Gratitude + Lola + Rube Goldberg Machines


Eighty-something comments here! So many more on Facebook, Livejournal, and Twitter! And the EMAIL!! I am overwhelmed with love. Thank you for the wonderful, wonderful, wonderful things you've said about my cover. For an author, especially a newbie nobody like myself, lemme tell ya:


Now that the excitement has died down (and thank you for making it exciting!), I'll move forward with my promise. I realized much, much later — like, ten minutes ago — that when I said I'd invent a new, fun announcement about my second novel with a BIG REVEAL, I'd actually shot myself in the foot. Because now you're expecting something.


Told you I wasn't thinking clearly.

So I don't really know how to do that, so instead I'll try my best to open up about Lola and the Boy Next Door. If you've been reading my blog for an extended period of time, you know Second Novel and I have a . . . rocky relationship. Pretty much every time I've mentioned it, I've used what can only be described as the Jerry Seinfeld "Newman" voice.


This book has kicked my butt, you guys.

I have spent a LOT of time over a course of several years fighting with it. And I have spent a LOT of time this year crying about it. I don't want to go into detail. I want to keep this happy! So I will simply explain it as this: Lola and I suffer from the Second Novel Curse.

If you're a writer who has written at least two books, you know what I'm talking about. And if you aren't . . . well . . . trust me. The second novel is always cursed. There are many, many boring reasons why this is so, and because they are boring — and heartbreaking — I'm stopping this paragraph now.*

Because I want to use this post to celebrate Lola and the Boy Next Door.

Lola is a GOOD, WEIRD, COOL book. The plot must remain a secret because: (A) I like to keep such things secret, and (B) It's still in the organic, muddy clay stage. The idea is there, but it'll take many more months of shaping and remolding before the true story emerges.

But here are some things I CAN tell you . . .

(1) It's a companion novel to Anna and the French Kiss.

This means it's not a direct this-happens-next sequel. The novel is firmly Lola's — thus, Lola gets the title! — and it can be enjoyed on its own. But there's a bit of character overlap, so it'll be enjoyed MORE if Anna is read first.

(2) No, I don't know when it will be published.

From what I understand, it's on track to be released a year-ish after Anna. Which would be awesome! But many factors could change this. One scenario: I turn in Lola and my editor says, "Er, no. Let's do something else." This happens frequently with second novels! (Second Novel Curse, remember?) I hope this doesn't happen. BUT IT COULD. A novelist's motto should be that of a scout: Be prepared.

(3) No, it doesn't take place in Paris.

But if I'm fortunate enough to get a contract someday for Third Novel (currently in "fledgling adorable baby first draft" status), you will see Paris again. Fourth Novel (currently in "have-two-intriguing-scenes and an interesting concept" status) is NOT a companion, but would appeal to the same audience. So even if my fab publisher is like, "Okay, Stephanie. These first two books were nice, but I think we're done." (BE PREPARED, remember??) Fourth Novel should be able to flourish somewhere. There's also a Fifth and a Sixth Novel hovering around in various stages of undress, but they are TOTALLY COMPLETELY unrelated. So I'm not sure why I'm mentioning them, other than I think they'd feel bad if I didn't.

(4) Writers are crazy.

See above paragraph.

(5) Wait, wasn't I supposed to be talking about Lola?

I love characters — characters make or break a story for me — and I'm proud of the strange crew I've assembled on Lola's pages. One of the most enjoyable things for me as a writer is to take someone who is a little absurd and make them relatable. Lola is PACKED with these people. It's fun. It's also challenging. But mainly it's fun.

Lola also does ("will do," someday, after more drafts) something else I love. There are many great types of novels, but perhaps my favorite type are the contemporary romances that FEEL magical. Real magic. Those places and moments and people and emotions that are so wondrous or strange that they make you realize how incredible real life is.

Because it is, isn't it?

First kisses, wishing on stars, secret gardens, dark chocolate with hidden cayenne pepper, the cycles of the moon, a lucky pair of shoes, music, holding hands, watching someone paint, memories triggered by the scent of crayons . . .

There are many wondrous and strange things packed into Lola's pages. Perhaps even some of the things I've just mentioned!

But definitely these:

Putting those images together actually made me teary! For every bad thing I have ever said about Lola and the Boy Next Door — and ohmygosh, that number must be in the thousands — the simple truth is this: I love it.

So that's what I can tell you about Second Novel.

I'll leave you with one final thing. In Lola, there's a character very, very, very dear to my heart who would find much in common with OK Go's latest video. (I didn't think it was possible to top their treadmill video, and I am OUTRAGEOUSLY THRILLED they proved me wrong.) So in that character's honor, here it is:

Real life magic, eh?

*If you're interested, someday I'll talk about the Second Novel Curse. Why it exists and what writers can do about it. Now would be grossly inappropriate for me to address that issue, as I'm still ensnared in the thick of it.


  1. I feel your second novel pain (my sequel is being a pain in the butt right now).

    There are going to be FOUR Anna-related novels? This is too good to be true! I'm way excited to learn more about Lola; it sounds like it's on its way to greatness!

    Also, I've already watched that video about 5 times today, but I think I'll watch it again. Awesome.

  2. Three ANNA-related novels! (If I'm lucky.) Sorry, I should make that more clear!! Fourth Novel is totally separate, it just has a similar feel.

    Good luck with your second novel. Argh. I feel your pain. :(

  3. Okay, the photo montage made ME tear up too! Oh, Lola. I'm sorry she's a pain, but I love her so dearly already!

  4. Natalie — Have I mentioned lately how unbelievably thankful and lucky I am to have you as an early reader? If not: THANK YOU. I LOVE YOU. DON'T EVER LEAVE ME.

