Fair to Middling- Behind the Scenes

Hey everyone! Kira here. As promised, I’m giving you the inside scoop on my latest book, Fair to Middling which is coming out later this week (Friday, 10/26). If you’d like to pre-order your copy, you can do so by clicking this link: http://www.fivesmilingfish.com/shop/pre-order-fair-to-middling-print

This book was originally planned by myself and Grandpa with more than a little nudging from Grandma. The idea was to get all of his wonderful, vivid stories recorded and to give him something to focus on other than Grandma’s failing health.

I’d always known Grandpa had been in WWII, but he’d never really spoken about it too much when I was growing up. When we started recording his tales, I wasn’t sure how much he’d actually say.

Turns out a lot.

We spoke every day for five years. At first, I called about the project, but then to just check in on him after Grandma passed. He began all of our conversations with “oh, I’m fair to middling” and ended the with “I love you very much. Thank you for calling.” We shared jokes and we shared sorrow. We had adventures, some of which I’ve recorded in the book.

Grandpa died three years ago this November. 

I wasn’t prepared for the actual writing of this book. As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, this type of story is not what I usually write. I wasn’t sure where or how to start and, with Grandpa’s passing, I was terrified I started too late, that I missed some vital piece of information that would cause the whole project to go up in flames.

This was, by far, the most difficult piece of writing I’ve done to date simply in terms of how sheerly personal the subject matter is and how emotional the topic is for me. (I still can’t read part 10 without bursting into tears). However, that’s not to say it wasn’t blessed. So many times I was halted in the process by missing whole swathes of information. Within a matter of hours, I’d discover a misfiled video of Grandpa that answered all of my questions. I’d find pages of notes out of nowhere only to realize that it was the exact bits I needed to get unstuck. I like to think Grandpa was there guiding me through the many drafts of the story, making sure I got it right.

Grandpa was an amazing story teller, one that I wish I could be like. This book is my attempt to honor the man he was and pay tribute to his time with us.

This project was a promise. It was a post mortem connection to a man that influenced my entire life on so many levels. Now that the promise has been kept and his stories will be available for everyone, I can picture the twinkle in his eyes and him giving me that lopsided grin. Ever so faintly, I can hear him say, “I love you very much. Thank you for calling.”

Where has Kira been?

It’s been awhile since I contributed to this blogsphere. In my defense, my life has been a veritable whirlwind of activity.

What’s been going on, you may wonder? Well? I’ve just finished a very personal project that’s taken almost a decade from conception to completion. Many of you have probably seen my posts about Fair to Middling- a book I began working on along with my grandpa. As of the writing of this blog, I’m waiting for the first print run to be delivered. I’ll talk about this specific project in a later blog as it’s vastly different than what I usually like to create.

Some of you may be familiar with Azra’s parenting blogs. Well, based on the relative success of those, he effectively Patrick Swayze’d me into getting an illustrated parenting guide into production.  (Yes he kept me up during all hours of the night. No, it wasn’t just the song Henry the 8th. It was so much worse...) I’m working very closely with a new talented artist and anticipate this comic-like publication to come in the next year or so. Stay tuned for more details!

I’ve also begun a new, unrelated project that is sending me down so many research rabbit holes. I absolutely love this part of creating a new story, but it has eaten up a crazy amount of time. I’ll go more into this in a separate blog post.

Then there’s been the madness of my day job and the constant struggle of maintaining some semblance of sanity. It’s not leaving a lot of time for blog updates.

But all this is about to change! Fall has arrived and I don’t know about you, but when things start to cool off in the desert, there’s a definite sense of renewal. It’s October- our favorite time of year and I’m even more energized to make sure my blogs are up to date and to get all of these projects that are floating around out there into production and ready for you.

There’s so much we have planned in the upcoming months. I can’t wait to share it all with you.

Also, Azra can’t wait to get back to dispensing his fabulous (read- horrible) advice.

Thanks for bearing with me!



Lessons from Nanowrimo 2017

I have survived Nanowrimo this year, more or less intact. This is an annual exercise for me and my friends. We use the motivation that Nano provides to get out the first drafts of many of our novels. We use it to finish up works that we need to just buckle down and write. It’s not just for November, either. There are year round resources and information you can access with Nano, not to mention their Camp Wrimo and meet ups. I highly encourage you to check it out if you are the writing type.

This year, my Nano project was my grandfather’s story; Fair to Middling; a very difficult topic since my grandfather passed two years ago around Thanksgiving. I’ve got videos and letters and a whole assortment of notes that I’ve been combing through. Not to mention the memories.

I want to say that everything for this Nanowrimo went perfectly. I want to say that I sat down, had butt in chair time and pounded out 1,667 words every day.

Life doesn’t happen like that.

Instead, there was an incessant buzz of adult responsibilities that distracted me from my writing. I was sick for a good week or so. We had conventions and book signings. A major recall happened on my car and there’s been a constant upheaval with our transportation. My day job has been keeping me later and later. Family has been pulling at my sleeve. The upcoming holidays and all the worry that comes along with it. The constant nagging that I still had to do things before I could write. Getting over that feeling is the hardest thing. After that, you have to convince yourself that the words you are diligently putting on the page do, in fact, make sense when strung together in a sentence. You have to ignore the little doubts crowding your head and trust that what you are writing is not complete and utter crap.

This year, I did make my word count, but only just. It was a hard-fought win. There’s still a little bit more to go in the story, but it shouldn’t take me that long before I can start editing.

All of this rambling is to make a certain point: Life will get in the way of your dreams. It will distract you, it will do its best to disillusion you, and it will try to legitimize the doubts that you aren’t good enough.

Your job is not to let it. Your job is to fight for your dreams and to achieve your goals.

It’s the only way you won’t live full of regret.

Keep fighting for what you want. Make a life on your terms, not everyone else’s.