June 26, 2017

June Book Reviews

June Book Reviews

It's time for this month's book reviews, where you can learn what books I read this month, plus what I liked and what I didn't. I actually read a lot of books since the last post (mostly because a bunch where due back at the library and couldn't be renewed any more, but who's mentioning that?). My Goodreads read list has 18 new books on it between the last post and this one. Two were graphic novels and a few were shorter stories, but still.

Anyway, I read so many good books this month, I'm going to up the best books list from two to three. I'll also be linking the other books to my Goodreads reviews so you can see what I thought about them, if you want to. On to the reviews!


Best Books


Splendors and Glooms- Laura Amy Schlitz

My Rating: 4 1/2 stars

What I Liked:

• Characters. This book has three main characters- Clara, Lizzie Rose, and Parsefall. They were all great and lots of fun. I especially liked Lizzie Rose. I could empathize with her struggle to get Parsefall to behave. Schlitz also had several other characters that fell more in the gray area.

• Despicable villains. I do love a good villain you can just hate. Both of the villains in here were evil and deceptive. Each got what they deserve in the end.

• Puppets! I've loved puppets and marionettes, like this book has, since a young age. There's just something so magical about them. This book shows a behind the scenes look at them, which is fun.

• Beautiful writing. This book is a great mix of historical fiction and fantasy. The kind with just a touch of magic. I've always liked that in a book. Schlitz is great at writing beautiful prose.

What I Didn't:

• Parsefall. Sorry, anyone who liked him, but I think I have too many brothers to really enjoy his character. That's why I sympathize with Lizzie Rose. Boys can be impossible to control.


The Valiant- Lesley Livingston

My Rating: 4 stars

What I Liked:

• Fallon. Fallon is the daughter of a tribal king in what will later be Great Britian, who gets stole from her homeland and sold into slavery. I loved watching her character mature over the course of the book and hold her own against the other people. She had great flaws and lots of spirit.

• Girl power. This story is about female gladiators. Did you even know that was a thing? (I didn't.) Fallon is in a gladiator school full of females who can kick your butt and it's awesome. It also didn't, as far I noticed, have any female-female romance, which was refreshing.

• Elka. Fallon's best friend is another slave. She's sassy and amazing.

• The fighting. I thought the fighting was well done. The gladiators fight with unusual weapons, which is great to see. Fallon fights with two swords, Elka with a spear. The author was very good at describing the fights in the arena as well.

• Historical setting. It's set in ancient Rome, obviously, and I thought it was interesting. I could get a real feel for Rome and what it looked like to a slave.

What I Didn't:

• Gory bits. There was a bit near the end where a group eats someone's heart and Fallon sees it. I thought it was gross and unnecessary. I may have missed something, but I didn't see how it tied into the plot either.

• Romance subplot. Cai, the Roman soldier Fallon falls in love with, only seemed to get in the way of the plot to me. Not that I didn't like him, or the romance, I only felt the story could have done without it.


• The cover. Don't get me wrong, it's a great cover. But every time I looked at it, all I saw was Lady Sif from the Thor movies. Anyone else agree with me?


Roses- G. R. Mannering

My Rating: 4 stars

What I Liked:

• Beauty and the Beast retelling. That's basically the whole reason I picked up this book. I'm a sucker for anything Beauty and the Beast. I felt this was a great retelling, keeping important elements, but adding enough originality to make it new. Beast especially was well done, as he was mean and beastly like in the original fairy tale.

• Beauty. She's a girl who looks unusual in her part of the country, and is described as having white hair and silvery skin. Because of this, everyone hates her. Beauty was a wise girl and I really liked her character.

• Worldbuilding. I felt like this world might be Africa inspired, but with green, lush grassland. It was something I'd never seen before, and I loved it. There was lots of political drama too.

What I Didn't:

• Confusing at times. I didn't understand everything about the world. Especially the politics, but that's okay. Maybe the author didn't want you to understand.

• Prose was a bit flowery. Most of the time I liked the prose, but sometimes it could be a bit over the top.

