plus a news story with a few pictures that could be him and a group portrait of a bunch of dark haired cops with mustaches and big sideburns who were all on the case. Ah, The Look.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

My other reader Carla, the one who has read J'S GIRLS three times, has reported in on the Danny photo from the other day and she too recognized him without reading the caption first. I did not describe the character after seeing this image but vice versa, so it happens to be a rather intriguing development.
Still writing in Caroline's voice, she would say rather and does not use apostrophes to shorten her words. Ever so proper, Caroline; I think these posts have been influenced by her since I set out to create the new chapter for her.
And Kitty, who is Danny's girlfriend and as major a character as he or Caroline are in the first novel, crossed my path today. Or at least the original version, until I decided Kitty should be a little younger, late 40's, in the body of Patricia Clarkson, who is older than that but still one of my all time favorite actresses. Sometimes I love living here.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Finished editing the chapter I have been working on, but decided it needs to be a page or two longer. Have hand written and typed up a couple new pages that I have not even spell checked yet, my project for tomorrow. Then I get to integrate that in with the rest of it, but on my way back from the gym, after a half hour in the sauna, I had another idea for what might also need to be in it, so I may add that as well.
I mentioned earlier I am reading the new collection of Alice Munro's stories. I have to say, I am a little disappointed. Read four of the ten stories so far and have not care much for any of them. I even found one especially annoying, but since it won the Man Booker prize, I intend to finish it before returning it to the library.
I just realized I have written this in Caroline's voice, the character whose chapter I have been working on. I also found it amusing that two of the three people who read J's GIRLS recognized Danny from the photo I posted yesterday before reading the caption. I had the same reaction when I saw it, having created him months before. I actually did a Google search for Gacy's arrest, but alas, to no avail.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Better today, I was at the DA's office in the morning to finalize the victim impact statement and get contact information for the parole board meeting. Then I came home to work on editing the J'S GIRLS chapter. Printed it out, lots of scribbling, and about halfway done.

I have been wanting to post this image of the cops who arrested John Wayne Gacy, the sadistic serial killer who was known for dressing up as a clown as well as keeping the multiple bodies of his young male victims buried in his basement. Nasty business.

