This site is the result of an ongoing experiment in epistolary fiction writing. A few years ago, I got the idea of writing a novel in email (xo bri xoxo me xoxoxo love you christy
), written in real time using messages sent back and forth between email accounts that I created in my characters' names.
The "novel" was completed, but the experiment continues. I like my characters, and want to continue to delve into them and work with them. More than that, though, I like the epistolary format. Letters (particularly email) raise a lot of questions that I suppose I'm trying to answer by writing these messages. What gets said? What gets excluded? How are stories and events communicated (or not communicated) between characters?
And are the messages stories... or can they add up, in aggregate, to a story?
That's what I'm trying to get at here.
Every one of these messages serves as both a FUN exercise in writing and an exploration of the epistolary form. I want to keep writing these messages and see what happens, what I come up with. As I write them, I find myself learning more and more about the characters and their nuances, and of course this in turn informs and enriches my OTHER writing.
I've given up on the notion of trying to make the messages on this page add up to coherent storylines. Somehow I feel like that's not the point. I'm not sure what the point IS, but I feel like the muse is leading me... so I follow...
Hope you enjoy it.
Please read the following...IMPORTANT NAVIGATION TIPS:
It never made any sense to me, but on this site, new posts appear at the TOP of the index page...meaning that if you want to read the posts in chronological order, you need to read them from the bottom of the page UP.
An easier way, though, is to click on the links in the UPDATES section (always immediately below this top post). Those links will open the first message of the given thread in a new window; you can then navigate the threads by clicking on the FORWARD-BACK-HOME links at the end of each message. I will also link between threads.
Let me know what you think, and thanks for reading! --MaxUPDATES:
February 4, 2009 A follow-up email which continues the thread below. Christy writes back to Margo about Marty and meds: click here for the followup, and see immediately below (February 1) for the first two messages in the thread if you missed them.
February 1, 2009 Super Bowl Sunday. Christy is up, thinking about Super Bowl parties and sinusitis and Facebook... and so she writes Margo, and Margo writes back. Click here for Good morning, I guess.
(As always, see the characters' Facebook pages for related content... and see the previous update below if you have no idea what I mean by that. --m)
January 11, 2009
It's been over three months since I really wrote any new character emails. I haven't been IDLE, mind you; I've done a lot of stuff with the characters' FACEBOOK pages... fitting, because Facebook is a somewhat shallow tool. I've felt, the last few months, like I needed to be shallow for a little bit, step back from the characters, not go too deep. Take a breath.
(Inhale. Exhale. There. That's better. Now, as you see, I write.)
Anyway... I've written this before, but if you haven't done so yet, ADD MY CHARACTERS AS FRIENDS ON FACEBOOK. I'm not saying there's a great deal of CONTENT there, but there are some things on those pages that will be alluded to in the character emails (and vice versa), and if you don't wanna be totally lost, you need to check those pages out. Plus, it's kind of fun, I think, to see status updates for the characters pop up on your HOME page.
Which now brings me to... new character emails. Three, count 'em, three... all of them really inspired by the last four months of HELL I've been through, and the way that I've dealt with it (although, really, that doesn't come out DIRECTLY). Brian, the most un-tech-geeky of all my characters (except maybe their parents) starts the ball and this new thread rolling with this message: Internet.October 1, 2008
Some things never change. Penn State Football on the tube at Brian's parents' house is one of them. Margo asks Christy Did you hear that?August 28, 2008
This is the first time I've posted an update consisting entirely of Facebook status updates. A continuation of the previous emails and chat. Some new emails will be coming soon; in the meantime, start out by checking Maura's Status
.August 17, 2008
As I wrote below, "Maura" has gotten four friend requests on Facebook (actually five; one of them has been withdrawn) from total strangers. Everyone keeps telling me to CONFIRM the requests and see what happens. Somehow that seems too strange a commingling of fiction and reality. However, since I have to do SOMETHING with those friend requests... the thread continues... click here
. More to follow as I write it...August 16, 2008
A couple more emails to continue the thread started on August 13 and continued the 14th. This is also the first time, really, that I've used a Facebook status update in this blog. The first message here is a screenshot of Maura's facebook page. (Click on the reduced-size screenshot to enlarge it and read the page; click your browser's BACK button to return to the page. FORWARD and BACK navigation links between emails appear under the mini-screenshot)
Maura's status update is the first new message: Maura Ann Kelly is...August 14, 2008:
Continuing the thread started on August 13th with two new messages: Christy's reply to Maura
and Rae's reply to Brian
.August 13, 2008:
Lots happening. First of all, I've created FACEBOOK accounts for my characters. If you want to keep up on their virtual fictitious goings-on, friend them! I created a Facebook group called Friends of Brian, Margo and Christy
; the easiest way to find them is to click on that group
. The Officers
list on the right hand side of the page lists all of the characters with pages. You can either FRIEND me to access their pages, or FRIEND one or ALL of the characters to not only access their pages, but to get their "status" updates on your feed-homepage.