Worst Books


Queen of Hearts- Colleen Oakes

My Rating: 2 1/2 stars

What I Liked:

• The cover. It looks like a real playing card, which I thought was quite clever. It's got a great design.

• Wonderland, sometimes. This is the whole reason got an extra half star. There were some great quirky Wonderland touches, like pink snow or a sea of flowers, that were nice.

What I Didn't:

• Plot. Because there wasn't one. The story just meandered all over the place, with no point that I could see. Not good.

• The characters. I didn't like one character in this book. Not even the main character. Harsh, but true. They all seemed cruel. Dinah wasn't misunderstood at all. The only thing she misunderstood is that the boy she likes has feelings for her. He totally didn't.

• Basically everything else. This was a cruel Wonderland, where they have a yearly beheading. They keep people locked in towers that kill them. The people were coarse and heartless. I didn't like any of it.


Spinning Starlight- R. C. Lewis

My Rating: 3 1/2 stars.

What I Liked:

• It's based off the Wild Swans. You don't see this fairy tale used very often for retellings, so I enjoyed that. Except for a point that comes in later.

• The reason Liddi, the MC, couldn't speak. In this version, she had an implant in her throat, put there by the bad guy, that would blow up her brothers if she spoke. I thought it was a clever way to update her inability to speak.

• Liddi's brothers. She has seven brothers. They're great fun, more fun than her I must say.

What I Didn't:

• Not well based off the source material. You know the part where the princess had to stitch shirts of star flowers to free her brothers? It kind of disappeared in this retelling, and that's the biggest thing about this fairy tale. I think the portals were supposed to be that, but I couldn't really tell. Disappointing.

• Hard to understand. I couldn't understand the science in this book. Or a lot of the worldbuilding. I think the author could have done better at explaining, or simplified things a bit more.

• Liddi seemed self-centered. She was constantly thinking about herself. It may have even been the reason she rescued her brothers at all. I liked parts of her personality, and not others.

Notable Mention


Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant- Tony Cliff

My Rating: 4 stars

This book features one of my new favorite female protagonists, Delilah Dirk. She's amazing and ready for any adventure. In this first book in the graphic novel series, she gains her traveling companion, Mister Selim. It's written like Sherlock Holmes, with the sidekick narrating. Read it if you want extreme sarcasm, adventure, and thievery.

Other Books Read

The Curse of Maleficent- Elizabeth Rudnick (4 stars)
Mutation- Roland Smith (4 stars, but a disappointing ending)
The Crown of Fire- Tony Abbott (4 stars)
Cruel Crown- Victoria Aveyard (2 1/2 stars)
The Invention of Hugo Cabret- Brian Selznick (4 1/2 stars)
The Hunger Games- Suzanne Collins (4 stars)
Catching Fire- Suzanne Collins (3 1/2 stars)
Mockingjay- Suzanne Collins (4 stars)
Wire and Nerves- Marissa Meyer (3 1/2 stars)
Beheld- Alex Flinn (4 stars)
The Lost Girl of Astor Street- Stephanie Morrill (4 stars)
The Runaway- Alison Hart (3 stars)

Let's talk! What books have you read this month? Which did you love and which did you hate? Tell me in the comments.

June 22, 2017

#RebelliousWriting: Why We Need Good Books

#RebelliousWriting: Why We Need Good Books

I had originally planned a picture post on my family's North Carolina trip for today, but since that trip got pushed off, I have something different for you. Recently, I became aware of a movement called Rebellious Writing, started by Gray Cox.

This isn't talking about rebelling against your parents or anything. Instead, it's about rebelling against the normal in YA books. The movement is to encourage writers of teen books, teens especially, to not put things in their books like swearing and sex. This is something I agree to with my whole heart.

So today I'm going to talk about why we need good fiction (something I feel strongly about). I'll also give you some suggestions of authors and books to try that are good and clean. This post is definitely a rant, from a Christian point of view, and rambles a lot. You have been warned.


