On the assumption that Harcourt and my agent will eventually agree to terms for the third book, I've been working on coming up with things that could happen in it. Since it's going to follow the format of Life As We Knew It (Miranda's diary) and therefore be episodic (as was the dead and the gone), I can use some episodes. Otherwise it'll just end up ic. Us writers worry about such things (as opposed to worrying about whether our publishers and our agents will ever agree to terms).
This afternoon, I did something I regard as genuinely semi-clever. I got out my ARC copy of LAWKI (I'm very sentimentally attached to it) and skimmed through it to see how many episodes there were and how many pages I devoted to each. As I located an episode, I numbered it and wrote it down. For example, there's crazy shopping day and Miranda eats the chocolate chips and Dad and Lisa's visit. The biggest episode got divided by three, flu, stove backfires, flu. Including the first fourteen pages (which I labelled Prelude), I found twenty episodes, with the biggest gap between crazy shopping day and something I listed as Dan. There's no shortage of things happening in those pages, but nothing I regard as an episode (while I was writing LAWKI, I called the bigger episodes set pieces).
Then I made a list of things I'm thinking may happen in the third book (I really need a title- Starry Night, which I used to favor, is more a d&g title, and The World We Live In doesn't sound like Miranda). I'm pleased to say I had ten possible episodes already in mind. While things are sufficiently in flux that I can't say for sure all ten will end up getting written, I do have two big set pieces that I assume will- a tornado that knocks down Mrs. Nesbitt's house (I picture Mom walking over there and weeping uncontrollably, which is something Mom almost never did in LAWKI), and a trip to Julie's Fresh Air Fund family's home (Julie will almost definitely be the d&g character I bring over to LAWKI).
I'm still looking for characters to die, and after writing down my ten episodes, I came up with one. I pictured Miranda going first to Samantha's family's house, and finding it empty, and then going to Dan's family's house, and finding Dan's father still living there. Dan's mother will have died a couple of weeks before. Miranda invites him to dinner (telling Mom she won't eat the next day), but when Dan's father comes over, he brings a bag of food. He hasn't told the people who are delivering food that his wife has died, so he's still getting her food bags. I don't know how long he'll last, but I think he's going to kill himself.
Another thing I've been working on is when the action of Book Three will begin. LAWKI uses a 2005-06 calendar, so I looked up to see when Easter was in 2006. It was April 16 or thereabouts, so I'm going to start Book Three a day or two later. Miranda's family seems to be more Easter Bunny than church going, but Easter is such a religiously fraught holiday, it'd just be easier not to deal with it.
So that's where things are right now. My mind is working at least part time, which is a start. At some point, I'll listen to the audio book of d&g, and the before I begin writing Book Three, I'll reread LAWKI, so Miranda's voice will be fresh and familiar.
And maybe by the time I have twenty episodes figured out, my agent and Harcourt will have agreed to terms!