Ah, Sweet Suprise!

As I started to approach my word count goal for the first draft of my next book, I noticed something both exhilarating and worrying. I was exhilarated by the story and the many nuances the characters were showing me, by the way the plot was developing, by how quickly the words were coming.
But I found myself becoming disconcerted as I realized one inescapable fact: I was only close to finishing part one. Well, I told myself, that's just going to become two-thirds of the book. But how could two-thirds of a book equal part one? So I decided I would just find a natural breaking point a little earlier, and break the book into three parts. After all, I'd already done that with two of my other books. Why not with this one? But as I searched page after page, I saw that there was no natural breaking point. Fine. Then I'll write one. But that didn't work. The ideas just kept sealing together. I couldn't even figure out how to add in more POVs to what I already had.
All of which meant one thing: part one really had to be that long. And if part one equaled my estimate of what I thought the entire book would be, then there was only one choice left... write two books.
Though I unintentionally wrote a sequel to my first zombie book, I hadn't actually planned to write any series other than my long-planned trilogy of trilogies (which I plan to start releasing in 2015). After talking it over with a few good friends, the conclusion was obvious. I was on a tight deadline and needed to get the first draft done by a rapidly approaching date. There just wasn't enough time to write the equivalent of part one's length. Sure, I'd have to add some material to the second book to make it longer, but ideas immediately started coming to me for that, signaling that I'd made the right decision.
But what about the title? I whined. I'd picked it forever ago. How could I change it? Or add a totally new one? Would it still apply to the first half of the story? Then it hit me. Subtitles!! Yes, that's the way to go.
Looking back, I realize that the biggest lesson I learned was to be flexible. Okay, I already knew that, but it was a huge surprise to realize I was writing a much longer story that I'd originally planned. So it wasn't just about being flexible with the story or the characters, but with the writing process itself. I didn't (and still don't) want to write a second book - it was SO NOT in the plan for next year. Or the year after. But I owe it to the my readers and myself to write the best story possible. If that means longer, then so be it.
So here is another excerpt from my newly rebranded book,



When I finally awoke, my first thought was that I’d somehow ended up in the same place I’d just been dreaming about. But as I gazed blearily up at the sky, I knew it wasn’t the same one from the memories. The air, too, felt normal, which meant I wasn’t on another planet. Or at least, wasn’t on the only other one I’d ever been to.
With that thought, images began rushing through my head of my final moments before unconsciousness. Getting fired upon… Kean shooting out the lights… reaching the node… a voice… familiar voice…
My voice sounded cracked in the still air as my eyes shot wide open. I tried to scramble into a sitting position, but my body had trouble obeying, my limbs weak. It was the worst electrical backlash I’d ever felt. Part of me wondered if I should’ve survived it.
Just then, Amma came into view with Tasoula.
Tasoula launched herself at me, her round, perfect face alight with joy.
“Baby girl!”
I hugged her tightly, smiling with relief to see her obviously in good health.
“Mama, you were sleeping a long time. You missed our fight.”
Her words jerked me out of the sweetness of enjoying a simple moment with her, returning me immediately to my responsibilities. I pushed her back gently and looked up into her guileless face. Still so pure and innocent despite all she’d been through.
“Fight? Sweet oblivion, how long was I sleeping?”
Amma settled down on the ground next to me.
“You sleep almost three days. We think,” she added belatedly.
“Three days! But… and what do you mean, you think?”
“There’s no sun, Mama. Just clouds.”
Just clouds… were we still on Earth? I glanced around – trees, grass, rocks. Everything looked like it belonged on Earth, though it was brown and sickly-looking.
Where were we?
“Oy thought oy ‘eard ye!”
Kean emerged from around the corner of the boulder at which I was apparently situated, gun held laxly in his hands, a wide smile on his face. I smiled up at him in return, grateful to see him also in apparent good health. He walked up to where we were gathered and squatted next to me.
“Been sleeping on the job, eh?”
We laughed at the old joke, but movement caught my eye as another figure emerged from behind the boulder. I looked over, confused at the extra person. He was dressed in all black, the material in better shape than any I’d seen in a long time. My eyes traveled upwards, noticing the excellent musculature. My gaze settled on the face, on the red glare shining from deep inside the pupil.
“Kill it!” I whispered. Then again, louder. “Kill it!”
Kean glanced behind himself then turned back to me.
“Dena, wait –”
“Kill IT!” I screamed, struggling to move away, get away from the thing approaching us. Why wasn’t anyone else doing anything?
“Run Tasoula! Kean, your gun! Kill it!”
The thing kept walking towards us. Desperate, I tried grabbing the gun out of Kean’s hands.
“Kill –”
“Dena, wait!” Kean gripped the gun, keeping me from drawing it. I tried to stand, but Amma and Kean pushed me down. Frantic, I thrashed against them. Kean wrapped his arms around me. Though not particularly big, he was strong enough to hold me down as the other moved closer.
“Dena, listen, listen –”
“No! No, you don’t… understand…”
The exhausted weakness I’d felt upon waking returned. I started to slip into unconsciousness.
“Dena, it’s okay.”
Amma spoke up.
“This one is safe, child.”
Desperately, I tried to make them understand.
“No, he… it… kill…”
My world went black.


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