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As I type these words, the release of my second novel, The Summer Son, lies just a week away. During the first couple of weeks of release, some friends and fellow book bloggers are going to be helping me get out the word about the new book. In exchange for their generosity in letting me hang around their sites, I’ll be giving away signed copies of the book at each stop.

Here’s the lineup. Please do these folks the courtesy of visiting their sites, now and during the upcoming appearances. My guess is you’ll find plenty to interest you at each one:

Monday, January 24: I’ll kick things off at A Word Please, hosted by author Darcia Helle, with an essay on the meeting of fact and fiction in The Summer Son.

Tuesday, January 25 (release day): Billings Gazette arts reporter Jaci Webb will host a Q&A with me at the 5:01 blog.

Wednesday, January 26: At The Book Inn, hosted by Natalie Wadel, I’ll write about fathers and sons, the major theme of the book.

Thursday, January 27: At Straight from Hel, hosted by Helen Ginger, I’ll write about the 20-month stretch in which I wrote and sold my first two novels, a burst of creativity that I’m not likely to mimic anytime soon.

Friday, January 28: The first week will wrap up with a visit to The Visual Side of Journalism, hosted by Charles Apple, where he’ll pitch some questions at a guy (me) who works in the production trenches of a daily newspaper but writes fiction on the side.

Monday, January 31: Cherie Newman, host of the excellent “The Write Question” on Montana Public Radio, gives me the keys to her blog of the same name and lets me hold forth on what it means to write in and of Montana.

Tuesday, February 1: This will be a little different. My friend Jim Thomsen will host a Q&A with me in the form of a Facebook note. But don’t worry: if you’ve so far resisted the siren song of the social network, the interview will be simulcast on two authors’ blogs: R.J. Keller’s Ingenious Title to Appear Here Later and Kristen Tsetsi’s From a Little Office in a Little House.

Wednesday, February 2: One Book at a Time blogger Page Eberhardt gives me the floor for an essay on where stories come from, as if I have any idea.

Thursday, February 3: The fellas over at 3 Guys, One Book let me pitch in with an entry in their ongoing series “When We Fell in Love.”

Friday, February 4: I wrap up at Coffee, Books and Laundry, hosted by Melissa Vasquez, where I’ll write about balancing readers’ expectations with following the muse wherever she leads.

So please (please!) make plans to follow along each day, and be sure to throw in for a chance at a signed book at each stop.

Almost two years ago, fueled by little more than a faint story idea and my own volatile cocktail of mania, I started writing what would become 600 Hours of Edward. I finished the first draft in 25 days.

I know what you’re doing: You’re looking at the calendar and saying, “That SOB did National Novel Writing Month!”

Indeed, I did. It wasn’t the first time. But it was the first time I completed the challenge of writing at least 50,000 words in 30 days. (I actually wrote 79,175 words in 25 days. Actually, it was 17 days, because I took eight days off. But, really, who’s counting?)

In the hindsight of two years, I can now say with confidence that I couldn’t have written Edward in any other way. And now that I have a second, more conventionally written novel to my credit, the forthcoming The Summer Son, I can also say with confidence that I’ll never do NaNoWriMo again, at least not in the way that it’s intended (i.e., as a spawning ground for a fresh work of fiction).

To find out why, as well as some tips for tackling the NaNoWriMo challenge if you’re so inclined, check out my guest gig at Jim Thomsen’s Reading Kitsap blog.

Here’s the kicker:

Having written one novel under the auspices of NaNoWriMo and one in a more traditional way (three-month first draft, followed by nine months of revisions), I have to tell you that I’ll probably never again do the NaNoWriMo thing. Word count is a pretty flimsy construct in the first place; when someone asks me how long a story should be, my answer is: As many words as it needs, and not one more. To then squeeze those 50,000 words out under intense pressure no doubt leads to some irretrievably poor writing. If it’s the challenge you want, that’s one thing. But if you’re aiming for a writing career, you should ask yourself some hard questions about what you want from a month’s work. It’s entirely possible that NaNoWriMo won’t offer what you’re seeking.

New to the blogroll today (and only because I was lazy about 10 days ago, when it launched):

Jim Thomsen, gentleman and blogger.

Reading Kitsap, by my good friend Jim Thomsen.

While the blog does play to a Kitsap County, Wash., core audience, Jim has some ambitious plans for it. As he said in the introductory post: “It’s my hope that this becomes the one stop for all news about our writing, publishing, bookselling and book-sharing communities.”

So far, he’s been true to his words. He’s had items on writers (including the awesome Jonathan Evison, who has come in for some praise here), provocative posts about how technology is changing our reading habits, riffs on book design and all kinds of other fabulous stuff. One of the best parts of my day is when a new post hits my e-mail box.

And if you think I might be trying to figure out some way to connect myself to Kitsap County so I can wedge my way into this blog … you’re right!

Advance copies of Jonathan Evison’s new novel, West of Here, started landing on doorsteps this week.

