Tips On Writing A Sequel

ASunde.1d.WEBToday I’m pleased to welcome fellow Australian author and dear writerly friend, Angela Sunde. She has been on a very interesting journey with her latest book, Snap Magic, and she’s going to share a little of the magic here at DeeScribe Writing.

Angela Sunde is the author of the light-hearted fantasy novels Snap Magic, and Pond Magic (an Aussie Chomp – Penguin Australia.) Awarded a May Gibbs Children’s Literature Trust Fellowship in 2013, Angela represents the Gold Coast as a committee member of the Queensland branch of The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and is the editor of the Redlands City Council’s ‘Junior Redlitzer Anthology 2014.’ Formerly an award-winning language and literacy teacher, she is also a children’s writing judge and offers workshops at libraries and schools.

Angela Sunde’s own tweenhood experiences were the inspiration for Snap Magic’s cringeworthy laugh-out-loud moments. ‘Writing Snap Magic took me right back to being twelve years old. It’s like I never grew up. I just wish I could reassure Lily that it’ll all be okay in the end.’


Hello Dee!

Thank you so much for hosting me on your blog today. I’m very chuffed to be here. Coming up with five writing tips has made me reflect on my own methods during the planning stages of my writing.

When I wrote my new release, Snap Magic (the sequel to my Aussie Chomp, Pond Magic), I had no intention of independently publishing it. I had a firm invitation to submit from my publisher and had sent it to them just days before I received an email to tell me the Aussie Chomps list was closed. I read the email on my phone then immediately did a face plant on the couch. Ha ha!

Snap Magic, therefore, was written as an Aussie Chomp to the exacting specifications of that series. The approach I took when writing it is outlined below:

Five Writing Tips on Writing a Sequel:

  1. Look carefully at your first book. Why was it initially accepted for publication? What are its strengths? How do the characters interact with one another? Which narrative voice did you use? What was the tone of your story? This will give you a foundation on which to build a new plot.
  2. Consider the length of your sequel. It should match the first book in pacing, story arc and sub plot (if any). Refer to your previous notes and re-read your first book to ‘get in the zone.’
  3. Stick to a similar number of characters in the sequel. Let some go, while introducing new ones. Your main character should grow and change in a fresh way; he or she cannot undergo the same character development as in the previous story. Be consistent with character traits and quirks across both books.
  4. Follow a similar writing routine as you did for the first story. If mind mapping or free writing worked well the first time, it most likely will again. For Pond Magic I had worked out ten scenes and written summaries for each. I did the same with Snap Magic, allowing for flexibility.
  5. If you’re not completely sure the idea you have for the sequel will work, then don’t write it. Go and work on another project. A better idea may pop up later.

Thank you so much! I enjoyed visiting your blog today and I look forward to chatting with your readers.

Thanks for visiting us, Angela and sharing your great tips. Lovely to have you and Lily visiting DeeScribe Writing:)


Unwanted facial hair and bra shopping with a mother who has no idea of what’s cool in lingerie is a tween’s worst nightmare.

So the reader knows right from the start that they are going to be in for an exciting ride with Angela Sunde’s new chapter book, Snap Magic.

The book features Lily Padd who was introduced to readers in the popular Pond Magic published in Penguin’s Chomps series.

As if having a grandma bra and sprouting hair aren’t bad enough, the awful Ellen Middleton is threatening to tell the whole school about Lily’s problems, including the cute new boy.

It gets worse. Lily’s plans to shine at the Halloween dance have been thwarted when her father gives her gown to the six-year-old twins to play dressups.

Angela Sunde really knows how to raise the stakes and put her characters in seemingly impossible situations.

But Lily is a girl of strong character and she’s not going to let this series of events bring her down. Mrs Swan next door knows magic, perhaps she can help. Unfortunately, her magic doesn’t always quite work out, so Lily has to decide whether seeking her help is worth the risk.

As well as being full of tension and excitement, there’s also fabulous humour in this book, and the situations and characters are very authentic.

