The advent of Freddie Falcon Flye: My moment outside my comfort zone.

Yesterday I took a day off from my life as a fabulous writer of southern romance and women’s fiction, and the reason is pretty spectacular. Check him out:

freddie

Yes, that’s a cute little baby pup. He’s my birthday present. (My birthday, incidentally, is Friday.) I started out thinking I wanted a kitten for my birthday, because, honestly, I’m more of a cat person than a dog person. But then my path crossed this little pup’s, and it was love at first sight. Seriously, I fell in love with his picture. You see, he was an auction item at my kids’ school (hence the name, Freddie Falcon–named after the mascot), and I handled putting auction items on a Facebook page for the school. So I was ONE of the first to see Freddie’s baby picture. And I fell in love.

Here was the quandary. Freddie was not part of the silent auction. Silent auctions are easy. You pick a couple of things you’re interested in and write down your number and check back a couple of times to make sure you haven’t been outbid. Very simple for someone like me who doesn’t like to draw too much attention to herself and really isn’t comfortable at all in the limelight. I know what you’re saying. “Oh, come on. She writes romances. She takes stuff from her head, writes it down and publishes it for other people to read. And then she asks us to buy it. Now she wants us to believe she doesn’t really want us to pay attention to her?”

Yeah. But that’s different. It really is. Most of the time when I’m writing, it’s not like it’s coming from me at all. I mean, my heroines couldn’t be any different from me. I went from writing Alicia (Where the Heart Lies), who has to be my most courageous heroine to-date and way better of a person than me, to Cady (Ducks in a Row), a deeply flawed woman who is extremely selfish and someone I hope I’ll never be. Cady was fun to write, and I won’t deny I have some of her same foibles, but at times I really didn’t like her very much. And I wondered more than once if Alicia was a little too perfect. Her only real flaw was self-doubt.

So you can see that I don’t write my life story when I write. These characters are not me, and I always feel like they are the ones in the limelight. Live auctions require active participation and if you win a sought-after item, it’s you people are paying attention to. But I was in love with this little dog. What to do? I made a resolution to step outside my comfort zone. I try to do that every now and then anyway, so it’s nothing new, but this was really terrifying for me.

As luck would have it, I left the auction for a moment on an errand and came back after Freddie’s lot came up. I walked in, stood there frozen at the sight of the puppy picture I’d fallen so hard for on the screen. Moment of truth. Did I dare? My heart was pounding in my throat, I stood at the back of the auction, sick to my stomach, terrified, as the auctioneer called for bids. Then something in me snapped into place and my arm went up with my bid card. Oh my God, I did it!

But now I was in for it. The bids went on and the auctioneer called out again. I raised my hand, half afraid I was going to fall over in the too-high heels I’d worn. I longed for flipflops or even flats. I’m standing there in a cocktail dress in high heels participating in a live auction. Was this really me? I don’t wear cocktail dresses, and the only heels I wear are on my cowboy boots. My head whirled.

And then it came down to me and one other bidder. A couple of friends came to stand next to me for support. Maybe the other bidder loved that puppy, too. Probably she did. The parents of the kids who go to this school are wonderful people. No matter who bought him, he was going to be pampered and loved and played with. All these thoughts rushed through my pounding brain and I realized I’d lost track of the bidding. I whispered to my closest friend: Am I the high bidder? Not yet, she hissed back. My hand went up and Freddie was mine.

I am not joking when I tell you I still hadn’t recovered when they brought him to me and I held him for the first time, but the panic went away. I’d done it, and although it might seem like a small thing to anyone else, it felt like a huge triumph to me.

And that’s why I took yesterday off from almost everything. Everything except playing with my kids and my new dog, that is. We’ll call it a breathing moment.

Guilty Indulgences gives 4 chocolate-dipped strawberries to Where the Heart Lies!

What better way to start out the month of December than with a little guilty indulgence? The fabulous folks over at the Guilty Indulgence Review Site just thrilled me with a four-chocolate-dipped-strawberry review of Where the Heart Lies! Here’s an excerpt:

“Romance on the softer side for readers who enjoy a more predictable, mainstream read. … Readers will feel good and happy about this story… it made me smile.”–Guilty Indulgence

How great is that? Seriously. I feel like a reviewer really got what I was trying to do. I didn’t set out to be unpredictable (although I did try to keep the story interesting). All I wanted was to leave my readers with a smile. If I accomplished that, I’m happy because it means they cared about my characters while they read the story. If that’s not awesome, I don’t know what is!

Reminder to my blog tour winners: Please send me your mailing address so I can send you your goodies! I’ve got five so far, but there were way more winners than that. 🙂

November 26: Stars aligned, NaNoWriMo complete.

