Marching Along….to March 2021

I can’t believe we’re writing about what’s next for us this week! You know what that means, right?! It means we’re almost ready to hand over the reins here on The Debutante Ball to the class of 2021. It’ll happen at the end of August, and I’m so excited! Here’s why:

  • Next year’s writers are undoubtedly going to be awesome and fascinating. The applications are incredibly strong.
  • My debut year ends. I don’t know about you, but I kind of hate being new in a job. I feel like my outfits are always wrong, I’m unusually and embarrassingly sweaty, and I’m constantly wondering if I’ve made enough friends. The second year in a job is SO. MUCH. BETTER. because I can mostly be myself. When I’m not new anymore, I can be calmer, more rational, less nervous, and more genuine.
  • I’ll go back to writing on my own blog, which is sixteen years old, and which I love and miss.
  • It’ll be time to start promoting my new book! It’s my second book, I already wrote it, and it’s coming out in March (hence the title of this post — very clever, I know).

Here’s a little more about how that second book came to be, AND a big announcement about what’s next after that:

When my agent sold MINOR DRAMAS to Berkley in November 2018, they also bought a second book. I hadn’t started that project and had no idea what it would be about. “Not a problem,” Berkley said. “It’ll be due in a year.”

A YEAR?! I’d spent three years on MINOR DRAMAS, and until June of 2019, I still had a full-time teaching job. I’ve written before about how I was lucky enough that my advance allowed me to step away from that position to focus on writing. (I’ve also written about how I’m going back this coming fall. I’ll be teaching third grade until Thanksgiving, covering for a teacher on maternity leave.)

In between editing and promoting MINOR DRAMAS, I wrote ARE WE THERE YET? It’s for “the same audience” as MINOR DRAMAS. The two books have some things in common: the multi-POV structure, the humor and lightness, the suburban Minnesota setting, and the mix of adult and kid characters. ARE WE THERE YET? also has some differences. For one, I think it’s more emotional. It focuses on a family drama rather than a community drama. Whereas the kids in MINOR DRAMAS are fairly perfect as their parents behave badly, the kids in ARE WE THERE YET? make big mistakes that impact their parents’ reputations in the community. I definitely grew as a writer as I worked on my sophomore effort, and I’m really excited to share it with the world.

So, that’s the first “what’s next.” The next “what’s next” is scarier and even more exciting. My agent and I assembled a proposal for books three and four, presented them to my brilliant editor at Berkley, and guess what? She bought them. She BOUGHT them! This means I get to work with the same incredible team–no being new, no unusual sweat, no (or, let’s be honest–LESS) worrying about whether or not people like me.

Book 3 is called OVERTIME. The first draft is nearly written. Of course, it’s an utter disaster, but I’ve got until March to fix it. And the fourth book? I have a little seed of an idea, but can I get back to you on that in the spring? It’ll grow and develop, and I don’t have all the answers right now.

There will be more what’s nexts! The first of these is an impending cover reveal for ARE WE THERE YET? which I plan to share first with my newsletter subscribers. If you want to be one of those (and keep track of me as I phase out here at the Deb Ball), I’d love to have you.

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Kathleen West

Kathleen West is the author of the forthcoming novel, Minor Dramas & Other Catastrophes, out 2/4/20 from Berkley. She lives in Minneapolis with her family.