What Comes Next

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I’m thinking about my next book.

I have two really good ideas, very different from one another, and for months now I’ve been holding them up to the light, examining their facets like a jeweler planning how to cut a diamond. I see many approaches, but so far none has shimmered out to me, telling me it’s the perfect way to tell the story. And I don’t want to commit to another hundred thousand words unless my heart is in it, unless I’m 100% on-board and enthusiastic.

One story is wacky, kinda out-there but timely, rife with secondary character opportunities, which is something I love. Some of the research for it feels daunting, however, and I’ve hesitated because I haven’t felt completely sure I’m the right person to tell this particular tale.

The other is the sort of thing everyone can relate to, but I’m struggling to find the best angle to make it fresh and funny, and to decide where my heroine is in her journey at the outset. I don’t remember it ever being this hard to get going on a novel, but I think it’s probably a bit like childbirth–if we remembered how painful it was, we’d never do it again, so our writer-memories protect us by fuzzing the whole process out a little bit.

Nonetheless, here I am, with this big blank slate, knowing my tropes and wanting to confound them; knowing my genre and wanting to out-shine it. And terrified to put my fingers to the keys.

I want to write a story with heart. I want to care deeply about my new protagonist, what she goes through and how she triumphs (yeah, there’ll be a happy ending, that much I know). I don’t want to write something dopey or predictable, and without inspiration it’s all too easy to drift in that direction. Yet I have some ideas that may make for a heroine who’s less sympathetic than the norm, and I wonder if I dare explore them, or if my genre won’t allow for a woman that flawed, one who makes decisions that are morally questionable.

It’s a bit of a crisis moment for me. Writing is a business, and especially so for genre fiction, but it’s also a huge emotional and personal commitment, a creative commitment. I don’t want to ever phone anything in, or deliver less than my best. Yet I need to get to work, and that means making decisions about the nature of this next project.

Fellow writers, what do you do when you’re at this stage?

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A Very Special–And Rather Shocking–Shout-Out

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When the dean of your school–a woman so erudite she pens tomes on Homer just for fun–writes you a fan letter, you may be excused for feeling a wee bit giddy.

I kvelled. I plotzed. I had myself a verklempt moment or two.

You gotta understand: this is a woman so venerable she can quote Kant, Hegel, and Aristotle at will, in their original languages, and probably has the ghost of Kierkegaard on speed dial. And she took the time to read my little book, and write me a hand-written note (in fountain pen, with the final t’s left uncrossed, just like my mom used to do), praising my novel. She loves it. She’s rooting for Merry and the other characters. She thinks it’s goodhearted (but not sappy) and that the writing is wonderful.

Wow.

See, St. John’s College isn’t exactly known as the alma mater of romance novelists, and I’ve always felt a little embarrassed taking my classics degree and writing about fluffy animals and hunky heroes… but today I’m standing proud. Like, really proud.

So glad I went to Homecoming this year. So honored to do what I do.

Guest Post on B&N Reads, the Barnes And Noble Blog!

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Hey Fans,

I’m delighted to announce that Barnes and Noble gave me a wonderful opportunity to guest-post on their official blog, B&N Reads. Here’s what they had to say about LAST CHANCE LLAMA RANCH and my little essay.

Hilary Fields’ rollicking new novel, Last Chance Llama Ranch, is the story of Merry Manning, an Olympic hopeful who is forced to completely change careers after a life-altering accident. Told with a fresh and shockingly funny voice, it is filled with endearing characters and set in a very unusual locale. Fields, no stranger to enormous life changes herself, shares her story of a writing career filled with stops and starts, triumphs, and hard lessons.”

The topic is Writing, Resilience, and Reinvention, and you can check out the full post here.

Last Chance Llama Ranch Lovers!

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Man, I’ve got some kick-ass friends. I’m getting pics of people proudly holding up their copies from all quarters, and (with their permission), I’d like to share a few.

I’m also pretty psyched to announce I’ll be signing copies of LAST CHANCE LLAMA RANCH at St. John’s College, my alma mater, in Annapolis during Homecoming Weekend Saturday Sept. 26th from 3:30 – 5:30pm, where I hope to see lots more friendly faces!

Bernard with LCLR Diane with LCLR Lydia with LCLR

How’m I Doing? No Effing Idea!

