I’m ahead of the curve!

My sequel is done! (Well, the first draft, at least.) My agent managed to wrangle me an extension, but I was done a month ahead of the original schedule, anyway. Bahaha. And all that.

A few weeks ago I finished the rough manuscript of the second Dearly book, which is entitled (and as far as I know, no one has a problem with the title), DEARLY, BELOVED.

BELOVED is the first sequel I’ve ever written, and it was an entirely different experience. I admit, going in, I was a little trembly. A few other authors had made off-the-cuff remarks to the effect of, “Oh, second series books are the most challenging,” and I think I embraced these comments a little too tightly. While the beginning was slow, I soon picked up my usual speed.

I normally don’t talk about the process of writing – other authors do it so much better than I could ever hope to. Besides, as with the rest of my blogging, such musing usually strikes me as the sort of thing no one in their right mind would be curious about. (I’m horribly uninteresting.) But I’m going to try it this time, because I think I learned quite a bit.

So, in no particular order, here are the biggest hurdles and the best rewards from my initial work on the second installment of GONE WITH THE RESPIRATION. (Yes, that is what I’m calling my series. “Saga,” “chronicles,” and all related terms are overused, I think.)

HURDLING THE DEAD (Challenges)

1. Probably the biggest challenge was just having to pick up the threads of the first book – simple, required, and dreadfully unnerving. Because of the way DEARLY, DEPARTED came to exist (it was written for personal fun, with no intention of ever actually being published), part of editing it involved opening up the conclusion to make room for a sequel. Come BELOVED, it was time to inspect the exit wound.

And really, “exit wound” is a great term for it. A ton of terribly dark events happened in DEPARTED, and doing a sequel forced me to look at certain characters and realize, “He/she went through hell; what are they still doing here?” I had to find ways to incorporate their experiences into an ongoing story, while still (hopefully) retaining some of the irreverent humor from DEPARTED.

Specifically, the character of Pamela Roe had to be dealt with carefully. She was so extraordinarily strong in DEPARTED; yet, because of the events in that book, she is now a walking mess of scars. And my heroine, Nora, is such a passionate young woman, just this little ball of energy bouncing around furiously at everything in her environment – it was a bit tricky getting a handle on her again, at first. She has so much going on in her life, now.

2. And thus, related to that: I found myself questioning my ability to “take up” certain characters again. I found myself fearing that I’d lost them, somehow, and wouldn’t be able to reprise them. A lot of this, I discovered, was due to the fact that they had developed. I wasn’t crazy, I hadn’t lost anyone – I was just alert enough to sense the changes they’d gone through. That’s all. Separating honest development from personal shakiness in trotting out characters for a second go was quite difficult, at first.

Of all the characters that have POV chapters in book two, Bram Griswold was definitely the easiest to slip back into. I’ve always maintained that I am both feminine and masculine in temperament, both to extremes, and Bram seems to flow very naturally from the masculine part of my personality. (Note to self: Try to really reincarnate as male next time, kick major ass.)

3. And finally, I’m still a bit up in the air as to the actual content of the sequel. I’ve yet to receive any feedback on it – and writing knowing that I will be receiving feedback, and working on into the future with said feedback, is new for me. I really hope I was able to come up with situations and scenes that resonate, and are true to the original. Then again, after editing the first book, I’m now comfortable with the idea of a manuscript being extremely fluid.

Weirdly enough, while (as far as I know) everyone on my publishing team really loves the romance in the first book, I think I’m awful at writing romance! And book two, of course, has at least one major romantic couple to deal with, and a few others sort of flirting around the edges. So, fingers crossed. Guns are so much easier. I can work with guns.

FAVOR OF THE ANCESTORS (Rewards)

1. By far, the most interesting and entertaining part about writing my sequel was dealing with side characters from DEPARTED – in particular, Edmund Lopez and Vespertine Mink. These two characters were, in the first draft of book one, nothing more than throwaways. I needed a bully, and I needed a rescuer, and – tada! There they were.

In book two, though, they’ve grown into so much more. I daresay that out of the main three “schoolgirl” characters, Vespertine is the one I most identify with, now – not the heroine of the title! And Edmund is just so sweet. I want to make him a brandy and fetch his slippers.

I also had a ton of fun with the new zombie characters – Sofia Cicatriz and Patient One, in particular. Then again, I generally prefer writing the zombies – evil, good, it doesn’t matter. They’ve just got such a unique take on the world, and they’ve been through so much.