I have to mention this: I really debated whether or not to give the characters profile pictures or even avatars, but with Rita and Maura and Rae, I found, online, what I thought were suitable public domain pictures that seemed to be in character with what I'd written. Rita is the only character whose face you see; Rae's is (fittingly) blocked; and Maura... Maura, I thought, should have something a little daring and artsy... something in keeping with her established identity (on this blog) as a photographer and model.
I also started registering Maura and the other characters on Facebook groups and fan sites, just to give their pages a little more flavor... and of course, when you post on a page, your profile picture accompanies your post.
Well, apparently I chose the RIGHT PICTURE for Maura.
"She" has gotten FOUR FRIEND REQUESTS so far, from people who clearly are not interested in reading my work, but who apparently think she is an ACTUAL PERSON. Probably more than an "actual person," but an artsy, bohemian, freewheeling actual FEMALE who just might... you know... be interested in...
Which Maura unequivocally would NOT be, as they would see if they read her profile. "IN A RELATIONSHIP" should tell them all they need to know; repeated references to "Todd" in her status updates might also be considered tip-offs.
Still, I apparently have created an enticing character, if the message that accompanied the friend request from one Mr. Brenno Thegreat, in Melbourne, Australia, is any indication:Hi i like your back, wanna chat.
All of this AFTER I posted comments on Maura's page from Christy, Rita and Margo about her picture... AND after I posted a message on Margo's wall, from Rae, saying "yr niece has beautifully defined latissimus dorsi and gluteus medius muscles lol."
I don't know what to do about this. I don't think I'm going to friend them just yet. Part of me feels like what I need to do is tell them "Look, Maura's a fictional character... you aren't going to get more pics, or chat with her, or hook up with her, or have an online fling with her, or..."
But for now, I'll let it pass. It might be interesting to see how many more guys try to friend her.
Meanwhile, I've written a bunch of new character emails and rather than try to make coherent threads out of them, I've just posted them here in the order I wrote them. Start with this one from Maura to Rita: Monday night at Todd's, so peaceful.July 30, 2008
This is a different twist on my character communiques (although it's one I used in the online novel): I created instant message accounts for Christy and Margo, and, with two IM windows opened onscreen, did a "chat" between them in real time. It's been a few years since I did this, and the first one I tried wasn't entirely successful (I posted it on my Deviantart page
). This one, though, works a little better, so I'm posting it here. As I explained in the header of the Deviantart entry, the timestamps are real (this was written in real time); however, unlike that piece, I revised this one a little before I posted it.
I like this format because instead of the characters writing (essentially) letters, they're having a dialogue.
As with their emails, though, Christy and Margo don't use a lot of abbreviations-etc. Neither of them has (read: I HAVEN'T) bothered to learn shortcuts-abbreviations-acronyms-etc. The only ones here, really, are BRB and LOL and LMAO (or, in Fran's case, the transposed LMOA, which is an inside joke to her).
So: Christy is at home in Pleasant Gap, PA; Margo is on vacation at her parents' lakeside cottage in Ontario, with Brian and Becca; they're up in the morning, having coffee, and since cellphone roaming charges/international calls=$$$$$, they decide to communicate via Instant message
As I discovered earlier in the winter, sometimes I can't open my mouth and complain directly about certain things, but there's always my characters. Hence this new thread, two messages: Maura hurls Six F-Bombs at Rita, and Rita hurls a couple right back in her reply. Click here to read the first message.
July 9, 2008
Christy and Marty and Maggie visit Maura in Vermont. First message here: Hi from Vermont
.June 18-19, 2008
Sitting here, checking my email, eating Dulce le Leche... and I get an email from the Orioles, announcing that tomorrow night at the Yard is Nick Markakis bobblehead night. And since, in my fictional world, Rita has returned to the Warehouse to work in the Orioles' ticket and marketing office part time starting this week past, why not write an email? Thus my sitting at the computer not having a life, reading junk email and eating ice cream, becomes a new thread: Rita to Margo and Maura, telling them how Senorita gets busted by the intern and then gets the intern BUSTED!!!!
with a followup from Margo
.June 3-4, 2008:
It's been a long time since I introduced a new character's voice into the email storyline. But... with my novel You Don't Think She Is
on its way out the door to agents (Bon voyage, o book!), I have picked up a project that I started in January 2007 and abandoned last fall: Rae
, a novel featuring Brian, Margo, Christy, Marty, Becca and Maggie c. 2007. I'm about a third of the way through it, maybe... but yesterday I decided that, in order to get a better idea of what makes the character Rae tick, I'd get her hooked up with a Yahoo account and bring her into the loop.