But enough about Gacy, the point of this picture, for me at least, and I would think you too, is the tall dark-haired cop with the sideburns and mustache. For those who have read or will read J'S GIRLS and the untitled novel I'm currently working on, this is Danny in the late 80's.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Okay day, still trying to be nice to myself. Spent most of it typing the chapter I should have written by hand a third time. The short cut will cost me since now it needs serious editing in the computer. I'll write it by hand again, then edit the typing later.
I also took a really long walk by the Hudson with my camera. Haven't been over there recently, need to avoid it when I'm upset, but it was great to be in the windy sunshine. And I shot some images to post on my Maureen Donegal blog.
I had an idea for a scene in the current book, going to let it percolate awhile but I think it will work into the story nicely. It is a bit strange going back and forth between the two novels, but once I finish with this chapter I typed today, J'S GIRLS will definitely be done. Besides, the new one has no ending yet, as it hinges on how this DA situation turns out this summer. Will our heroine, who would be me, speak to the parole board, does it work? Or will she have to leave Manhattan?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Spent the day finishing the second draft of the chapter I have been struggling with. Lots of taping and cutting up pages but I am happy with the results. May even skip the third hand written draft and go straight to the computer with it tomorrow.
Or maybe not, there is something about writing by hand that, for me, is more gratifying than typing. Perhaps it has to do with how putting pen to paper requires more concentration. I can hear it better, the rhythm of what I'm saying.
And what a relief, I forget how satisfying it is to write every morning. I have to get there before I check my email or craigslist, or I lose the momentum. This past week or so has been so stressful that the only writing I was getting done was happening here in blog world. Which helps, I'm almost as fussy about how it and how it looks and will edit a sentence if the margins don't line up nicely. Which you may notice if you open the blog while I'm in the act of creating it. I wonder, do you see the same screw driver and wrench icon I do at those times?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Took yesterday off, trust me, you would not want to read anything I wrote last night. Had one of those jump in the river kind of moments I'd just sooner forget. More fodder for the new novel when I feel like putting it on paper. Better today though, saw the DA counselor and had an interesting job interview.
But more importantly, I am hard at work on the chapter I have been struggling with for J'S GIRLS. Finally found the voice again and am now cutting and pasting, literally, lots of little snipped off pieces of paper around my sofa where I was going at it this morning, and I use invisible tape instead of glue; the notebook I'm rewriting it in is a big mess. That is my process. Write it once by hand. Then rewrite again by hand and if I like that version, cut it up and and tape it right on top of the first draft. Then once I'm done doing that, I write it out a third time by hand to be sure the continuity holds together.
Then I start to type. Usually there's a little revising as it goes into the computer, but I try to leave it intact. Once that's saved, I copy it and start the serious re-edit. If I'm happy with this, I change the format from a left side alignment in 12pt font to a full justification 10pt font so I know when I open it which version it is in case I forget to retitle the piece. Probably too much information, but I keep refining until nothing's left to change and I know it's time to stop. Like right now.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Another day of being kind to myself, slept late, did a bit of editing on the draft I started yesterday, laid in the sauna. The counselor at the DA's office gave me permission to take it easy since my body has been reacting to the stress of the last week and a half.
I'm still having trouble with this new chapter for the old book, which technically is still new since it hasn't been published yet, but I have already moved on. I can see that it will help clarify things, but Elvis has left the building. I like what it is she has to talk about, I just wish somebody else was saying it. But it needs to be her or not at all, so I just have to get back to it.
Perhaps I should put on something other than jeans and Uggs, listen to a little Mozart, or better yet, get out her last couple of chapters and read them again. Now there's a thought, I probably should have done that to begin with. I may even do it right now. I'm also happy to report I've started reading "Too Much Happiness" by Alice Munro which won the Man Booker prize last year. I haven't read any fiction lately, since I started seriously writing, for fear it would influence me. But I couldn't resist our dear Alice when I dropped by the library this week. So far so good, it's ten stories and I will report back when I'm done.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Willow has signed on as a follower too, I'm honored. I'm so happy I'm not just writing to the ether, it's good to know you all are out there to receive it. And because it's Saturday, I intend to be a little more gentle with today's post.
It's been six weeks since I sent out my first batch of queries about J'S GIRLS; thus far I've gotten several dozen rejections, but in general, they were pretty nice about it. In the meantime, three people read it and had very positive feedback, as well as some useful suggestions. I spent a few hours this morning writing the first draft of a chapter I'm going to add to it. Odd going back, finding that character's voice, I'm not sure I've got it right yet. I'll be fiddling with it for probably the rest of next week, but it will be worth it.
As I was drifting off last night, it occurred to me that perhaps I have been pitching the wrong story. Maybe I should look for an advance to work on the current one, given it is true, my part of it anyway, and still unfolding. I could mention J'S GIRLS since the cop is the same in both books, to show I am serious about the project, that I can follow it through. And considering the subject matter, which I have not gone into detail about here yet, the shock factor might grab the attention of somebody who has, so far, chosen to ignore me. Just an idea, an excellent one though, I have such good ones right before I fall asleep.

Friday, April 16, 2010

More new followers, from two of my favorite blogs, Cedar Flame and Gilbert Stuart, nice. One thing I forget to mention yesterday when I got sidetracked about what happened to me, is what it's like to be in the DA's neighborhood. Let's go back to that topic.
You would think, with all the metal detectors and cops milling about, it would be safe, but frankly, there are too many criminals around. The whole area is court related, not just the famous building with the dramatic steps you see on Law & Order, which is not the place where most of the trials happen. I've been called for jury duty many times, and I have never been in that building. I've also spent enough time down there now to be able to tell the bad guys from the undercover cops, who, while they dress like them, move with a sense of purpose the thugs don't have. After you see this, it's pretty obvious.
When I was at the DA's, and a man in the right ghetto get-up passed me on the stairs. He was coming up them two at a time and stepped slightly aside to let me by. A cop. Once I was outside, I saw a man in similar clothes check out my purse and he followed me until I stood next to a hot dog stand and turned to let him know I was aware of his presence. He gave me a nasty look and walked away, he was probably out on bail, and clearly up to no good. Predator and prey, I promise.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