Why I'm Passionate About This

Writing clean, good novels has always been something that I feel the urge to do very deeply. It started when I first got into teen books and realized just how much crap was out there. If we tried to take out all the books that weren't worth reading, our libraries would probably be half the size they are.

My sensitivity towards reading good books probably came from my parents. When I was younger, they wouldn't let me check out books from the library without their approval. Thus, I read fairly safe books as a child. In fact, I think I read more classics as a kid than I did normal fiction. That mentality of not reading books I wouldn't want my family to see has stuck with me to this day.

I've written a post before about what I don't like to see in the books I read. Some of them, like excessive gore and violence, are a more personal thing. I just don't enjoy reading that sort of thing. But other ones, like sex, cursing, and glorifying evil things, are something that no one should read.

It's been sad lately, because I see more and more things like that slipping into middle grade novels. One book I saw was about a girl had crushes on boys and girls, and another on a boy who was pretending to be a girl. Thankfully, swearing and sex have remained mostly out of MG novels, but who knows how long it may be before they arrive too?

Once I started reading YA books, I decided that I want to write books that are good for teens to read. Do I have to shove my thoughts in readers faces? No, but I can write things that give people good things to think about and show them examples of good behavior.

The Reason People Need Good Fiction

The world has made it acceptable to have swearing and sex in everything. They make it seem okay to drink and do drugs because it's cool. When they glorify things like that, it says to young people that doing that is good.

That's why we need good fiction full of characters acting in a way we want people to act. Books and movies have so much influence. We, as creators of them, should use that influence to change people's minds and hearts. Instead of saying bad stuff is okay, show it how it really is. Wrong and sinful.

Yes, doing this may make it harder to get published the traditional route. But today, there are many other options. As Christians especially, we should strive to get our work out there and into the hands of people who need to hear the message we have. A message of hope and light in this dark world. A message saying you don't have to follow the ways of the world. There's a better path.

What bothers me even more than people saying bad things are good, are people who claim to be Christians that put bad things in their books and glorify it. It hurts every time I see something like that. Actions speak louder than words, and if you say you're a Christian, but your writing proves otherwise, something needs to change.

So please, make the choice to use your novels, movies, and anything else you create to shine a light in the world and point people in the right direction. Don't lead them astray by saying sex, swearing, and being gay is right. People may hate on you but it's the truth and we should be willing to stand up and say it.

Reading Suggestions

I know how hard it is to find a good book these days. And I don't just mean one with a good plot or characters. One that's really wholesome. So here a few suggestions of authors and books to try if you're looking for some good fiction.

• N. D. Wilson. He's one of my favorite authors, and a Christian to boot. He's written several series and everything he writes is awesome, if sometimes a little scary. He has really been an inspiration to me in my own writing as I struggled with writing fantasy and being a Christian.

• C. S. Lewis. Only the most famous Christian author of all time. In my book anyway. He's written many works, his most famous being The Chronicles of Narnia. If you want some more theological books, try some of his other works. (I suggest The Screwtape Letters or Mere Christianity.) Try his space trilogy too.

The Soul Chronicles. Only the first book in this series is out so far, but I already love it. It's good and reminds me of the way I want to write my own novels.

Those are only a few suggestions. I'd love to hear others in the comments, so please share. Someday, I hope my fiction will be on a list like this.

Also, as a follow up to this post, I'll be starting a series next month on relationships in writing. It will be about how to write good relationships, whether it's between family, friends, or couples. Stay tuned to learn more.

Let's talk! Are you a #RebelliousWriter? What are your thoughts on using your writing to glorify good? What are your favorite clean books? Tell me in the comments.

June 19, 2017

Character Breakdown: Judy Hopps from Zootopia

Character Breakdown: Judy Hopps from Zootopia

First, I didn't realize how many Disney themed posts I had planned for this month. I would apologize, but I'm a major Disney fan, so I'm not really sorry. Second, this is a new post I'm going to try. It's called Character Breakdown, because in it I'm going to pick a character and take them apart (not literally) to see what makes them such a good character.