There are many cringe worthy moments where the reader is kept on tenterhooks wondering how Lily will escape ultimate embarrassment.

Snap Magic has everything. Humour, action, magic, secrets, bullies, friendship and even pumpkin soup.

The beautiful illustrations are also by Angela Sunde.

Lily is an endearing, not quite perfect character and readers aged 9 to 12 will be able to form a strong connection with her.

Snap Magic includes themes of trust, bullying, fears, embarrassing parents, puberty onset, and that actions have consequences.

ISBN 978-0-9925753-0-4 (pbk) and ISBN 978-0-9925753-1-1 (ebook) Snap Magic can be purchased through Fishpond. Find out more about this book and how it was created by visiting these other great blogs.

Snap Magic Blog Tour Dates


Monday 13. Kids Book Review

Tuesday 14. Sheryl Gwyther

Wednesday 15. Robyn Opie

Karen Tyrrell

Thursday 16. Alison Reynolds

Friday 17. Chris Bell – From Hook to Book

Saturday 18. Boomerang Books Blog

Dimity Powell

Sunday 18. Sandy Fussell / The Reading Stack

Monday 20. Aussiereviews

Tuesday 21. Dee White

Wednesday 22. Angela Sunde’s Blog Tour Wrap Up

November – to follow

Robyn Opie


Calpepper’s Place

calpepper-s-placeThere are so many things that endeared me to Trudie Trewin’s latest picture book, Calpepper’s Place.

There’s Calpepper’s name, the fact that he’s a camel, and then there’s the gorgeous scenic backdrop for his story.

But two of the things I love most about this story are the lyrical language and the way the words are perfectly complemented by Donna Gynell’s vivid illustrations.

“Calpepper had lived in the desert for all of his memories”.

This line is typical of the book’s powerful text and the illustration that goes with it will provide plenty for the reader to enjoy. It depicts Calpepper surrounded by snapshots from his life. A small desert creature gazes up at him in wonder.

We follow Calpepper as he goes ‘scrush, scrush, scrush through the hot desert sand.” We follow him on a new adventure to far away exciting places to find one that’s better than where he comes from.

As Calpepper waves goodbye from a bus crowded with all kinds of Australian creatures seeking adventure, the reader knows that this is going to be a big journey.

6134151The text rollicks along and the accompanying illustrations take the reader through various terrains and locations as Calpepper searches for that perfect place.

If you want to know whether he finds it or not, you’ll have to read the book.

There is so much to enjoy and discuss with the lively text and illustrations in Calpepper’s place.

I can imagine this being a book that kids asked to have read to them over and over again. And with each reading, they will find new things to enjoy in both the text and the illustrations

Calpepper’s Place is a beautiful book about finding your place in the world. It is published by Windy Hollow Books.

Teacher’s notes are available here.

Sandy Feet


From young adult author, Nikki Buick, comes Sandy Feet, a raw and engaging coming-of-age story about the highs and lows of adolescence as well as the consequences of family tragedy.

Teenager, Hunter did not vote for the family road trip. He can’t think of anything worse than being stuck in the car with his mum, his stepdad, his little sister and his new half brother.

His Mum thinks it will bring them closer together, but when Hunter discovers that he has been deceived about what really happened to his real Dad, the opposite happens.

Although things come to a head and the truth spills out, it’s what needs to happen before family relationships can be healed and they can move on from Hunter’s horrific car accident and his mother’s attempt at taking her own life.

Sandy Feet_978 0 7022 5315 7_CoverHunter is a very believable and likeable teen going through more than just coming of age issues.

He is a complex and well rounded character with authentic teen traits and flaws.

The road trip takes the reader up through northern Queensland, allowing them to experience a beautiful but dangerous part of the world.

The scenery is beautifully described and I love author Nikki Buick’s laconic humour.

“I didn’t like the ocean. It was always too cold, even in summer. It fizzed up my nose like a soluble aspirin and it dumped me like a sumo-wrestling girlfriend”.

On the road trip, Hunter learns truths not just about his family, but about himself.