It’s official. I finished NaNoWriMo a few days ago. Then I edited the novel, added chapters, formatted it…and sent it to my editor. I’ve NEVER done anything like this before. I’m one of those write-it-let-it-sit-and-then-eventually-edit-it people. I’ve got a couple of novels sitting on my hard drive that I wrote more than a year ago. I think Stephen King calls them “trunk novels”. One of these days I’ll pull them out and figure out what to do with them.

So what’s different about this one? For one thing I wrote it faster than I’ve EVER written a novel. I’ve finished National Novel Writing Month twice before, but I’ve never finished it this much ahead of the deadline. And when I finished it, I wasn’t tired of it, so re-reading and editing wasn’t a chore. Plus, I’m actually energized and excited about the ideas this novel has inspired in me. It’s the first of what I hope is a series. I’m already working on the next one. Of course, by “working on the next one”, I mean the idea is simmering in my head. I have a vague idea of who the characters are and haven’t really decided about the plot. But the ingredients are simmering and congealing and eventually will come together in a delicious stew. (Now I’m getting hungry!)

NaNoWriMo was a fast ride this year, but it was a smooth one. I guess the stars aligned just right. Now I can afford a brief breathing moment before the next novel-writing frenzy overtakes me!

Last stop of the book tour: Check out My Devotional Thoughts for an interesting, if complimentary review of Where the Heart Lies and my own description of my writing schedule. Since this is my last stop of the tour, it’s also your last chance to enter to win my great prizes! (10% off coupons to Carina Press and a copy of Bartlett’s Poems for Occasions) Also, I would like to thank Goddess Fish for organizing the book tour, all the gracious hosts who shared their blogs with me and everyone who stopped by! It’s been a blast!

NaNoWriMo: What’s Going On? (exclusive excerpt from my NaNo novel)

No, I’m not confused. I’m updating. Finally. I feel like I’ve been in a daze most of this month, and I guess I have sort of been in a writing fever. Consumed. I’d like to credit National Novel Writing Month with this, but I’ve participated in this annual event often enough to know, if the story hadn’t been there, it wouldn’t have written itself like this. NaNoWriMo probably did help me keep going, but this story was just kind of there. The characters weren’t hard to bring to life because by the time November 1 rolled around, I already knew them well enough to write about them.

I’ve already said the story is about magic. I’ve spent most of my life looking for magic, even finding it every now and then in everyday life, trying to capture it and cage it on the page in black and white. It doesn’t work, usually. I’m not sure I managed it this time. Maybe you can tell me:

She could feel the dry desert breeze on her skin, a welcome relief after the canned air she’d been breathing all day. This far up, the air smelled fresh, free from the musty mix of sweaty bodies and sewage that often pervaded the street level of Vegas. If she kept her eyes closed, she could almost imagine what it had been like hundreds of years before when the cowboys rode through the desert…

She was wasting time. If she were going to do it, she should go ahead. She bit her lip, felt his hands on her hips, the warmth of his body behind her. As if he understood her inner battle, he leaned forward, his lips almost touching her ear, making her dizzy with desire at a time when she desperately didn’t want to be dizzy. At first she barely understood his words, but when they penetrated, she found her courage. “Sometimes you have to do something that frightens you just to be sure you’re still alive.”

Her eyes fluttered open, and she waited for the vertigo and fear to crash down on her. But with him at her back, she found she could look out at what was undeniably an amazing view. Somehow beautiful in its blatant excess, the Strip spread out below her in a medley of lights, looking like crystal and jeweled glass. She could see the people strolling along the street, slower and more peaceful at this late hour and at this great distance than she knew they would if she were among them. Light of every color bloomed and blossomed and split through the night. The light breeze brushed her hair back from her face, almost as gentle as his touch. For the first time, she could understand why Vegas had become known as the flower of the desert. “It’s amazing.”

He stood close enough so she could feel him nod. “From up here it is.” He moved to her side, and she immediately wished he hadn’t. She liked the solid feel of him behind her. He contemplated the view for a moment. “Do you know what I see down there?”

She shook her head. “What?”

“A lot of people looking for something. I’ve always believed it’s magic. Do you know what I think magic is?” He turned, searching her eyes.

Again she shook her head. A gust of wind whipped her hair across her face and he reached up to brush it back, his palm warm against her cheek. “Magic is the absence of doubt.”

So far, my magic novel is 48,000+ words. I anticipate finishing it today. It’s the first time I’ve ever finished a NaNo novel before Thanksgiving. It’s still untitled, although I have a few ideas. But if you want to help, feel free to leave a comment below with your suggestion.