Today our character is Judy Hopps, the protagonist from Zooptopia. She is amazing, which is why I picked her, and she and Nick make such a great team. There are mild spoilers for the movie, so don't read this if you haven't watched it. In the breakdown, we'll look at five things- personality, virtues, flaws, skills, and what makes her interesting. Let's get started!

Personality


• Cheerful. Judy is a character who always sees the glass as half full. She looks on the bright side and always tries to find something good about the situation, even if there are times she can't.

• Outgoing. I would definitely say Judy is an extrovert. She loves to meet new people, try new things, and have fun.

• Dreamer. Judy was the kid who wanted to be the first bunny police officer. Better than that, she goes and does it. Even though everyone said she couldn't, she made it happen anyway. Judy is always willing to dream hard and work harder.

Virtues


• Big-hearted. One of the reasons Judy became an officer is because she wanted to make the world a better place. She's kind and, because she's a prey creature, she's always looking out for the little animals.

• Tough. While she is sweet, Judy can also be the toughest bunny you've ever seen. She even manages to outfox Nick Wilde. (See what I did there?) That's helpful because she is a police officer.

• Determined. When Judy decides to pursue something, she sees it through and does her best to accomplish it. Whether that's becoming a police officer or finding the missing mammals, she is determined to succeed.

Flaws


• Prejudiced. When Judy discovers about the night howlers, her initial conclusion is that it must be predators reverting to their savage ways. She announces this without thinking about the repercussions or her own friend, a fox. In part, this is because she was raised to think predators are dangerous. But she could have also avoided this if she wan't so quick to point blame.

• Naive. Judy is also naive at the beginning of the film. She has too many stars in her eyes to see the truth. Nick dupes her at first because of her country bunny naivety. She overcomes this flaw by the end while still maintaining her happy personality, which is great.

Skills


• Cop training. Judy went through police academy and passed with high grades. The skills she learned there are useful for the rest of the film as she battles the bad guys and faces various dangers.

• Daughter of a farmer. While she doesn't have a lot of farmer in her, Judy's family business does come in handy twice during the films climax. Once, as her father reveals the true mean of "nigh howler" and again with the produce in the truck she borrows.

What Makes Her Interesting


• Background. She's been raised in the country with hundreds of siblings and overcautious parents. They've raised her to be wary around predators, but especially foxes. That's what starts the whole conflict of the film. The way she's raised makes her suspect Nick even when he's not doing anything, just because he's a fox.

• Willingness to admit wrong. This is one of my favorite things about the dark night of the soul part of the film. Judy learns her conclusion is completely wrong and she has blamed hundreds of innocent animals for something they had no control over. She goes back to Nick and says she was wrong and she's sorry. She doesn't make any excuses and she doesn't expect to be forgiven. That is beautiful, and something we should see more characters do.

• Normal friendship with a male character. Despite the multitude of fan art trying to say otherwise, Judy and Nick aren't romantically involved. For one thing, they're two different species. Think about it, people. I liked Judy and Nick's relationship because they are just friends and they're happy that way. I shall stop ranting about them now. Probably.


*  *  *  *
Zootopia is one of my favorite Disney films from the past year, mostly because of all the relevant issues it looks at. Cop violence, racial injustice, and more. This is sure to be a classic for it's amazing message.

Let's talk! What do you like about Judy? Did I miss anything? Do you love Zootopia as much as I do? Tell me in the comments.

June 15, 2017

The KonMari Method: My Thoughts and Tips

The KonMari Method: My Thoughts and Tips

The KonMari method has been everywhere lately. Being a person who loves to organize and tidy things, I decided to check out the books to see what the fuss was about. (And also because I needed a 2016 bestseller for my reading challenge and those sounded like a good pick.)

I found them quite interesting. You can see what I thought about the first book here. Like I said there, I thought some of the ideas were great, others too weird for my taste. When I finished reading them, I decided to give the KonMari method a try.

This post is about what I did and how I did it, plus my tips and thoughts on the KonMari method. I'll take you step by step through the process so you can see what it looks like. If you're interested in learning more, keep reading.

