Tuesday Writing Tips With Marmalade and Alison Reynolds – Writing a Sequel

A-Year-with-Marmalade_cropped2Today I’m very pleased to welcome my good friend and writing buddy, Alison Reynolds.  Alison has a new book out and it’s a sequel to her bestseller, A Year with Marmalade (also illustrated by the very talented Heath McKenzie).

A new friend for Marmalade once again features the wise and independent thinking Marmalade.

Marmalade is a bit of a favourite of mine so it’s so great to see his adventures continuing, and I’m in the middle of writing a sequel to my book, Letters to Leonardo so I was very interested to read Alison’s tips on writing Marmalade 2.


UnknownTo help Alison and Heath celebrate the release of their brand new book, I’m offering a manuscript assessment of the first chapter of a chapter book for one lucky winner.

All you have to do is  comment on this blog post or any other blog during the A new friend for Marmalade blog tour and add the initials DW.

The more you comment, the more chances you have to win.

More information about the other great prizes on offer is available here.


Alison and Heath signing books

Alison and Heath signing books

Dee, thank you so much for hosting me here. A new friend for Marmalade was a very special book for me to write.

Toby is different from Ella and Maddy. He wants to be friends with them, but doesn’t know how to gain their friendship. Ella and Maddy aren’t mean to Toby but they exclude him because they’re not sure how to handle his exuberance, and Toby doesn’t have the social skills to know how to fit in.

Marmalade immediately accepts Toby as a friend, and doesn’t even notice that he’s a bit different.

I wanted to celebrate Toby’s special qualities – his exuberance and unique way of seeing and doing things. I wanted to show that once the girls were prepared to accept Toby’s differences, that they could all be good friends.

I leapt at the chance of writing a sequel for A Year with Marmalade. I love that cat!


  1. Come up with a totally new concept from Book Number One. Keep it fresh.
  2. If self-doubt creeps in  about whether you can write a book as good as Book Number One, don’t think about it and just start writing. You’ve done it once and you can do it again.
  3. Make sure that your sequel isn’t too similar to book one. I wrote a list of cat actions so I didn’t use all the same words that I used n Book Number One to describe Marmalade.
  4. Don’t change the characters too much in the sequels so you have continuity in the series.
  5. Hope and wish that Book Number One does well enough so you are asked to write a sequel. Then hope and wish that Book Number Two does well enough so you are asked to write a sequel. Then really hope and really wish that there is a Book Number Three and it does …


I love picture books like A new friend for Marmalade where themes of friendship, tolerance and adaptability are woven into the story and the actions of the characters so seamlessly that readers are absorbing important messages without feeling as though they are being preached to.

I can’t be completely objective with this book because Alison is my crit buddy, and I’ve seen this story grow from the gem of an idea into the beautifully told and illustrated book it is today.

But the themes in this book and the setting are universally recognisable. And the rhythm of the language makes it a great book to read out loud.

“A whirlwind cartwheeled through the sandpit. Maddy scowled and Ella frowned”

So few words, yet the scene and its characters are easily established in the mind of the reader. To me that’s the essence of a great picture book.

Readers will enjoy the sense of fun in A new friend for Marmalade, expressed both through the text, and the lively and appealing illustrations.


Lovers of the first Marmalade book will enjoy A New Friend for Marmalade, and this book is bound to guarantee this cute ginger cat a legion of new fans.


Marmalade is padding off to more great blogs. You can visit him here:

11th Dee White – review and post https://deescribewriting.wordpress.com/

11th Chris Bell – post http://christinemareebell.wordpress.com/

12th Angela Sunde – interview with Heath http://angelasunde.blogspot.com.au/

12th KBR – book giveaway http://www.kids-bookreview.com/

13th Boomerang Books – Post with Dimity Powell http://blog.boomerangbooks.com.au/author/dpowell

14th KBR Guest post http://www.kids-bookreview.com/

14th KBR Review http://www.kids-bookreview.com/

14th Sally Murphy – Meet my book http://aussiereviews.com/reviews/blog/

15th Buzz Words – Interview http://www.buzzwordsmagazine.com/

17th Ask the Bean Counter – Mr X http://www.alisonreynolds.com.au/

17th Pass-it-on Post and Review- Jackie Hosking


18th Ask the Publisher – Kay Scarlett http://www.alisonreynolds.com.au/

32 thoughts on “Tuesday Writing Tips With Marmalade and Alison Reynolds – Writing a Sequel

  1. Oh i love the first Marmalade book and cant wait to get this one too! I think that there is no doubt that number two will be just as well received. id love to win the first chap assesnent too 😉
    X kelly mcdonald

  2. I love the simplicity of A Year With Marmalade with the text andillustrations – yet so effective! Point 3 is a great idea about creating a list of cat words used in the first book, thanks for sharing Alison. DW

  3. Wow, there are some fabulous tips there. I think it’s really challenging to write a sequel so it was great to read this. I especially liked that first one – east to forget it’s still a whole new story. Thanks Alison!

  4. There have been plenty of children’s books about dogs and from a dog’s point of view (such as Selby the talking dog by Duncan Ball) but the Marmalade books are about a cat, an original idea. Well done!

  5. Alison and Heath’s ‘A Year with Marmalade’ is a beautiful book and ‘A New Friend for Marmalade’ is sure to be a winner too as its theme is such an important one for kids and it unfolds in such a beautiful yet subtle manner. I love the name Marmalade for the cat. It’s just so right. Alison’s tips for writing a sequel are very insightful and ones that are worthwhile remembering. I hope that there are more sequels for Marmalade’s fans to enjoy.

  6. Hi Dee and Alison, thanks for sharing this lovely post. I loved what you said about writing sequels and remembering that ‘you did it once and you can do it again’ so true.
    Great blog tour!
    PB CB

  7. Hi Dee, I have spent much time watching the way children play in the playground and I think I have a Maddie, Ella and two Tobys. They would all love a real Marmalade. Kind regards, Melanie DW

  8. I’m looking forward to holding this book “in the flesh”. It looks delightful. Congrats to Alison and Heath on producing such a lovely book. DW

  9. Thanks so much Alison for sharing your tips on writing a sequel and good luck Dee with your progress with the next ‘Leonardo’ novel. I loved Letters to Leonardo and can’t wait to read the next book. (CB NF PB)

  10. Thanks Alison and Dee. I hope one day that I get to use these great tips on writing a sequel – just have to get that first one published first 😦
    PB DW

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