It's been an interesting journey, writing Engaged to an Alien Pop Star. This is the first ever sequel that I've written over the years, even after writing about 8-10 books (including poetry collections).
Sequels in a trilogy are already hard enough, when you think about it. A sequel must keep old readers interested even though they know everyone. It must keep new readers interested, even though they don't know anyone. Oh, and it also needs to set events up for a third book. No big deal!
This book was challenging in more ways than just by being a sequel, though. I started writing an early version of it almost two years ago, the day after I finished Dating an Alien Pop Star. After about 70 pages of enjoyable, funny content, I realized that what I had written was better suited for a third book than a second, and I temporarily scrapped the project. After all, real life was taking over, and I had just written two books back to back in the space of about 9 months (Unlove Spell, and Dating an Alien Pop Star).
I spent the first half of 2015 living in Columbus, OH. The art scene there was cool, the food was great, the people were fascinating and colorful. I worked as a waitress at a dive bar, soaking in all of the grease, rampant sexual harassment, and crazy drama that the place had to offer. It wasn't a great job, maybe, but I really enjoyed the work, and it left me plenty of time every day for writing.
My writing during that time was awash with the new life I was living, with the people I'd met, the surreal nightclub experiences I took part in, the daydreams I was allowing to grow bigger and bigger in my head. My writing became both introspective, but also maniacally huge, reaching out into the very tendrils of my known universe.
The second half of 2015 was spent in my favorite city in the world, New York City. I soaked up life there, too. Every day was a new story, a new experience. I didn't write much while I was there, but I did sign the dotted line on something very exciting... a contract for Dating an Alien Pop Star, the first book in the Alien Pop Star series.
After a 48 hour editing bender that launched me from couch to couch in various Starbucks locations across Brooklyn, and then to a red high table in a quiet Five Guys location near Union Square, I realized something.
I needed to write a sequel. Within a few months.
In early January, I had to make a difficult decision and return to New Hampshire to see my doctors here about a sinus infection, and write Engaged. Depression and bad health colored everything, though, including the writing. Some scenes leaped onto the page, others crawled. Some had to be dragged like a cat on a leash. I had to restart the book several times, delete chapters at a time, carve things up and move them around. It was stressful even before the deadline loomed, but especially after.
The revision stage is one of my favorite stages, because it takes whatever you managed to write, and makes it amazing. I'm so thankful to be in that stage now, and for the first time since the beginning of the year, I'm looking forward to writing again. The third book will surely be a challenge. I can't expect it to be as fast, fun, and super easy to write as the first book. But I also don't think it will be the stressful learning experience that the sequel was.
Even after a lifetime of wanting to be an author, over ten years of hard work to make that happen, and five years of professional writing experience, there's always something new to learn. This book was not like any of the others, especially the book before it, but I can't wait for the adventure the next book takes me on.