The description will make you want to read it:

Set in the fictional town of Port Bonita, on Washington State’s rugged Pacific coast, West of Here is propelled by a story that both re-creates and celebrates the American experience—it is storytelling on the grandest scale. With one segment of the narrative focused on the town’s founders circa 1890 and another showing the lives of their descendants in 2006, the novel develops as a kind of conversation between two epochs, one rushing blindly toward the future and the other struggling to undo the damage of the past.

An exposition on the effects of time, on how something said or done in one generation keeps echoing through all the years that follow, and how mistakes keep happening and people keep on trying to be strong and brave and, most important, just and right, West of Here harks back to the work of such masters of Americana as Bret Harte, Edna Ferber, and Larry McMurtry, writers whose fiction turned history into myth and myth into a nation’s shared experience. It is a bold novel by a writer destined to become a major force in American literature.

Delicious, no? Well, check this out:

Apparently, Evison’s publisher, Algonquin, loves this book enough to give the advance copies packaging that is, simply, too cool for school. A couple of boxes, postcards, maps, a letter from the book’s editor and — oh, yeah — the book itself.

My friend Jim Thomsen, the lucky recipient of one of these packages, forwarded me some photos. Check it:

Isn’t that just the coolest damn thing ever?

In a few weeks, I’ll be sending out some review copies of my next novel — and I’m suddenly, surprisingly, sad to say that they’ll go out in plain padded envelopes. Maybe I’ll stick some Necco wafers in there, just to amp up my game a little.

Visit Jonathan’s website here. And better yet, buy his book. I have a feeling it’s going to be big.

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.

My blog tour chugs into its fifth day with a stop at Jim Thomsen’s blog: http://jimthomsen1.wordpress.com/2009/11/03/guest-blogger-craig-lancaster/

The man is nothing if not thorough. He asked 21 questions — literally, not figuratively — and was firing them at me right up until about 2 a.m. today. He’s giving away a signed copy of my novel, 600 Hours of Edward, to one lucky commenter, so get in there and mix it up with us.

There’s also a shorter interview up at Working Writers. My thanks to Cherie Burbach for inviting me to do that.

Two more blog stops loom after today. We’ll be giving away a signed book at each, so please stick around:

Wednesday: Cowgirl Dreams author Heidi Thomas will host a guest post from me on using the West as a setting.

Thursday: Carol Buchanan, a Spur Award winner for God’s Thunderbolt: The Vigilantes of Montana, will let me sit down and get into the nuts and bolts of how I wrote from Edward’s point of view.

I’m a guest blogger at Kimberly Parker’s For the Sake of Joy site today, where I talk a bit about the development of my main character, Edward Stanton, and offer an excerpt of 600 Hours of Edward.

Here’s a snippet:

I also made another decision, one driven by the desire to write well and write humanely. Edward could not, under any circumstances, become a punch line or a punching bag. Certainly, his compulsions and patterns could — and did — lead to some amusing moments, but they needed to be grounded in Edward’s earnestness and general good nature. Readers can laugh at some of the situations he finds himself in, but I never, ever wanted them to laugh at him.

If you comment on the blog post, you’ll be entered into a drawing for a signed copy of the book.

(I should also note that Gavin Bollard’s excellent Life with Aspergers blog has a short article on the book and links back to Kimberly’s site.)

After today, the blog tour rolls on to three more destinations:

Tuesday: Jim Thomsen will host me for a Q&A.

Wednesday: Cowgirl Dreams author Heidi Thomas will host a guest post from me on using the West as a setting.

Thursday: Carol Buchanan, a Spur Award winner for God’s Thunderbolt: The Vigilantes of Montana, will let me sit down and get into the nuts and bolts of how I wrote from Edward’s point of view.

Books are in the offing every day. Come on along for the ride.

Today marks the end of my three-day stint as a guest blogger at The Blood-Red Pencil. Today’s topic: Landing a publishing contract with Riverbend Publishing, which just released my debut novel, 600 Hours of Edward. Cruise on over and toss in a chance to win a signed copy of the book.

My blog book tour will pick up again Monday and run four more days at the following stops:

Monday, Nov. 2: I’ll have a guest post at For The Sake of Joy, a blog run by writer Kimberly Parker. In it, I’ll discuss the challenges and pitfalls of drawing a main character who suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder and Asperger syndrome. Gavin Bollard’s excellent blog, Life With Aspergers, will link to Kimberly’s site.

Tuesday, Nov. 3: Jim Thomsen will host me for a Q&A. Jim asks deep, penetrating questions — check out the Q&A with Diane Fanning that’s on his site now — so be sure to drop in.

Wednesday, Nov. 4: Cowgirl Dreams author Heidi Thomas will host a guest post from me on using the West as a setting.

Thursday, Nov. 5: Carol Buchanan, a Spur Award winner for God’s Thunderbolt: The Vigilantes of Montana, will let me sit down and get into the nuts and bolts of how I wrote from Edward’s point of view.

Copies of the book will be handed out at each stop, so bookmark the sites now and follow along.

And check back here Sunday — the start of that crazy dash of writing called NaNoWriMo — for a guest post that simultaneously scares me and thrills me. My wife, Angela, will write about the birth of my novel from her perspective. I can’t wait to see what she has to say. Angela, it should be noted, is enormously supportive of my writing but also fiercely protective of her time with me away from the computer. It’s a perpetual balancing act, and one I don’t always perform well. … Anyway, I’ll let her cover this ground. She will pull no punches. She never does.

