Thursday, July 15, 2010

For the Ladies: Terry McMillian’s Sequel to Waiting to Exhale is on the Way

For the Ladies: Terry McMillian’s Sequel to Waiting to Exhale is on the Way
Reader’s Tidbit
Preparing for a sequel

Call it ironic or just dumb luck that Soon After which is the sequel to my debut novel, Soon and Very Soon, releases the same month as Terry Mc Millian’s sequel to her hugely successful book-slash-movie, Waiting to Exhale. To say it’s long awaited is an understatement.
Getting to Happy comes after a fifteen year departure from the four female characters, Savannah, Gloria, Bernadine, and Robin. And, I thought two years was pushing it with my sequel. My Executive Editor, Joylynn Jossel, advised that I don’t put anymore time or another book between my debut novel, Soon and Very Soon, and its sequel. Because I am a lesser known author and because my characters, Willie and Vanessa Green haven’t graced the big screen, she worried that too much time will make my audience lose connection with the newlywed couple that decides to combine their churches.
In either instance I wonder how an author gets back into that same mind-space where those same characters are speaking, and in some cases, haunting you again. In my own pre-release promotions, I realized the readers have some preparing to do as well. When I tell friends and fans that the sequel is coming out in the early fall they tell me that they have to pick up the first installment that came out in 2007 and read it again to refresh their memory.
I recently found my copy of Waiting to Exhale in the basement of my mother’s house. It’s been that long. I loaned it to her to read and it never quite made it to my Terry Mc Millian shelf along with Mama, Disappearing Acts, How Stella Got Her Groove Back and most recently, The Interruption of Everything. With thousands of books that came out this year alone, I’m not sure I have time to devote to reading the beloved book again from cover to cover. Many questions crowd my mind as I prepare to pre-order Terry’s book with my own on an online retailer. Consider these things when
When and where does the second story pick up from the first book? I’m talking setting here. My title sort of gives that away. Not to let the cat out of the bag, but the cover sort of eludes to a fire that happens at the end of Soon and Very Soon. The story literally picks up, Soon After. In Getting to Happy the same amount of time has passed for the characters than the time it took the author to revisit them, 15 years. The diverse and dedicated friends find themselves in the thorough of mid life. Sometimes it’s fun to go to the first book and read at least the last couple of chapters to predict where the plot may go in a sequel.
Is this a stand alone sequel? Does the book include sufficient background information from the first book that the reader can understand the plot without gaping holes of understanding for the reader? Some authors do this better than others. I’ve read some sequels that are 60-75% re-cap. The preferred practice is to drop background information like breadcrumbs. My back cover summary gives no mention that Soon After is in fact a sequel . The rationale is that the publisher doesn’t want a reader to put back the current title because they haven’t read the first installment in an all or nothing deal at the bookstore.
Does the author plan this to be a part of a series? This is helpful for a reader to know if all the loose ends will be tied up for their favorite characters or do they have nine lives as in many adventure dramas and mysteries. I don’t know about Terry, but I never wanted to write a sequel, let alone, a mystery of sorts. I am a Christian Fiction writer with heaven, not the hell of crime scenes and jail in my view. But, I went there. Who knows, there may be a third installment. As the old church mothers put it, ‘Lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise.’
To make the distinction, Soon and Very Soon is being re-released in mass market paperback August 1st. Soon After is released August 30/ September 1st online and in bookstores nationwide. Terry Mc Millian’s Getting to Happy comes out September 7th.

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