The Process

It's really not that hard. You sort through your belongings using the guide of keeping only what brings you joy. Yes, I know that doesn't work for everything. I personally used a guide more along the lines of “Do I like this?” and “Do I still need it?” Using this guideline, I got rid of quite a bit of stuff.

The second big thing is to sort by category, not location. This is because we often store the same type of things in many different spots, so we don't realize how much we have of one thing or another. I suggest you follow what she says and sort by category. It can be helpful and eyeopening.

The KonMari method also has a certain order for you to sort your things in. 1. Clothes. 2. Books. 3. Papers. 4. Komono. and 5. Sentimental. Now I'll walk you through how I sorted my things. With pictures!

Clothes

Excuse the messy state of our room. The stacks of clothes are the focus here.


Marie suggests starting with clothes because they are the easiest to tell what you like and don't like. The first thing you do is get every piece of clothing you have and put it all on the floor. Then you sort it in to piles by type- tops, bottoms, dresses, shoes, and so on.

The pile of clothes I kept

And the pile of shoes

You never realize how much you have of something until you have it all in one room, which is why she says to do that. Once I had all my clothes in piles according to type, I went through it. Most of what I got rid of was stuff that I never wore or liked anyway. Others were more difficult to decided whether or not to keep or get rid of. Tip: If you're unsure, keep it.

My get rid of basket

I got rid of a whole laundry basket full of clothes. It was a freeing experience, which sounds weird, but it's true. Having finished sorting, I totally rearranged my dresser and re-folded all my clothes accord to the KonMari method. It takes a little longer, but the look is so nice. If you want to know more about the folding method, search YouTube. There are lots of great videos showing how to do it. You can see my drawers below.




Books

A picture of my bookcase from a few months ago

This is one of the things I have very different feelings about from Marie. She believes that you should only keep the books that you love the most. Books you haven't read yet, already read once, or ones you're not likely to read again should go. If you're screaming internally reading that, don't worry. I was too. As you can tell, she's not exactly a big reader.


I started by pulling all the books off my shelves. I have a small bedroom that I share with my two sisters, and so I only have three shelves of a bookcase for books. The towering top shelf is probably going to fall and kill me someday. But I digress.

The books I kept

My guideline for sorting was the same as clothes. Some were easy to say goodbye to, others took a lot of thought. She suggests not opening the books, so you don't get sucked into them, but I don't agree with that. How else am I supposed to know if I still like it? Or even remember what it's about?

And the ones I got rid of

When I finished I had a pretty good get rid of stack. At least for someone who loves books. Then I re-shelved them all. I don't have an exact order for my books. Its mostly just shove them on in the way that fits the most books. I dream of the day I have my own bookcase and can sort my books by genre then alphabetize.

My bookcase after the sort
Papers


I have a lot of papers. I've been a writer since forever, and I love notebooks and writing things down. I do sort them fairly frequently so there wasn't as many as there could be. Anyway, I gathered them up and sorted.

The papers I kept

This was one of the larger stacks of things I got rid of. There were many things I didn't need any more, or old notebooks full of unimportant things. Tip: If you want to keep a few pages from a notebook, but don't want to keep the whole thing, just rip out the pages you want.

These are what I got rid of. They filled a large brown paper bag.

But harder than sorting papers was figuring out where to put them when I was done. Some went in my desk, others in the back of the closet, others with what they belonged with. Take the time to think through where to put them and you'll be happier with the result.

Komono

Komono, not be confused with kimono, is the Japanese word for miscellaneous. As you might guess, this category includes anything that isn't clothing, books, papers, or sentimental. Which is a lot.

What I did was first made a list of all the different sub-categories of komono I had. I turned out to have ten- bags, jewelry, Lego, stuffed animals, toys, craft supplies, art supplies, beauty products, kick-knacks, and odds and ends. It would probably be a longer list if I had my own house, but at the moment I don't. I suggest you do the same thing.

A lot of these I forgot to take pictures of, so I'll include what I took. I basically picked a category to sort that day, and did it. Tip: If you're feeling unmotivated to sort, pull out what you're planning to sort that day. It not only helps you get rid of the feeling of inertia, it also makes you have to sort it because you can't leave it out forever.