And while I’m bragging, I got two reviews yesterday for Where the Heart Lies! One was from my gracious blog tour host Stitch Read Cook. Here’s an excerpt:

“Michelle has a way with words, she draws you into the small town life of these characters and keeps you hooked until the last page.” — Stitch Read Cook

The second was unexpected, however, and I found it by chance on Bookaddiction. Check this out:

“Where The Heart Lies by Michelle Garren Flye is a lovely story about guilt, redemption, and the power of love. …a well-written romantic novel with an unusual amount of depth.” –Bookaddiction

How cool is that? Makes me think my quest for magic might be progressing after all!

A Brief Announcement and Redirection…

Yes, I realize I haven’t posted anything real in over a week. (Last Tuesday’s Get Out and Vote Post doesn’t count.) Sorry about that, but I’ve been very busy with normal everyday life as well as anything-but-normal NANOWRIMO life. I’m happy to say I’ve had great success with NaNo this year, though. And here’s the big announcement: I’m up to 31,000+ words! I’m having so much fun with this one. I’ll tell you more about it later, but here’s a little hint: It’s about magic and the odd places you go to find it. It is a romance and it’s still untitled, so if anyone wants to leave me a suggestion for a title, I’d welcome it.

But if you want to read a real post from me today, I’m going to redirect you to Jersey Girl Book Reviews. As part of my blog tour, they’ve put up a very nice post featuring a little info about me and WHERE THE HEART LIES, a guest post titled “Capturing Magic: Lightning Bugs in a Mason Jar” and even a very nice, well-written, four-star review! Here’s a little tidbit from the review:

Where The Heart Lies is a poignant story of loss, grief, secrets, love, redemption and second chances.–Jersey Girl Book Review

Can you guess how much I enjoyed that review? So pop over and let JGBR know how much you appreciate their kindness to your favorite author–no, not Nicholas Sparks or J.K.Rowling. ME, silly. 🙂

Why you should make your bed during NaNo, plus today’s blog tour stop

It’s day five of NaNoWriMo and I’m exhausted. The late nights, the weekend’s time change, and the chilly weather are combining to make me think longingly of my bed. It’s right upstairs, unmade and calling. Oh crap. If only I’d made it as soon as I got out of it!

To make it worse, I actually want to write. I’m loving my NaNo story this year. Writing 2,000+ words hasn’t been too much of a challenge. In fact, the first day I wrote 5,000+ words. NaNo should not be able to defeat me this year.

And yet.

First of all, who decided to put the time change on the first weekend of National Novel Writing Month? Okay, I realize to the rest of the world, this is November, but still. The time change always throws me off, and yesterday, when I could have slept an extra hour, I decided to get up and write an extra hour instead. Of course, if I hadn’t done that, I probably wouldn’t have made my goal before midnight, but still.

Second, I lay awake last night thinking of plot points and possible twists and the character I’ve just thrown in and how she’s going to betray the heroine…and I couldn’t get to sleep until nearly one o’clock. Then I had to get up and get my kids off to school so I could write this blog to complain about how tired I am.

Third, I did NOT make my bed this morning. Understand that most household chores go by the wayside during NaNo (or a routine writing spurt), but making the bed should never be one of them. It just makes it too easy to climb back into it!

Ah well, if you’d like to hear more from me after all this nonsense, visit me at The Brunette Librarian this morning for a very nice review of WHERE THE HEART LIES and my take on where all those people I write about come from before they spring out of my head and onto the page.

Today’s blog tour stops and a reminder about my Foreign Affairs giveaway.

Goddess Fish Promotions has taken me all over the net, it seems, and today we make two stops, both of which I’m enjoying very much. Over at Once Upon a Time I was asked a very simple but very intriguing question. Describe a trip that changed you. Think about that for a minute. I had a hard time settling on one trip at first, but finally I figured it out. After you read the post over at Once Upon a time, check out this flash piece that was inspired by that same trip: China.

The second stop today is actually a review! My Reading Addiction gives Where the Heart Lies four stars and highly recommends it!

This is a story of loss, redemption, second chances, and a little bit of skeletons in the closet to throw a wrench in it. Great story line and smooth transitions with multi-dimensional characters. I highly recommend it. —My Reading Addiction

Finally, don’t forget about my Foreign Affairs print giveaway! Leave me a comment between now and October 31 for your chance to win a copy of Foreign Affairs in print. In the comment, tell me why you think ALL my books should be in print. What would you use them for? To prop up that uneven table leg? Firewood? Paper the birdcage? Give me a compelling and creative reason and enter to win your copy of the first print book with my name on the front cover. Check it out:

Isn’t it beautiful? Wouldn’t you love to own a copy? Well, here’s a buy link in case you just can’t wait for the giveaway to end: Turquoise Morning Press Bookstore. And now I’m off to do some real work!