  5. I'm so feeling this post right now.

    I'm in the middle of TOTALLY re-writing my 5th novel, which has a MC that also bears the name of Lola.

    These characters have caused me more pain and anguish then all of the rest of my characters combined. But I force myself through because I LOVE them. Also, I feel the world needs to meet Archer.

    Here's to characters that we love so much it hurts!

  6. My second novel sucked. I mean, embarrassingly bad. In retrospect, I am so glad it was rejected all over town. Does that mean I have avoided second novel curse with the second book in my book deal because technically it'll be my fifth novel since book deal book is fourth novel, first pubbed!

  7. Jade — *Lola high-five!* And, yes, it's the characters who've kept me going. I believe in them. I want to do right by them! Good luck with Archer & Fifth Novel. :)

    Daisy — YES. You've ABSOLUTELY gotten it out of your system!! No one deserves to go through Second Novel Curse again! *shudder*

  8. Oh Stephanie...you have no idea how happy you have just made me. I am right in the middle of Second Novel Curse myself (is it better or worse to go through this when first novel still hasn't sold?) and while I hate that ANYBODY has to experience it, I am so so so so so glad that I am not the only one wondering why, exactly, I thought this writing thing was ever any fun.

    It gets better, right? RIGHT???

  9. oh no I'm still in the "fledgling adorable baby first draft" part of book two. I can;t believe it will be harder than book 1!!

    Lola sounds great and I love that montage.

  10. Lola sounds awesome! Love the montage. Just think how much stronger and more confident you'll be once you get through her. The second novel curse is a gift once you come out on the other side!

  11. ugh every new book is difficult - the beginning is so tough but i love that feeling when you get going and it pours out of you.

  12. You have Nancy Drew novels in your beautiful montage--love!

    That video was amazing. I'm going to have to show it to my son and hope it doesn't give him any ideas that I regret later on.

  13. Ohmygosh, that montage makes me want to read the book immediately!

    And I love the OK Go video - can't wait to show it to my son. There's even a typewriter in it! xo


  14. Hey! Been reading your blog for a while but I just HAD to post this time.

    I'm in the middle of my second novel too. It sucks major cojones, so yes, I'd LOVE a blog post on the second novel curse.

    Also, I love OK GO's new video!!! Thanks for sharing it


  15. I love the OK Go video. Here's hoping that book 2's curse is cracked.

  16. Maybe after Anna comes out, you'll be saying something like this about Lola:


  17. So I concluded that there will be cross-over between Anna & Lola, right?
    I always love such thing esp when it happens to those in which I'm very fond of, i.e. like when Grey's Anatomy's characters and Private Practice's cast did in one of their episodes. It was so cool to see they were doing cross-over, because it seemed so real, and it made me drowned into the story. I love it.

    And I definitely have no doubt that what you'd do to Lola will bring the same effect to your readers. And I, for one, can't wait to drown myself into your story.

  18. Hmmm...

    I totally wrote a post about how curses can be broken and Blogger ATE it.

    (I guess blogger doesn't think things should be too easy on us writers...)

    Anyway, as you know by now, every book has it's own way of entering the world...much like a baby. Some are lovely pregnancies and hideous labors, some make you throw up for months, then slide right out.

    But all babies are beautiful.

    Love the collage of your beautiful new baby. a picture IS worth a thousand words.

    Can't wait!


  19. What a fabulous post! And I hear about this second novel curse a lot - more from peeps who have 2 book deals though... I think it's because they are under a deadline to produce one and can't just piddle for a couple of years "finding the story." That being said, I am so excited and intrigued by your stories that I can not WAIT for them to be here!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Hurry Lola, Hurry!!!!!!!!

  20. I am in the throes of Second Novel Curse right now. It's doubly harder, I think, when First Novel got me an agent, but not an editor. I keep feeling like I'm doing the wrong thing, perhaps, and should take up gardening, instead. Oh, and I feel like this novel, which I hate-but-love, will NEVER FREAKING END. I mean, that I will not finish it. UGH!!!!!

    I love your cover, and the fact that this book will be long enough I can sink my teeth into it for a good long time.

    Oh, and I wanted to say that I have a new actor crush. The hottest guy out there on TV? The one who makes ME swoon (which has never happened before)? Rupert Penry-Jones. *swoon* *fans self* Did you see him in The 39 Steps? OMG.

    Now. Off to work on my cursed Second Novel.

  21. I forgot! I have ALL of those Nancy Drew books on my shelf in my "art" room. Yay for Nancy Drew!!!

  22. Is Anna your very FIRST book written ever? Or do you have another (or others) 'under the bed'?

  23. Your first book (and cover) sound divine. Have you sold the movie rights yet? I can see it in lights already...

    PS: Loved reading this post. I haven't finished my first novel yet, but can already imagine that future tense vibe of the "2nd novel" looming...

  24. , I've already watched that video about 5 times today, but I think I'll watch it again. Awesome.
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  25. This is weird posting two years later but...


    Me (obviously from the future, its 2012 here) loves LOLA a whole crap ton. That colleague is freaking amazing.

    From left to right: their houses, Cricket's pants and shoes, Lindsey's mystery novels, Nora's tea leaves, Lola's make up, Lola's dress, Calliope, Cricket's machines, Max

    Also PS I am sorry that Second Novel caused you so much trouble but...Confession? I kind of liked it better that Anna *squeak* I know! It was mostly because of Cricket...LOVE CRICKET

    1. Aww, thank you! This comment made my week.

      I hadn't looked at this post in awhile (gosh, probably since Lola was published!), and it's surreal and fun to see this collage again. I'm happy you like it! And I'm happy to hear you that enjoyed it even more than Anna. Thank you. :-)