I want to discuss what happened at the DA's office yesterday since I'm going back again tomorrow morning. The counselor, who is actually a therapist, is concerned about how much this episode of him being up for parole has upset me. Because, as I told her, the initial assault, as bad as it was, doesn't even compare to what followed.
There was the backlash from my neighbors, who had to blame me to feel safe; I must have done something to bring it on myself, or else it could happen to them too just as easily. Total strangers would come up on the street and demand to know what happened. And get nasty if I said it was none of their business. One man insisted I apologize to his wife when she asked why I hadn't screamed and I told her he'd put a gun to my head. Then she said that wasn't what she heard, like she knew more about it than I did. I believe I used the F word as I turned on my heel and walked away.
Things got worse, I was also hounded briefly by the press who were determined to get my story. It bothered me how little privacy I had and how powerless I felt. Even the cops had an agenda that had very little to do with what I needed. Part of that was to be heard, and be believed, part was to just be allowed to express my feelings. Which were mostly about my being angry; and by the way, I still am today.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Spent the morning at the DA's office again, this time in Victims and Witness services. Lots of people in and out while I was there, mostly women applying for orders of protection. This will make interesting fodder for the new novel when I'm ready to write about it, which is not going to be today.
I am still thinking about the female cop character I wrote about in yesterday's post, since I'm contemplating another chapter revolving around her in the first novel, J'S GIRLS. Sort of hard to go back and pick her up again since I don't think she'll be making an appearance in the new story. But I let her off the hook for some things she did and didn't do that caused a great deal chaos in the other characters lives, and perhaps I'll go back and beat her up a little.
She can handle it, she also deserves it, and it'll give the rest of the other characters a chance to forgive her properly. And I can put it in a scene I cut when I was editing because it was too short on its own and didn't fit anywhere else in those chapters I saved. As I told the counselor at the DA's office this morning, and mentioned here before, I love how writing gives me control over a tiny corner of the universe since I certainly have no control at the moment over my own life.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

There are a number of female characters in J'S GIRLS. Among these are the previously mentioned cop's long-time girlfriend and her circle who I will discuss later, but the one I found most challenging to write was his former partner who had been promoted and became his boss. In the first draft she spoke much like he does, but so did his girlfriend and it became clear as I read through it that at least one of them had to have a different voice. It made sense for the cop and his girlfriend to speak alike, even though she doesn't curse as much as he does and has deeper, more complicated thoughts. Her friends sound like her as well, they each have their own buzz words, but you can tell they are a tight knit group.
So, it was his boss and former partner, the outsider who's known him the longest, that got revised. She still looked the same, and remained tough as nails, but her back story changed dramatically. She even still had the same man as her husband, she just had a different upbringing and education. Lost the Cagney and Lacey accent for something more Upper East Side Wasp and self-satisfied.
I had go through the first draft and rewrite every thing that came out of her mouth. I was working my holiday gig at the Plaza Hotel during this time, I had plenty of contact with women to model her after. Not my favorite kind of people, I had to later write new scenes to soften her up. Make her more likable; she stayed antagonistic, but just not as much. Because life is like that, everyone has both black and white.

Monday, April 12, 2010

I spent a couple hours this afternoon with a friend who has read J'S GIRLS, the first novel, twice. Once for fun and then the second time with an editor's eye, she intended to hand over the copy but has now started to read it again. Guess she liked it. Used the term Film Noir, called the characters and episodes vivid. Wanted to know how much of the story was personal experience, and we talked at length about the male character I wrote about yesterday.
We also talked about the current book and the real life drama that is swirling around me regarding the man who's about to come up for parole. She met me soon after that original incident happened but I did not tell her about it at the time. We haven't seen each other in many years, we're part of the army of grownups who are finding long lost old friends on Facebook, so it came as a shock as I revealed the whole scary story today. It explained a lot, why I seemed so sad and was always crying.
Alex at Opla Plaza emailed me today saying he just finished reading the unedited version of J'S GIRLS as well. He got it in pieces before it was proofed, and was very patient with me through all my panic and changes. I'm feeling rather adult about it at the moment, but I do see the need to add one more chapter to clarify the resolution. I can add it to the project of getting permission to use the series of song lyrics that are essential to an important scene. Suggestions, anybody?

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Ah, Tattered and Lost has joined us, love that site. There's something so friendly about blogging and commenting, putting thoughts out into the ether, I like it. Maybe it's because I'm in New York where the noise and the crowds make random communication and neighborly behavior impossible. There's no barking dog here, or slowpoke chattering on a cell, or some kamikaze taxi trying to run me over.
It has occurred to me that the main male character in the novels I'm writing, the man of my dreams that I mentioned yesterday, bears a strong resemblance to something I wrote over 20 years ago that was so bad it still embarrasses me today. The male lead character was of Irish descent back then, before I'd been burned by the last, I swear, of my big blond boyfriends, and a cop with a tendency to get overly emotional. The one I'm writing about now is Italian, much better, but still a cop who's high strung and curses like a sailor.
Funny, I don't know any cops personally, a couple firemen yes, but that's a whole other breed. So what is it with cops? If I turned on a television right now, I'm sure I'd be able to find any number of them traipsing across the screen. Who's your favorite? I'm going with Vince D'Onfrio's Bobby Goren on Law and Order CI, although Al Pacino has been pretty hot as a cop in Heat, Sea of Love and Serpico. But this character isn't either one of them, the closest I've seen was when I watched The Usual Suspects again a couple of weeks ago and Chazz Palminteri blew my mind. Not perfect and too old now, but definitely a hothead and Italian. Oh, and very cute in a suit. I mean, really.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Two more followers, welcome Emma and Maria. Perhaps today I will lighten up after my tirade yesterday. It is Saturday and beautiful out, I spent the morning working on the new book and have the bunch of Mad Men on DVD to watch after dinner. If I stay in the moment, life is good.
I think what I like about writing fiction most is the control I have over the universe I'm creating. I get to decide who does what when, and whether there will a happy ending. I like those, especially for people who have suffered through difficult times. I also get to know the man of my dreams. And to conjure up an ideal woman for him, who needs to be much younger than me since he is too, but can be is as neurotic and temperamental as I am.
Hey, a girl can dream, can't she? And I promise, these characters are perfect for each other, you'll see. If I ever get the book published for you to read it. Fingers crossed? Here's hoping for the happy outcome.

