Final Countdown

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It’s four days until the official drop date for BLISS. “Doesn’t seem real” barely covers the surreal sensation this knowledge engenders in me. Partly it’s because there’s no red-carpet premiere, no box office numbers to tally when a book comes out. Most authors I know just spend the day obsessively checking their sales rank on, and surely I won’t be able to resist either.  I’ll bombard the Twitterverse with tweets, and annoy the crap out of my Facebook followers reminding them of the big event.  (Apologies in advance!) But otherwise, what marks such a momentous day for a writer? I suspect… not much. I’ll probably wear my cute new shoes, despite Santa Fe being a ridiculous place to wear high heels.  And some dear friends will join me for a celebratory meal.  Aside from that? I can only imagine what’s going on out there, beyond my control.

Are little elves stocking my novel on Barnes & Noble shelves?  Will some avid lover of women’s fiction be browsing a store in South Dakota and come stumbling across a new book with a pretty white cover?  Will she creep closer, daring to pick up the nice, weighty paperback, feel the pleasant tactile sensation of the jacket against her fingers?  Will she turn it over, and snort a small chuckle as she reads the tagline “Nothing says ‘oops’ like your naked ass skidding in the salmon mousse?”  Or perhaps wrinkle her nose and say, “No mousse-y ass for me, thanks!”  Might some store clerk in an indie bookstore happen to flip through it during breaks in the back room (ha, back room!) and decide, “Hey, I dig this, I’m going to put it on the ‘recommended reads’ table?”

I’ve no earthly idea.  And no control at this point. I crafted BLISS as if it were the most important confection of my career, adding all my favorite fantasies and wish fulfillment into the mix. I can only hope it tastes as sweet to the reader as it did to the writer.

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.

What to Expect When You’re Expecting…

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I was just thinking… I haven’t really gotten a chance to share what it was like to find a publisher for BLISS–what, in fact, the whole process of writing it and shopping it around was like.

Short answer?  Like birthing 65 bowling balls without an epidural (or an explanation for why I would be pregnant with bowling balls).

But let me back up.

I’ve known I wanted to write novels since I was able to read novels.  And I’ve never had a desire to do anything else, at least professionally. (I delight in being a dilettante with baking and crocheting.)  When I was very young, right out of college I had the almost-too-easy experience of selling my first novel, a historical romance, to a major publisher without an agent and without shopping it around.  That’s a story for another day, but I will say that it gave me a skewed-as-hell idea of what it was like to get published, how rare and difficult it is.  Later, I worked in the industry as an agent’s assistant and saw firsthand how tough it really is–even for great writers, which I was not.

A few years and a few life left turns later, I… Continue Reading »