So... without further ado, meet the title character of my novel-in-progress: Carmen McRae "Rae" Sanchez, 24-year-old former music student of Brian's at Gettysburg. Her first email, to her former prof, is Ted Kennedy surgery a success
May 27, 2008:
I'm in the process of posting a bunch of new emails, but here's a sample one... and instead of posting the FIRST in the thread, this one is the NEWEST: Maura to Rita. In the emails that precede this one, you'll find out who is Sorry and why. Click here...March 30-April 6, 2008: First of all, heartfelt thanks, Danita and Jane, for your Facebook "Superlatives" nomination (Most likely to fall in love with a fictional character). These are all the more touching because they were submitted independent of each other.
I appreciate it. Honest, I do.
Now... in the month and a half since I posted the messages in the last thread, I have written (just counted) one hundred-eight (108) character emails. There are getting to be too many messages to post here. I need to find another way to do this, for a lot of different reasons. The physical setup of a blog (oldest messages at the bottom of a single page) is simply not conducive to what I'm doing. I'm going to start looking for a new website or venue to host these things. In the meantime... of those 108 emails, I'm going to post a thread featuring a few recent messages that will give you a hint of what's been going on in my characters' lives the last seven weeks.
The start of this new thread: Margo and Brian return from a visit to see Maura in Vermont, and Maura returns the favor with a trip back to Pennsylvania. There are some things referenced in these posts that happened in previous messages a couple years ago, most notably Maura's "night on the town" in the pickup truck, which I've linked to... uh... in the previous phrase, as well as at the top of one of the messages.
The first batch of messages in this thread was posted on March 30, and I posted followups on April 1 and 6.
So... the first message of this thread is She's here!
February 13, 2008: Two messages from Maura, about 15 minutes apart... one to her mom, one to her best friend. Start with Mommmmmmmmmmm!!!!!!
February 4, 2008:
Started writing emails this morning with a message from Maura to Rita, and ended up with this mini-thread. Some stuff is alluded to here that happened in the big chunk of emails from December and January that I still haven't finished formatting and posting here. I hope it still makes sense though: Take a look at these
.January 28-February 2, 2008:
Yeah, I have a big batch of new emails. Yeah, I've been writing and gathering them since before Thanksgiving. Yeah, I'm formatting them for this website, and yeah, it's a little time-consuming. But sometimes things take time because you're not really into them, as you realize when you write something you really connect with.
Like this morning. I logged into "Christy's" email account and found yet another spam to "her" about the Irish Lottery. I always wonder if these people would feel stupid at all if they knew they were trying to bamboozle a fictional character. (Every now and then I reply in my characters' voices, but I seldom get a response.)
Anyway, that spam to Christy starts this new thread: Batch: 074/05/ZY369
, which I started on the 28th.January 8, 2008:
Stay tuned. Big batch of new emails coming soon. I've been writing and gathering them since before Thanksgiving
. Formatting them for this website is a little time-consuming but I'm working on it, and hope to be done by week's end. (January 24: Formatting them for this website is EXTREMELY time-consuming; it's taking a lot longer than I'd anticipated... plus I'm writing new ones. So, like I said, stay tuned.)November 22, 2007: Happy Friggin' Thanksgiving!October 31, 2007:
Life (real, mine) has settled down somewhat since I moved to Stowe, so life (virtual, characters) can continue online... this is the first new post here in over a month: Christy sends Margo online greetings for a Happy Halloween!!
September 23, 2007:
I finally wrote a follow-up from Christy to Brian's e-mail Texting
(see August 20 update). This email is not just a message for this blog; it's also in essence a novel excerpt: as soon as I wrote it, I plugged it into a chapter of the novel I'm working on, Rae
. So here's Christy's response to Brian's Texting,
imaginatively entitled... uh... Re: Texting.September 8, 2007:
The phone rings at Chez Pressley, and Becca has a boyyyyyyyyfriennnnnnnnnnd!!!!August 23, 2007:
One of the first times I've ever posted something on this site that isn't a character email, although it is an email of sorts. I was weeding through some emails in my account at my (soon-to-be-former) job, and came across this rather concise capsulization of the three main characters' traits: About the characters
.August 20, 2007:
As so often happens, now these messages are becoming THREADS. I've tried to tie them together.
First, Brian obliquely responds to Margo's email below (August 13) with one of his own, to Christy: Texting
. That message links to the first of two follow-ups to Rita's "So who's the baby??"... or you can start by reading Brian's reply to Rita here
.August 15, 2007:
New mama Rita has a song stuck in her head: So who's the baby??August 13, 2007:
Margo to Christy: "I'm gonna get him one whether he likes it or not:" MondayAugust 9, 2007:
Rita's baby! IT'S A... I'M A...August 7, 2007:
"You don't always solve problems by talking about problems..." Three emails between Christy and Margo, about job offers, Maggie's three-year-old fits, and peanut butter toast, starting with: Job
.July 25, 2007:
Rita's brush with greatness at the B&O Warehouse. Two messages: Rita's email to Margo, and Margo's reply. The thread starts with... Be jealous!!!!March 11, 2007
: First new content in a while... two threads that sort of lean on each other: first Christy and Margo's Happy Sunday Woman!
and then Margo and Brian's The Exam
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