Friday, April 9, 2010

My intention was to start at the beginning of my process as a writer, but I'm in the middle of the first draft of the second book which has opened up an unsettling Pandora's box of personal history. Without getting too deep into the details at this point, 26 years ago I was the victim in a felony assault that caused a great deal of grief and chaos in my life that still affects who I am today. It is this incident and the aftermath that I'm currently writing about; there is a character based on myself, and the fictional cop who's a lead character of the novel I recently finished. It had been an easy transition from fact to fiction until I began researching my assailant's status for the story and found out he will be up for parole in July.
This person is a menace to society in general and to me in particular, since my name and address are in the court documents which he has access to as the defendant. I spent Tuesday afternoon on the phone with various members of the legal system, including the warden at the maximum security prison he is currently incarcerated in. I have a number of options; I can register to be notified if he is released, or I can submit a victim's impact statement to the parole board and even speak to their commissioner before they meet.
On Wednesday, I was in the DA's office speaking to a counselor. I feel compelled to do what I can to help keep this man in jail. I spent most of yesterday on my victim's impact statement, but it's interesting that before I could start writing it, I needed to set up this new blog. And by the way, my favorite option, suggested by this DA counselor, is to consider relocating. Finally, a justifiable reason to move to Cape Cod.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Ah, two followers already, thank you Patricia and Alex. I've known both of them for 40 plus years now, which I find amazing. Haven't seen either one of them in at least 35, but through the magic of the internet, we are friends again. It was, in fact, Patricia who suggested I blog in the first place because I was trying to do it on Facebook. Now it is fundamental to my creative process, and an important part of my day. After I check my emails in the morning, I read all the blogs I follow and then look to see if anyone has commented on my post from the previous evening. Silly how it feels like we're connected when most of us are strangers who would not realize it if we passed each other in the street.
But I also like posting, in the case of my other blogs, picking out an image and commenting on it. I especially enjoyed the extended portfolios of photos I've taken outside of Manhattan, on my trips to Cape Cod and Martha's Vineyard, the month of posts of Beacon, which is upstate. It almost, almost, doesn't matter if anyone reads them, which is good since I don't have an army of followers. Great practice for my novel writing, as Alex pointed out when I was feeling sorry for myself because I was having so much trouble getting people to read the one I recently finished, we make art because we need to, not to please our audience.
Or as my friend Jenia says when one of my characters wake me up in the morning, the story simply has to be told.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Last summer, when TV went digital, I stopped watching. Soon I was entertaining myself with little stories in my head. One in particular had a character who began to demand my attention. I would wake up in the morning thinking about him. After a week or two of this, I confessed my fantasy to a friend who suggested I started writing it down and see where it went. It turned into a short story that I could not let go of. And then, perhaps a month later, the day after I signed papers to cash a small 401K, I lost my job. I continued to fiddle with the story. The plot grew, more characters popped up. Eventually I surrendered, clearly I was writing a novel.
My background is painting, I'm good but not financially successful. I have experimented with memoirs but never took it seriously. I started my other two blogs a little over a year ago and enjoyed commenting on the art and photographs I was posting. But this project, the novel, was different. It took me over, my characters ran my life, and in the end, I was thrilled with the final product.
My intention with this blog is to chronicle the process. Who and what the characters mean to me, what the story is about. The situation I'm in now trying to get it read and published. The sequel, because there is a sequel already in the works, and how it evolved from the first book. I want to keep it separate from the photos, although they will, no doubt, be making appearances here as well. New York, especially Soho and Chelsea, are characters too.