I didn’t make it to 50,000 words this month nor did anyone in my NaNoWriMo MOOC. I don’t feel badly about this because I do have 13,000 words, or more than half of the opening act of my novel. The project is a sequel to Love Comes Later, which was released in paperback last month. Never a dull moment around here.
What happens now? I get people to read. Because so many of my books are deeply rooted in culture, and increasingly cultures that are not my own, I need a special kind of beta reader: a cultural “expert.” I have that word in quotes because this expert doesn’t necessarily have a PhD or publish in a particular area. Rather they are cultural expert informants: they are the characters I am writing about in their real lives.
That means this week I have sent my first 7 chapters into the hands of female Qatari university students because the main character of the sequel is Luluwa, a twentysomething fashion major who notices a strange man lurking around her family compound.
I’m biting my fingers until I hear back from my three teams of beta readers. But that’s what makes writing so exciting: you engage test readers to tell you what you got right and what you can improve on.
Stay tuned! In the meantime, if you haven’t read the original, get on it. Once the jinni shows up in the sequel, it will write itself!