Tomorrow marks the start of the one month countdown to the release of my next novel, The F-It List! I like to use a chocolate-filled advent calendar to mark the occasion. Not really, but that just gave me a really good idea to make my own life-sized advent calendar and fill it with full-sized candy bars hiding behind doors. Maybe I'm hungry. Or delirious. The baby boy, who turns four months today, is a crappy sleeper. He's still up every two hours. It's killing me, both mentally and physically. I think I've aged twenty years in the last four months. As you can see, this Friday post has a lot of month-measuring going on. And that's a big theme, both in the writing of "The F-It List" and the story itself. I used a friend's mom's online cancer journal to help me reference the progression of the disease and its treatment in the book. But in my own life, the months during the writing and publication of "The F-It List" have felt like centuries. Before I started writing the novel, but after I signed the contract, we lost a pregnancy (or was it two?). I had a lot of anger and hatred at my body and, sometimes, life in general. But there was that contract and a lightly looming deadline (nobody at my publisher pushed, but I knew I had to write a book). Not that I was dealing with cancer, but having medical issues helped fuel a lot of the questions and observations I used in the novel. Then I got pregnant again, something that should be joyous and anticipatory but becomes terrifying when you haven't always had success. That was last fall when I sat down for a few months to wrote the novel. Through morning sickness and endless doctors appointments, needles, and test after test after test, I wrote the story of a girl whose best friend gets cancer and how she helps her accomplish items from her bucket list. It wasn't the most uplifting subject while I was going through my own tumultuous medical adventure. So I added sex scenes. Because those are fun to write. And then my tests came back okay. And the morning sickness went away. And the possibility of actually having another baby seemed almost possible. This past spring, during the final pass through the pages of "The F-It List" where I look one last time for things I want to change (practically one word on every page), my beloved cat, Tobin, lost his own bout with cancer. He rested on my chest as I finished my final read-through (and before I knew he wouldn't be around much longer). The weight of his absence still drives me to tears (you'll find his name in the dedication of "The F-It List," and my son's middle name is Tobin). The last couple months of the pregnancy were fraught with gestational diabetes and the lack of sweet treats that come with it, plus the fear and uncertainty of what would happen during the birth. Then the baby came in June, healthy and sleepless. And here we are now, only one month away from The F-It List's release. Pretty much one year since I officially started writing it. Looking over this post, remembering the things that happened, it's been a really long year. A rough one. But also a happy one. Which I guess is what life's all about. "The F-It List," out November 12, is a book about life, not just about cancer. It sounds silly, but I found myself quoting Matthew McConaughey from "Dazed and Confused" (and I remember reading that he actually was quoting his own dad) a lot over this year: Just Keep Livin.' And I did.