A teenager’s difficulty in accepting his blended family is handled with sensitivity and realism. Hunter isn’t a bad guy, he just doesn’t see why he should accept his mother’s new husband as his Dad. Hunter already has a Dad – it’s just that he’s not allowed to see him.

For Nikki Buick, the themes of blended families, absent fathers, mental illness, disability and self-discovery came from her years of study and work in the area of Family Dispute Resolution, listening to and counselling young people through issues they struggled to navigate on their own.

As the mother of three teenage sons (and two younger ones), Nikki naturally drew on their collective souls in writing Sandy Feet to breathe life into the character of Hunter. ‘I sat down and wrote the story of an angst ridden teenager, dragged along on a family adventure that held no interest whatsoever for him. My sixteen-year-old son Harry could well relate to such a tale and still has nightmares!’ she comments.

Nikki now feels like Hunter has become her honorary, make-believe son and she loves him almost as much as the others!

This genuine connection to her main character comes through in Nikki’s writing, and that’s what makes Hunter’s voice so strong and authentic.

Sandy Feet is a coming of age story full of hope, and topics for interesting discussion in the classroom. It is published by UQP.

Writing Tips – Revising Your Novel – Strengthening Your Character Arc – GAME ON

I have been revising my middle grade novel, Game On, about a boy and his sister who become stranded in the Australian wilderness.


Jack the main character is a techno head who can’t survive without his wifi or his favourite video game, Crocodile Run.

But he has no choice when a family holiday goes disastrously wrong and Jack and his sister end up stranded in the Australian wilderness, and all Jack has are skills learned in a virtual reality to help them survive real world challenges.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATo help with my revision process, I’m using A Path to Publishing‘s, Revise Your Novel in a Month videos  produced by Jill Corcoran literary agent and Martha Alderson, the Plot Whisperer. There are eight videos in the series, and you rent them for 12 months for $75 USD. I can highly recommend them.  They cover everything from character, to plot, to energy in the story, to detailed line edits.


This is the first in a series of posts where I’m going to talk about how they helped me with the revision process.

In my head, I knew how my character had changed. He started the book as an unfit city kid who only entered the real world when forced to, and whose biggest physical challenge was lifting pizza to his lips and wrestling virtual crocodiles. By the end of the book, he was skinning kangaroos and fending off real crocs.

Constructive criticism can't hurt you *

So clearly, the physical arc was there. It wasn’t until I started revising using the videos that I realised I hadn’t paid enough attention to Jack’s internal arc. How would fighting for his life in the wilderness mentally and emotionally change a wisecracking 13 year-old boy?

For my character, it results in a deeper connection to his environment, a deeper understanding of consequences, and a deeper love for his family, particularly his little sister who is his companion on his real life survival quest.

I found that I’d shown a big change in my character by the end of the novel. It was kind of easy because circumstances necessitated certain actions so Jack had to be a certain way in order to survive.

What was missing from my story was the transition. I needed to go back and put markers in my story – to look at the physical events that brought about his change and made sure they reflected the mental and emotional journey as well. I needed to show that he hadn’t suddenly gone from being one kind of person to another – that his character had evolved due to circumstances and to his own self-knowledge.

DINGOSo these are the things I asked myself about to Jack in order to strengthen his character arc in the story:

1.  When does he come to understand the part he played in ending up in the situation he’s in?
2.  How does he behave under pressure?
3.  How does this behaviour change over the course of the novel?
4.  How does his understanding of himself change over the course of the novel?
5.  How does he come to realise what he has been doing wrong?
6.  What does he decide to do differently? How does this change him as a person?
7.  At the end, what is he able to do on a mental and emotional level that he wasn’t able to do at the beginning of the story?
8.  How does this help him achieve his goal?

CAMELIn my story, my character’s story goal actually changes and increases in intensity as the events unfold, so this necessitates greater change in his character.

One of the other things I realised is that the problems my character encountered needed to be a lot more due to his own actions rather than natural hazards or bad luck.

This increased the emotional stakes for him, the need for change, and a bigger character arc.

