Baruch Hashem (Blessèd is God), I finished my WIP on 29 April and am now using the rest of the material from the original long short story/piece of backstory as a second volume. I changed the working title from And Jakob Limped to And Jakob Flew the Fiend Away. Since the first book took its title from Shakespeare’s Sonnet 145, a beautiful tribute to his wife Anne, I’d like to title the second book after another favorite Sonnet, 29, which is a very popular wedding reading. Perhaps And the Lark Arose from Sullen Earth.
I was planning to just write through to the end of the material and outline, and then perhaps see if there were a natural, fitting break somewhere in there. After all, I’m no stranger to writing long historical sagas and sticking up for the fact that not all books have storylines that can be fully developed and resolved within 300 pages. But I really do have my heart set on querying this as young adult (albeit historical young adult, which is a much different breed from the more common YA books of today), and I was trying to keep length in mind.
I was thrilled when the most natural, perfect break opened up, and in such a way as to tie the ending in with the title’s significance. This is really one of my favoritest endings I’ve written to date, so full of hope, satisfaction, fulfillment. And though there are still some things up in the air, particularly how Jakob’s wife Rachel is waiting for him in America and doesn’t even know he’s coming earlier than expected, it doesn’t end on a cliffhanger.
It pisses me off when I read a book that ends with so much unresolved, lots of loose ends, an infuriating cliffhanger. Even if a book is the first of a planned trilogy or series, or if there’s a sequel coming, you should ALWAYS tie things up by the end. Each book should have its own storyline, and even if there are plot threads meant to be continued, at least resolve them satisfactorily or don’t make them into a huge cliffhanger. That’s the main reason why I eventually wised up and stopped querying Parts I and II of Adicia’s story as Book One of a pretended trilogy. It just doesn’t work split up, and though Part IV and the Epilogue read like their own book, they really don’t make much sense without the first three-quarters of the book.
So I ended it a tad bit above the 120,000-word mark, taking out stuff like asterisks denoting section breaks in chapters, chapter titles, and the titles of the parts of the book. The perfect length for a story covering five and a half years and only one main character, with closer to third-person limited than I usually go. Normally I’m all about third-person omniscient. People are used to historicals being longer anyway. I’d wonder at any historical novel meant for people over the age of 12 only being 300 pages.
I don’t know how long the second volume will be, but I’m pretty sure it won’t be longer than the first book. It’s going to have its own set of storylines, and only cover a bit under a year, with an Epilogue in Hebron in the fall of 1981. This second volume will not only just have the material from the original long short story, but also some really good plotlines I thought of relating to Jakob’s first year in America.
This time, Jakob and Rachel will both be the protagonists, much like Lyuba and Ivan are the double protagonists of my Russian novels. While Jakob is learning how to get along in America, and realizing how big a gap there is between him and Americans who only had a homefront, not an occupation and a war on their soil, Rachel is struggling to find a midwife. She’s shocked to learn that almost no women in America still birth at home and use midwives, and won’t hear of having a male doctor or being knocked out in the hospital like Barry’s wife Jet.
Rachel also can’t believe how Americanized Jet has become, so unlike a normal Dutch woman who keeps her last name and views birth as a normal physiological process. I’m going to have the two couples move to Cape May, and Rachel and Jet will join a group of young wives who meet while their husbands are at work. Rachel will be the most liberal, progressive woman in the group, shocking them with her views on subjects such as surname autonomy, birthing practices, and a woman enjoying sex of all kinds. Many people outside the group will also have difficulties with this feminist woman ahead of her time, at least by American standards.
Oh, and on his third day in America, while he was still in New York, Jakob racked up a huge credit bill at Macy’s and a Judaica store. He’s also going to buy a Delahaye car on credit once he’s in New Jersey, and houses for both himself and Rachel and for his mother Luisa. Now he’ll have to work extra-hard to pay off all these bills he was so flippant about before he realized that America’s vast riches aren’t freely given to everyone.
After this, I’ll have to finally get back to poor neglected Justine. I’m really eager to write the dramatic chapter “Sing Blue Silver Snowstorm,” and I can’t get to that penultimate chapter overnight!
Other progress reports: