Thursday, January 21, 2016

The Second Novel

This weekend, I published my second novel. It's a stand-alone YA horse racing novel, although I feel like I should say that I originally thought Stay the Distance would also be a stand-alone. I just started working on the sequel to Stay the Distance this month--entitled All Heart.

So, what's the use in saying it's going to be a stand-alone, right? Clearly it's going to have a sequel, and of course I'm planning it as I write All Heart, because I can't do one thing at a time. I must do all the things at a time. It makes it more interesting and less likely that I'll get anything done quickly that way.

But let's get down to the topic: second novels. I am lucky to say that people seem to have generally decided to like my first novel. Stay the Distance was a first person perspective on a girl neck deep in horse racing, dealing with her mother's abandonment, and trying to decide if the course she's always been on is the course she should keep following. Finding Daylight, the second novel, is a bit different. Here's the synopsis:

Georgie Quinn and the filly Sweet Bells are an unbeatable team. When they win the Breeders’ Cup Classic against colts, the world can’t seem to get enough. Overnight, Georgie becomes the face of horse racing, and Sweet Bells becomes its queen.

Although they’re the morning line favorites, Georgie feels like she’s barely keeping her head above water. Her parents’ farm is a crumbling has-been, her jockey career consumes her time, and Harris Armstrong, heir to Tupelo Stud and grandson of Sweet Bells’ owner, won’t forgive her for telling a lie that kept her family together as the truth ripped his apart.

Georgie refuses to apologize, so she’s stunned when Harris asks her to ride his new colt. The most tenuous partnership in racing has begun. One that threatens to swallow Georgie whole.

Safe to say, this novel takes things a bit further than I allowed myself to go in Stay the Distance. The stakes are higher, the romance less innocent, and the family drama acted out on a national stage. It was an intense writing experience, and vastly different from my previous book since I decided--out of nowhere, I admit--to write Finding Daylight in third person. The tenses are also different. It's just a radically different book, wholly unconnected to my first, and because I'm me, I decided this will be my second novel.

And second novels are tricky. A debut builds an audience, and the second novel will either keep them there or lose them. Sure, I might gain more people with a completely different story, but I might disappoint people by not immediately continuing to tell the story they know they want. All Heart is coming, I guarantee it, but I really wanted to write Finding Daylight first. I wanted that new challenge, and I hope that it works.That's all I can really do as I writer, find the shiny new idea and try to write the heck out of it.

So, I'm not going to fear the second novel. I should actually probably buckle down and get working on the third. I want All Heart to be out by late summer/early fall, which means I need to get moving on writing that first draft.

In the meantime, Finding Daylight is available on Amazon right here. Print will be available soon!

Mara Dabrishus is an author and librarian at a small college in Northeast Ohio. Horse racing is her first great love, but for the past several years she's ridden dressage, learning how to spiral in, half halt, and perform the perfect figure eight. Her second novel (gasp!), Finding Daylight, was released in January 2016. For more information, please visit

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