• Bags. I'm a collector of bags. Many of mine were made by family members or I like a lot, so I didn't get rid of a bunch. I did manage to cut back some.


The bags I kept are on the right, the ones I got rid of are on the left

• Jewelry. As you may know, I'm a jewelry maker, so I love jewelry and had a bunch of pieces I made that never really worked, or I no longer liked. I got rid of quite a bit of jewelry, included a bunch of childish things I still had.

My jewelry before

And after
My get rid of bag

• Lego. My family are huge Lego lovers. I'm a proud AFOL (Adult Fan Of Lego). I didn't sort my Lego for things to get rid of, more to put away a bunch of loose pieces I had in my collection. I also tried to put together some of my older sets I got when I was younger.

• Stuffed animals. I'm also a lover of stuffed animals and dolls. I collect both. I did get rid of some of my stuffed things, but I love a lot of them.

• Toys. Most of my toys are dolls. Baby dolls, 18” dolls, Polly Pockets, Madelines, and Barbies. I kept most of these things, as I have fond memories of them. What I got rid of most in this category was things like accessories I didn't need any more, or toys I no longer like.

• Craft supplies. I've always been a big crafter. It runs in the family. I have supplies for lots of different projects, some of which I will never return to. I got rid of things that I didn't plan on ever using.

• Art supplies. I actually still had a lot of things left over from my school days in this category. Small sets of crayons and markers (like 24 counts instead of my giant 50 or 100 counts), glue, a protractor, and things like that. I got rid of a bunch of things that I had no plans on using or that no longer worked.

• Beauty products. Being a girl, I collect a lot of different beauty stuff. Make-up, hair supplies, nail products, and things like that. My sister and I went through all of it and managed to get rid of lots of it. Under our sink and our vanity table look so much nicer now.

• Kick-knacks and odds and ends. This is basically anything that didn't fall in the previous categories. Things I've collected, random things from trips, all that sort of stuff. It took a bit to find it all, and even longer to figure out where to put it back. I got rid of quite a bit of stuff in this area.

I also cheated a bit and did sentimental things with the odds and ends. It seemed easier, and I don't have a lot of that. By that point I wanted to be done.

The Result

Doing this felt surprisingly good. After living in one place for a while, I'd been looking for a way to change things in my bedroom. Tidying and discarding things helped make more space so I can shake things up more. It may sound weird, but the KonMari method made me feel cleansed.

It was also nice because, crazy as it sounds, it makes me happy to look around now. When I look at my drawer of neatly folded clothes or glance under my sink, it brings a smile to my face.

So, I'm sure the questions you're wondering at this point is, should I try the KonMari method? I think you should give it a shot, especially if you're looking for something to change up your life. Being open minded, to a point, is an excellent skill in life.

Let's talk! Have you tried the KonMari Method? What did you think? Do you have any tips? Tell me in the comments.

June 12, 2017

Writing Sequels: Lessons from Disney

Writing Sequels: Lessons from Disney

I love Disney and I love a good sequel. But I don't always love *whispers* Disney sequels. Over the years, they've made many sequels to go with their more popular movies. Among those, they've had both successes and failures.

Today we're looking at how to write a sequel using Disney movies as examples. We're going to talk about things you should do and what you shouldn't. Ready to get started?


Just compare that animation. What happened, Disney?

1. Do keep quality consistent

Just because it's the second book doesn't mean it needs to have less quality than the first one. In fact, the quality should be as good, if not better. Readers won't keep reading your series, even if they liked the first book, if the second book is crap.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame 2, Aladdin 2, The Little Mermaid 2, and Beauty and the Beast: Enchanted Christmas are all examples of sequels whose animation quality went downhill. Even if the story is good, a bad look, or bad writing, can turn people off.

In contrast with that, movies like Finding Dory and Toy Story 2 show an increase in quality. If you can, that's the best way to go. Wow readers even more with your second book than the first.