2. SAMEDI. I loooooved writing Samedi again, and I’d like to give him POV at some point. Dr. Baldwin Samedi is the only character I would describe as “springing fully formed from my brow” – from the simple “headless zombie” note I scrawled to myself, he turned into this fantastically vibrant character. Within about half an hour, I knew him completely. Book two opens up some of his past. I’d love to write more about his past exploits one day (perhaps a series of short stories?), but the majority of that action would take place while he was alive, so it mayn’t be as interesting.

3. Looking ahead. Just that. It was wonderful to revisit the characters and realize that now I have the room to write about them in depth. It’s been amazing (and humbling, and sometimes disturbing, and sometimes baaaw-worthy) to envision their respective fates. I don’t view my characters as children, or as separate entities from myself, but they’re still “people” I care a great deal about.

All in all, I hope to have the opportunity to write perhaps five or six books for the series. There’s just such a massive cast, and now I feel like they all need to be treated respectfully and thoroughly – especially the zombies who will, of course, pass away one by one. There is no immortality in my zombie books, and that’s the point.

So, now, while I’m waiting for my editors to work on the sequel, I’ve been told that there might be some interest in my old clockwork girl stories. I’m going to look into that, and perhaps work on the Samedi idea, if only to entertain myself. That’s how this whole business got started, of course!

By the way, Badass Bookie is holding a fantastic event for YA debuts, and I’m part of it! You can read my entries here and here. Thank you so much!

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26 Comments

  1. I’ve heard briefly from other authors writing a sequel is different from writing the first book in the series. Sounds like you have really learned a lot here. And great things to keep in mind for other new authors as well. :) But so great teasers here for the first book too.

    Best of luck to you with the books, and hope not to many edits for you on this one. :) Congrats on getting done early!

  2. Natalie Frampton
    Aug 2, 2011

    I am so so so looking forward to dearly beloved!!!

  3. Tiffany Mahaffy
    Nov 10, 2011

    I bought Dearly, Departed as soon as it came out and it went close to the top of my TBR list right away. I just finished reading it and let me say “WOW”! I am in love with it for so many reasons. I was blown away and am amazed that you have never published before! You did an amazing job and I will be first in line to buy Dearly, Beloved :)

  4. Miss Habel
    Miss Habel
    Nov 10, 2011

    Aww, thank you! :D

  5. Missy
    Nov 16, 2011

    Ditto all the book love! I’m eagerly looking forward to DEARLY, BELOVED.

    I do have one question: do you have a series name yet?

  6. Ashley
    Nov 21, 2011

    I honestly LOVED your book. Truely. I have to admit, though, I read above – that there is no immortality for the Zombies in your books, I will hold out hope for Bram.. :)
    I love the relationship between Nora & Bram & I hope to see more from you, reguarding them!

  7. Miss Habel
    Miss Habel
    Nov 21, 2011

    Thank you so much! :D

  8. Miss Habel
    Miss Habel
    Nov 21, 2011

    Not an official one, no. People have been referring to it as “the Dearly series,” and I jokingly refer to it as “Gone with the Respiration.” (Though truth be told, I like the latter!)

  9. Ashley
    Nov 22, 2011

    If I *promise* not to hold you to it, as I know things change, could I ask you when Beloved might be out? Or if you are able give us an update on it? :)

  10. Miss Habel
    Miss Habel
    Nov 22, 2011

    Probably the same time next year (fall). I’m currently working on the revised version (about…7 chapters from the end?) that will go out to the company at large. Until now, it’s just been my agent and my editor.

    As for fun stuff: The sequel is huge – seriously huge. I’m currently at over 500 pages in Word. There are six narrators this time (Bram, Nora, Pam, Michael, Vespertine, and a new zombie girl) and a couple one-liner characters from book one become hugely important (because I’m of the theory “why create a new character when you can flesh a cameo out?”).

  11. Ashley
    Nov 23, 2011

    Okay, hands down you are THE COOLEST Author, ever. Thanks so much for the update!! I can’t wait! I think Bram & Nora are offically one of my Favorite couples!
    PLEASE keep writing, I have been in search of a new Series for a couple of months now, and your Dearly series seems to be like a great line of books! Can’t wait!
    Best Wishes! :)

  12. Sandra
    Jan 16, 2012

    The best book of the year, in my opinion. So much potential for a great series.

