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Where in the hell did a year go?

Tonight, for the first time since Nov. 17, 2009, I made fresh progress on a new novel. Eight hundred and fifty-nine words’ worth, if you must know, and that’s a pretty good single-session output for me. I’d be lying if I said I had planned to let it sit so long, and I’d also be lying if I said I feel like I wasted the time in between. Twenty-ten was spent pushing hard on 600 Hours of Edward, rounding The Summer Son into shape (and finding a publisher for it), essays, short stories and the like. I did not want for work, though I probably could have gotten by on a little less rest.

Just the same, after writing and selling two novels in twenty months, to have let twelve more slip by me with no measurable progress on a third seems … unlikely. And yet, that’s just what happened. Now that the thing is moving again, I’ll hope to stay atop it until I see it through. As to its working title or storyline, I’d like to hold that close for a little while longer yet. Ideas are like newborn puppies; the fewer hands that touch them, the better.

Last night at Parmly Billings Library, I presented a workshop called “Igniting the Novel Inside,” geared toward folks who’ve always wanted to write a novel but haven’t quite started or finished.

It’s a big topic. Any of the areas we briefly touched on — cultivating an idea, preparing to write, writing, staying on track, rewriting — would be worth a workshop unto itself. We had about 15 hardy participants who were generous with their enthusiasm. I thank them for forgoing “Survivor” and the Country Music Awards, and special thanks to assistant library director Dee Ann Redman for inviting me to do the session.

Here’s the slideshow that accompanied my talk.

As we’re knee-deep into National Novel Writing Month, I have to ask: What are you working on? How’s it going?

My blog book tour wraps up today at novelist Carol Buchanan’s site. There, I tell about how I built the protagonist of my novel, Edward Stanton.

Finishing up with Carol, who wrote the beautiful God’s Thunderbolt, is fitting. She’s become one of the best friends I’ve met in this publishing journey, a fellow Montanan and a monumental talent. I give her my thanks for hosting me.

If you cruise over and drop in a comment, you’ll be in the mix for a signed copy of 600 Hours of Edward. Don’t miss out!

If you’d like to check out my previous blog stops, just click the links below:

Day 1: NaNoWriMo and the birth of 600 Hours.

Day 2: Misadventures in self-publishing.

Day 3: Landing a publishing deal.

Day 4: On writing a character with mental illness.

Day 5: Q&A with Jim Thomsen.

Day 6: Writing the West into a story.

It was all great fun, and I met some wonderful people. I’m looking forward to a fresh round of experiences with Book No. 2. Thanks for riding along.

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