I hope this post helps you develop the character arc in your story.

If you have any tips to share or experiences with developing your character arc, feel free to share them in the comments section of this post.

Happy writing and revising:)





Lucas And Jack & Writing Tips with Ellie Royce

Ellie Royce has been telling stories her whole life. This resulted in some problems in her early days, notably at age five when she told her grandmother she had flown around the world on a broom.

Eventually Ellie learned to use her powers for good instead of evil and the result is a passion for writing books and sharing stories of all kinds.

Ellie RoyceEllie is the author of two books for teens, Letterbook One – Amy’s Secret and Letterbook Two – Passion for Fashion.

Lucas and Jack is her first picture book.

Ellie lives in Northern NSW with a little dog, a big dog, a second hand cat and her human family.


1. Write. Don’t wait “Till ……”  just write.
2. Write what you love.
3. Be flexible. There is more than one way to tell a story. If one way doesn’t work, try a different way!
4. Sometimes we run out of steam. When this happens, do what you need to fill the well, inspire yourself and feed your soul; walk outside, read,whatever it may be.
5. Then…..write!


Every week Lucas’s mum visits Great Grandpop at the nursing home.

And every week, Lucas waits for her outside.

Waiting is boring! Until Lucas meets Jack.

lucasAndJackLucas and Jack is a sensitive story about bridging the cap between generations.

I love the way that Lucas changes during the course of the story from a boy who is bored with visiting ‘old people’ to someone who can sees them not just as ‘old’, but as people with their own feelings and stories to tell – people who were young once and did things that Lucas can relate to.

There is a strong message in this story that is passed down to the reader in a gentle and inspiring way without them feeling like they are being ‘told’ what to think or they are being talked down to.

As well as revisiting the past through Jack’s eyes, Lucas is also able to find a way to connect with his Pop on a whole new level.

I love the authenticity of the characters in this book, and the way they become even more real for the reader through Andrew McLean’s wonderful illustrations.

There is so much emotion and life in his beautiful pictures.

Lucas and Jack is a wonderful book for families to share. It would also be a great introduction to living history in the classroom.

Lucas and Jack is written by Ellie Royce, illustrated by Andrew McLean and published by Working Title Press.

Teacher’s notes are available here.



Tania’s Picture Book Collaboration Tips – Celebrating Tottie and Dot

image031Today I’m so excited to welcome my very dear writer/illustrator and all round amazing creator friend, Tania McCartney who’s visiting to celebrate the release of Tottie and Dot, her new picture book collaboration with Tina Snerling.

Tottie and Dot is an important story about friendship and how to fix it when things go wrong.

Tottie and Dot live side by side. They drink marshmallow tea in the morning. Side-by-side. They water blooms in the afternoon garden. Side-by-side. They make speckled eggs for tea. Side-by-side. All is calm and peaceful until, one day, things change between Tottie and Dot. Who can create the prettiest, the bestest, the coolest house? And at what cost?

If you want to know more about Tottie and Dot you can read my review here.

Today, Tania is generously sharing some great tips about the collaboration process and how to make it work.

Tania’s Five Writing Tips – Author/Illustrator Collaboration

Tina Snerling and I are lucky creators. We get to work very closely together when we produce our books, and—to me—there is nothing more rewarding in the book production journey. Working in collaboration enhances any work, especially when both parties are willing to open their hearts and minds to collaborative possibility. Two minds are always better than one—and working with Tina so closely has allowed me to shift and change and grow my text, with new ideas, concepts and elements that might not have occurred had we put this book together ‘blind’.

