Good Review, Kick-Ass NaNoWriMo First Day… Who Says Mercury’s in Retrograde?

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BLISS by Hilary Fields…Probably a poor idea to tempt the fates in such a way, but heck, I’ve had too much Diet Coke, I’m hopped up on a successful first day of doing NaNoWriMo, and a great rave review of BLISS from Woman’s Day Magazine online. (You can watch the video here.)

I’ve wanted to participate in National Novel Writing Month for several years, but a combination of factors prevented me.  1) I’m chicken-shit, 2) I’m not convinced “vomit-writing” is really a great way to write a viable novel, and 3) I usually spend the last week of November in a turkey/stuffing/yam/pie coma.  But this year I’m on el seriouso deadline.  BOOK 2 must make its debut (at least to my editor) in spring, and that’s no joke.  It’s going great, but a kamikaze balls-out dive into the deep end of my creative juices would certainly only aid my efforts. So I told enough people I was gonna do it that I’d feel like a chump if I backed out.  (Works great for quitting smoking too.)

It was exciting to make this commitment, though daunting, because I usually write closer to 1,000 words on a good day than the 1,667 one needs to average for the thirty days of November in order to “win.”  I don’t think I’m in it to win it, frankly. I’d rather have 30,000 carefully chosen words than 50,000 blurted-out stream-of-consciousness rambles I have to spend the next month sorting out.  But I hoped signing up would spur me to write something every single day.  So last night at midnight I joined my local chapter liaison at Denny’s, laptop in tow (and dressed like Spock because it was, after all, Halloween).  Seven hundred fifty one words and five mozzarella sticks later, I looked up and it was 1:30 in the morning.  Even most of the drunks in Miley Cyrus twerk costumes had headed home for the night.

After collapsing back in bed around 2, reading a bit of Stephen King’s DOCTOR SLEEP (in my opinion one of his good ones), and passing out to endure some very odd llama-and-psychic-vampire dreams, I arose a few hours later feeling like it was going to be a good day.  I added another 1,100 words to my count during the course of the day (and was surprised by a llama named Severus Snape playing Frisbee with Merry’s cowboy hat), all while baking a loaf of sourdough (pictured) and standing at my standing desk instead of sitting around.

Sourdough Bread So I guess success breeds success.  The more you do the more you’re capable of doing, and yadda yadda.  Speaking of success, it’s really been awesome to see the first reviews of BLISS trickle in.  I wish I weren’t too much of a moron to figure out how to post the video review from Woman’s Day, but a link will have to suffice.  It’s just amazing when someone reads your stuff and laughs out loud, relishes the characters, looks forward to your next work.

I can hardly believe the release date for BLISS is only 18 days away. I got my finished copies this week and I think they’re stunning (even if the picture of me in the inside front flap seems monstrously big).  It’s amazing to me that some readers–strangers, out there in the ether–have already gotten hold of copies, and others will soon.  Lots of others, I hope.  All of whom will of course want to plaster five-star reviews far and wide across the web.  Hey, a girl can dream, right?  So here’s to big dreams, and the ambition–and stamina–to bring them to fruition.


Two Months and Counting…

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I just looked at the calendar and nearly snarfed up my coffee.  Holy time-skedaddling, Batman!  I’ve got a mere two months and eleven days (but who’s counting) until BLISS hits the stands. My fear is that it will do so with a distinct thud, but I know I should have more faith than that – in the efforts of my publisher, if not on the fates of fickle fame (or the enemies of alliteration).  I have so many hopes for my baby BLISS. Three years in the making, it’s crafted from countless nights of worry, nearly as many days of joyful coffee house writing sessions, and quite a few teeth-gnashing, self-doubting long, dark, teatimes of the soul (thanks, Douglas Adams).

Yet now it’s time to leave BLISS behind and focus on my new novel, with 99% more fuzzy animals, a towering, redheaded heroine, a grumpy hero and… a poltergeist. To say more would be giving things away without hope of royalties, but I will say that Merry is an adventurer with a lot to learn about the true nature of adventure, and there’ll be a lotta llama beans (you read that right), potential hot springs shenanigans, and a guy who knows how to make fire.

As I progress with this as-yet-unnamed but strikingly foof-filled book, I’m faced with the big questions about what makes for a satisfying novel – in my genre, anyway. I know what I want: each chapter to tickle me, charm me, or alarm me; a setting that isn’t done to death; and the chance to root for someone to accomplish or overcome things I myself would want to.  So how to accomplish this?

As a writer, I’m sure I’m not alone in puzzling over technical issues. Most of them have to do with the trick of being invisible while you orchestrate the whole damn circus — fleas, Flying Wolendas, and all.

“How do I cram this backstory into the narrative without actually being seen to do so?”

“Will this flashback completely confuse, derail, or utterly bore my readers?”

“Is Dolly’s accent authentic, and… wait, where the heck does she actually come from?”

Sometimes I forget this ain’t my first metaphorical rodeo. I’ve stared down these challenges before, and whipped, cajoled, and wept them into submission.  And I forget that it’s fun doing so. The worst day of writing is better than the best day in somebody else’s cubicle, and, until I’m offered a job sponge-bathing Benedict Cumberbatch or taste-testing world class pain au chocolat, it ain’t likely to get any better than this.

So I’ll remember my gratitude, and get to work.