* — It is, after all, nearly Halloween.

Now that 600 Hours of Edward is available — really, it isseriously — I’m hitting the virtual road to chat about the book, writing, vintage TV, big-hair bands, alchemy, snipe hunting, whatever.

Behold, my schedule:

Day 1 of the blog book tour is in the bag. I was a guest at The Blood-Red Pencil on Wednesday to chat about National Novel Writing Month and 600 Hours‘ genesis in that event last year. (By the way, I’m doing the NaNoWriMo madness again this year. You should, too.)

Today, I’m back at The Blood-Red Pencil, this time talking about my experience initially releasing my novel through CreateSpace. Drop by and mix it up with us in the comments section. Here’s a bonus: A signed copy of 600 Hours will be given away.

Finally, on Friday, I’ll make one last appearance at The Blood Red Pencil to talk about landing a publishing contract with Riverbend Publishing, which gave my novel a new title, a new cover and a new life. And, yes, another signed copy of 600 Hours will be up for grabs.

Also Friday, I’ll appear on Stacey Cochran’s Book Chatter program on USTREAM. The show begins at 9 p.m. Mountain time. We’ll be talking about 600 Hours, publishing at large, writing and anything online viewers steer us toward. To call in, dial up the show at (914) 803-4571 or use the chat box online.

Monday brings the beginning of a new batch of guest blog posts. Join me at the following stops:

Monday, Nov. 2: Kimberly Parker’s For the Sake of Joy blog, where I’ll talk about Edward Stanton, the obsessive-compulsive Aspergian at the center of my novel. Bookmark the blog now and join in the comments and take your shot at winning a signed copy of the book.

Tuesday, Nov. 3: Jim Thomsen will host a Q&A with me at his blog. It will be an extensive look at the book, the writing life and the weird compulsions that go into it. We’ll give away a signed book there, too. (Are you sensing a theme?)

Wednesday, Nov. 4: Author Heidi Thomas (Cowgirl Dreams) is letting me hang around her corral and talk about using the West (or any other setting) as a character in a novel. (Signed book giveaway still in effect.)

Thursday, Nov. 5: The tour wraps up at the blog of author Carol Buchanan (God’s Thunderbolt: The Vigilantes of Montana). Carol gave 600 Hours a favorable review back in its independently published days, and she did so despite general misgivings about first-person, present-tense point of view and main characters suffering from mental illness. Since I won her over, she’s going to let me explain why I made the storytelling choices I did and how I went about putting them into play. It will be a good discussion for anyone who struggles with point of view and character development. (Also, I’m made to understand that we’ll be giving away a signed book. I’m just sayin’.)

And for those of you in the Billings area, a few signings are on the schedule:

On Saturday, Nov. 7, I’ll be at Borders at 2833 King Ave. West from 2 to 4 p.m. to sign copies of the novel.

On Friday, Dec. 4, I’ll be in front of Thomas Books, 209 29th St. North, from 7 to 9 p.m. during the annual Billings Holiday Parade. Hope to see you there.

And on Saturday, Jan. 2, I’ll be at Barnes and Noble, 530 24th St. West, from 2 to 4 p.m. to help you make good use of those holiday gift cards.

Keep an eye on the events page at my Web site for more appearances and signings as they get lined up.

Thanks to the skills of R.J. Keller, author of the excellent Waiting for Spring, I’m happy to report that 600 Hours of Edward now has a video companion.

Check it out.

In other book-related news, we’re just days away from the start of my blog book tour for 600 Hours. Here’s the itinerary again:

Wednesday, Oct. 28: I’ll be at The Blood-Red Pencil to chat about the novel’s genesis in NaNoWriMo 2008.

Thursday, Oct. 29: Day 2 at The Blood-Red Pencil, where I’ll discuss lessons learned with the independently published version of the novel.

Friday, Oct. 30: Day 3 at The Blood-Red Pencil. On tap: a discussion about landing a contract with Riverbend Publishing, the publisher of 600 Hours of Edward.

Monday, Nov. 2: I’ll have a guest post at For The Sake of Joy, a blog run by writer Kimberly Parker. In it, I’ll discuss the challenges and pitfalls of drawing a main character who suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder and Asperger syndrome. Gavin Bollard’s excellent blog, Life With Aspergers, will link to Kimberly’s site.

Tuesday, Nov. 3: Jim Thomsen will host me for a Q&A. Jim asks deep, penetrating questions — check out the Q&A with Diane Fanning that’s on his site now — so be sure to drop in.

Wednesday, Nov. 4: Cowgirl Dreams author Heidi Thomas will host a guest post from me on using the West as a setting.

Thursday, Nov. 5: Carol Buchanan, a Spur Award winner for God’s Thunderbolt: The Vigilantes of Montana, will let me sit down and get into the nuts and bolts of how I wrote from Edward’s point of view.

Be sure to bookmark these blogs and follow along. A signed copy of 600 Hours of Edward will be given away each day, and I’ll be sticking around to chat with folks who drop in a comment.

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