This is also another one where the animation went downhill

2. Do actually have a story

If you're going to write a second book, make sure there's an actual plot. You can't mash together a hodge podge of ideas and expect it to work.

I liked The Emperor's New Groove and  Atlantis: The Lost Empire but their sequels weren't half as good, mostly because neither of them really had a plot. Atlantis: Milo's Return had Norse myths, a bit of Western action, and a Kracken creature with mind control. Yeah, it's as disjointed as it sounds. The same with Kronk's New Groove. Most of the story was backstory. Yes, I'm serious.

You need to work hard to make sure your sequel has a good plot. Second books, especially if they're in a trilogy, have to be pretty good. Don't write it just because you want to write a trilogy. If that second book isn't needed, make it a duology.



3. Don't make it a repeat

If you make your second novel have the exact same plot as the first one, but with a different protagonist, people will be highly disappointed. They didn't ask for a repeat of the first book, they asked for something new and fresh.

Kronk's New Groove and The Little Mermaid 2 are both exactly like the first but with a new main character. It makes the whole thing predictable and somewhat boring. If you can't figure out a new story for your second book, maybe you should drop the idea of a sequel.



4. Sometimes switch the protagonist

It can be nice to follow one person for the whole series, but it can also be good to see other points of view. It can add depth to the story, or it can allow you to see things the first protagonist can't. Like the POV of a peasant versus a prince.

Cars 2, Finding Dory, and The Lion King II all feature different main characters than the first one and each one is still a good story. Don't be afraid to try something new. Just because lots of popular series have the same MC throughout the whole thing, doesn't mean yours has to.



5. Do raise the stakes

When your sequel isn't exactly connected, it's okay to keep it about the same stakes as the first book. But if there's one connected plot overarching the series, then you need to keep taking it up notch with every book. And don't forget not only to raise the stakes but kick up the epicness (which is totally a word).

Disney, especially Disney•Pixar, is excellent at raising the stakes as their stories progress. The first Cars on has the stakes of losing a race, but second has actual lives on the line. The first Toy Story has some danger, but nothing compared to the dump scene in number three. (Of course, we don't discuss number three. Oh, the feels in that movie.) Keep upping the cost and you'll have readers hooked for sure.



6. Do keep the story's heart

The heart and theme of your sequel needs to be consistent with the first one, or no one will like it. There must have been something that made people love your first book, and it needs to be carried over to any sequential books.

Think about Toy Story. The heart of these movies is friendship and family. The fact that they will be together no matter what. That's what people love about them. Or what about Lilo and Stitch 2? It also keeps the same warmth and depth of feeling from the first one, making us smile and cry. So much crying.



7. Do make your characters consistent

Your story is nothing if you don't have a plot, a theme, and a good character(s). Without one of these things, the whole thing falls apart. And when you're writing a series, you need to especially make sure your character remains consistent with how they acted in the first book. Of course, if they change, you can keep that, but you don't want to lose their personality or make them act completely differently.

The Tinkerbell movies are an excellent example of this. Tink is a feisty little fairy whose temper often gets her in trouble. If she had stopped being so temperamental and big hearted, no one would have liked them. Or what about Mater? His dorky, dumb personality is what makes him so endearing. Even when he gets caught up in a spy mystery, he doesn't lose what makes him Mater.



8. Decided if you really need a sequel

Writing a sequel just because, or because you think people want it, is a bad idea. Make sure you have a good reason to write another book in the same story arc. Maybe because it wasn't finished in the first one, or because you want to tell another story in the same world.

Many of Disney and Disney•Pixar's best films have been standalones. They don't have many sequels because they don't need a bunch of sequels. Even if we want one, it doesn't mean the story actually needs one.

Another option, besides writing a sequel could be to write a prequel story. The problem with that is you can only do so much with the characters, because they have to end up in the right place for the next story. If you want an excellent example of a prequel, try Monsters University. The ending is quite the twist.

Let's talk! What sequels can you think of that were done well? What about bad ones? Do you agree with my Disney examples? Tell me in the comments.