    Guns are quicker… but swords are sooo sexy.

  13. Miss Habel
    Miss Habel
    Jan 16, 2012

    Aww, thank you! And yeah, swords are awesome – there’s actually one in D,B. Unfortunately, it doesn’t end well. XD

  14. Darcie Thomas
    Jan 21, 2012

    I’m a massive fan of Dearly Departed and was almost angry at the end, because im so desperate to know more! As soon as Dearly Beloved is released and read, no doubt ill be back again looking for any information on the next book :) Please dont ever give up writing , you have a truley amazing talent which is better shared :D

  15. Allison
    Feb 3, 2012

    I really loved your book. I just really really want to know somthing. Will Renfeild eventally find love?!I love his charactor. Its so cute how he goes crazy over machines. Im posting this in my Computer Aided Design class (CAD). Im being a bad girl (:

  16. Miss Habel
    Miss Habel
    Feb 3, 2012

    You’ll have to see! :D He’ll definitely be in book two, though!

  17. Caraya
    Feb 14, 2012

    I absolutely adore your books. I love finding a good read, because all books influence my writing. ♥ I can say yours is at the top of the list and will stay there. It’s really hard to see that that’s your first published book. It’s also nice to see you find writing just fun and something you love, while many now seem to find it as a job and simply that.

    I look forward to reading Dearly, Departed. I don’t expect anyting less of fantastic after your first book. I LOVE it. ♥♥♥ I seriously can’t wait!! :D

  18. Miss Habel
    Miss Habel
    Feb 14, 2012

    Thank you so much! Your faith means a lot! :D

  19. violett
    Feb 18, 2012

    Hello! Let me just say, I love your book soo much! I was just wondering when the sequel will come out in 2012? I’m super excited and you are pretty awesome. Much luck!:)

  20. Miss Habel
    Miss Habel
    Feb 18, 2012

    I’ve been told September 25th! :D Thank you for your kind words!

  21. Sam Whaley
    Feb 20, 2012

    Hello!~ I just wanted to say, that the 7 hours it took me to read Dearly, Departed were probably the best seven hours of my life. Just saying. :)
    This book is amazing, and the second I finished it, I hopped on the nearest computer to see if driving to Barnes and Noble for the sequel would have been in vain. Unfortunately, I must wait six months for that, haha.
    I am DYING (no pun intended) to read the sequel. I wont to see all that will happen with these characters! Epecially Vespertine and Micheal – I’m interested to see what goes on with them. And if there will be a vaccine. And numerous other things I won’t bore you with, haha.
    Also, let me say, someone should make a movie of this (or a holo :)). Books are ALWAYS more amazing, but, it’d be fun to see happen.
    This story has really got me going, and I hope I don’t sound like some creepy weirdo – I just really appreciate your writing and hope you more success upon the sequel. (You can count another buyer here!)

  22. Allison
    Feb 21, 2012

    Aww! The suspense. Well, i’ll gladly wait. I read so much that it gets to the point where I dont find many books enjoyable. Thats why I was so happy to read yours. Now Im off to read those short stories. :)

  23. Brandi M Lynch
    Apr 6, 2012

    I loved Dearly, Departed, and I have a great respect for how you handled your zombie characters. I think their tenacity to live despite being undead and on a time-limit is what really impressed me. Also, I think you handled the romance beautifully! I feel a little awkward when writing romantic pieces myself (I’ll take a sword, thank you!), but Nora and Bram felt very natural to me. I’m currently infecting others with Dearly, Departed, and I await Beloved with eager eyes!

  24. Miss Habel
    Miss Habel
    Apr 6, 2012

    Thank you so much! It always means so much to me when people get into monsters as I see them – I consider that the most important part of my work. I hope you enjoy the sequel, and good luck with your writing! :D

  25. Jessica
    Apr 19, 2012

    I just want to say I loved Dearly Departed!! Not many female authors who would want to write about such things. You are my inspiration!! I’ve wanted to write about zombies and monsters since I could read and because of you I have faith in doing so!! Thank you so much and I am eagerly awaiting Dearly Beloved!!!

  26. Miss Habel
    Miss Habel
    Apr 20, 2012

    Thank you so much! But you know, when it comes to reanimated corpses, I think women do a lot of revolutionary work – Frankenstein was written by a woman, after all! :D

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