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One of the things non-writers often don’t get about being a writer is that, for most of us, there’s no big book tour. Publisher’s Clearinghouse doesn’t show up on your porch with balloons and a brass band on pub day. Unless you throw one yourself, there’s probably not going to be a launch party, if you’re a little, starting-out author like me. Friends ask, “OMG, how was the big day?!” and I want so badly to meet their expectations and tell them there was hullabaloo, the angels sang, and Stephen King blurbed my book.

Instead, I went to my local Barnes and Noble and hunted around until I found my novel in the stacks, beamed and did a modest little dance, signed all five copies and waved farewell to the indulgent counter clerk who probably sees writers like me several times a week.

I went home and refreshed my Amazon sales rank eleventy trillion times. It didn’t tell me much. I tweeted (which I suck at). I beat my Facebook friends and page subscribers over the head ad nauseum with the news that, hey, LAST CHANCE LLAMA RANCH is available! I beamed in delight when friends who’d ordered copies in advance posted pics of themselves with the book. (See below!)  And I had a very pleasant dinner with a friend at the South Street Seaport before heading to bed.

So, how is LCLR selling? I won’t hear any news for probably a week or two. All I can do is hope it’s charming the heck out of folks who come across it in stores, and that I’ll be lucky enough to garner some positive reviews on Goodreads, Amazon, and beyond. Any way you slice it, I’m lucky to do what I do. But there are times I think I’d rather be an actor, so at the end of a “performance” I’d be able to look out over my audience and see how they enjoyed my efforts.

Applause? Crickets chirping? In any case, it’s on to the next project for me as I hope this one lands gently in your hearts. Thanks for your support, friends!

Leanna with LCLR

Eyeing it with dubious delight

Quinn with LCLR

Now that’s how you show it off!

G with LCLR

The littlest of fans

A very serious reader in Santa Fe

A very serious reader in Santa Fe

At LLast, the Llama Llaunch! LAST CHANCE LLAMA RANCH Is In Stores Today!

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My friends, I’m so excited to say TODAY is the DAY! LAST CHANCE LLAMA RANCH is finally on shelves, and I so appreciate your support during this process. If I could ask just a little more, here are a couple things you might do to help if you’re willing:

1) if you’ve already read an advanced copy, please consider posting a five-star review on Amazon and/or Goodreads, BarnesandNoble.com, etc. This is incredibly helpful and can make or break an author.
2) if you pre-ordered LAST CHANCE LLAMA RANCH and your copy arrives in the next couple days, please consider taking a picture of yourself with it. You can email it to hfieldsauthor@gmail.com if you want to be featured on my site!
3) If you’d like to order LCLR online, it’s available on Amazon at this link: http://www.amazon.com/Chance-Llama-Ranch-Hila…/…/0316277428/ or on Barnes and Noble at http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/last-chance-llam…/1120878222
4) If you’d like to buy it but hate Amazon, etc, try Indiebound by clicking here: http://www.indiebound.org/book/9780316277426 to find your nearest bookseller.
5) If you’d like to buy a copy in person but it’s not available locally, you can always ask your local shop if they’ll order one for you. It usually can be there within a couple days!
6) if you’d be willing to tell your friends about my book, I’d be so grateful.

Blow jobs, cookies, massages, babysitting services… I owe you all big time!

Alpaca2

When Research Kills… With Cuteness!

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Many thanks to RT Book Reviews for posting about my time researching LAST CHANCE LLAMA RANCH, which drops August 25th. It was indeed a ridiculous amount of fun to write a book about sweet fluffy creatures, and I’ve never had more fun researching a story in my life.

Read the piece at RT Book Reviews here!

Three little alpacas are we...

Three little alpacas are we…

Llama, Llama, On the Web… Who’s the Cutest? Vote To Win!

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My latest novel LAST CHANCE LLAMA RANCH comes out on August 25th! I’m so excited for you to meet Merry Manning and all the fluffy faces living on the ranch. To celebrate the release of the new book, I’m hosting a contest!  Vote for the the cutest llama via ViralSweep and you will be entered for the chance to win these extra-special prizes including a signed copy of my book, coffee mug, and a hand-crocheted llama of your very own. (And yeah, I’m making it myself!)

Llama_Twitter_promo2

Click here to enter the contest and pick the cutest llama!

After you’ve entered, you’ll be given the opportunity to earn bonus entries by sharing the contest on your social networks. Good luck!