Tina and TaniaWorking collaboratively absolutely makes for a more seamless book creation, where that delicate author/illustrator dance comes together in a truly cohesive way. Here are my top tips for a rewarding collaboration:

  1. image029Try not to be precious when you begin collaborating. Accept that the other party may have something really special to offer—some humour, a quirky addition, a plot twist, a new perspective. It’s not about who’s right or wrong—it’s about creating a new entity that takes seed in both image and text, but grows into its own creation. Allow the process to be organic. I have regularly changed text to suit Tina’s illustration ideas, and vice versa.
  2. If you are the author, let go of being the ‘primary’ creator. The books I write become as much Tina’s as they are mine. The nuance and meaning her illustrations add to the text are priceless.
  3. Set up a google doc spreadsheet and keep track of how the book unfolds. Tina and I put illustration notes in the columns and discuss the process as we go along. Listing the pages down the left hand side (including cover, inside cover, endpapers, half title, title, imprint, etc) really helps keep tabs on how the book is flowing, and if text needs to be moved to another page or if page imagery needs to be broken up in some way. You can also keep several versions of the spreadsheet so you can look back and see how things changed over time. Fascinating!
  4. image030I can’t imagine things turning sour (and you rarely hear of this happening), but if they do, it’s probably due to a battle of wills. For the sake of the book, agree to put the disagreements behind you, be prepared to compromise and if things are really bad, call on your editor or publisher to make the final choices/decisions.
  5. Keep communications open and strong and clear. This will minimise any drama, confusion, misinterpretation of text (rare) and—most importantly—the reworking of images, which can be immensely frustrating and time-consuming. Remember some illustrators like to storyboard, some like to create full mock ups, some create in full draft or go straight to final (exponentially easier if the illustrations are digital, like Tina’s, or the images can be manipulated digitally). If you spend time discussing imagery before it’s created, you minimise these issues. Of course, once the discussion occurs, you also need to let go of expectation and remember the illustrator may well throw out your illustration notes and—gasp!—create something better than you ever dreamed.

(Sep 2014, EK Books, $24.99, hard cover, 9781921966491)

Thanks for the tips, Tania. We look forward to seeing more wonderful books from you and Tina:)




Tottie and Dot Blog Blast!

Tottie and Dot blog blast webToday I’m so excited to be part of a very special event – a blog blast to celebrate the release of Tottie and Dot, Tania McCartney’s new picture book collaboration with Tina Snerling.

image029        image030

My review of this gorgeous book is below, but you can also hear great interviews, and do other fun things at the other fabulous blogs involved in the Tottie and Dot blog blast.  Just click on the BLOG BLAST picture above and it will take you to the blog schedule.


image034Turning the pages of Tania McCartney and Tina Snerling’s new picture book, Tottie and Dot is like browsing through a candy store. It’s so vibrant and full of appealing surprises.

Tottie and Dot are two adorable little girls who live side by side in quaint little houses.

image032They share the same taste in many things, marshmallow tea, apricot sandwiches, and my favourite, speckled eggs. But one day, things start to change.

image037image038A competition springs up between them over who can create the prettiest house. They become more and more outrageous in their attempts to come up with grander and grander plans for their homes.

image033I love the way this book is symbolic of modern day consumerism – where people accumulate things not out of need but out of a desire to impress.

Tottie and Dot and their deteriorating friendship over things that don’t really matter will invite important discussions with readers at home and in the classroom.

image040Friendship, consumerism and the environment are all contemporary issues for children to grapple with, and they are woven into Tottie and Dot’s story in a colourful, non-confronting way.

Tania McCartney’s lyrical language makes this book a pleasure to read out loud.

image039Each girl’s house is shown over a series of exquisitely illustrated double-page spreads — Tottie on the left and Dot on the right. Tina Snerling’s enchanting illustrations are full of expression and telling detail.

image035Tottie and Dot is a delightful read that raises important themes to be discussed with teachers and parents. But it’s an appealing story in its own right.

It’s another beautiful creation from the team who brought us An Aussie Year.

image036Tottie and Dot is for readers aged 4-7. It is published by EK Publishing.

(Sep 2014, EK Books, $24.99, hard cover, 9781921966491)

image031The collaboration between writer and illustrator on this book is clearly a labour of love. Their close connection comes through in all the nuances, the perfect marriage between text and illustrations.

Tania McCartney is coming back to my blog this Tuesday to talk about the collaboration process and she has some great tips – so stay tuned.

I hope you enjoy Tottie and Dot as much as I did.