Friday, July 30, 2010

How to write a follow-up to a widely praised debut novel...

... with patience!

This week, I visited with a terrific Richmond book club (pictured here). Thanks to Wendi and Dan for hosting. And thank you to (pictured from left) Katherine, Karla, Wendi, Lloyd, Sherry, Kim, Tracy, Susan and Karen for great questions and enthusiasm. I had a wonderful time! (That's me fifth from the left.)

And last night, I read and spoke at the Hopewell Library. I had the best time talking with the audience and the friends of the library, who presented me with a wonderful beautiful pen and a bag of great library swag. Thank you!

Last night, Chris Wiegard, the librarian, asked, "Do you feel pressure writing the second book?"
Ironically, for the last couple months, I've been struggling with this second book. Just last night on the way to the event, I was trying to decide if I should right the new ending to my second novel (or attempt it) or if I should take a few days off and then start at the beginning of the book to make sure the ending is dead-on and has more convergence, pulling together all the threads from earlier chapters. I am feeling a little panicked because I am seriously on the 22nd draft of this novel. SERIOUSLY. I do not want to follow up The Handbook for Lightning Strike Survivors with anything that will disappoint. I don't want to write a dud. I have to keep in mind what my audience will be expecting, but I also have to be true to myself and my vision and voice. Fortunately, I think these components are in league with each other.

It's very difficult writing this second book. I thought I was finished with a solid book (at one point)--only to realize that the pacing and plot were lacking.

Visiting with libraries, bookstores, and book clubs, I know that my characters have struck a chord with readers. The characters mean the world to me! I still get choked up talking about them. I don't want my second book to achieve any less: by my standards or by readers'.

*On a very different and very personal note, my best friend from 2nd to 1oth grade came to the reading last night. Mari "Brubaker" is all grown up with a teenage daughter of her own. It was wonderful to see her. She sees herself in The Handbook for Lightning Strike Survivors. I see her there too. I'm so glad that she came to the event. Thanks, Mari, and thank you for the wonderful card.

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