Monday, April 28, 2014

On Writing Sequels

I love a good sequel. I always hate saying goodbye to characters I've come to know and love, and I always want to know what happens next. For that reason, a good sequel is perfect for me. Unfortunately, lots of sequels do not quite qualify as "good."

It is commonly known that sequels are rarely as good as the original story. I have certainly found this to be true. For instance, I love Disney's Mulan. As for Mulan 2, it's not worth the time it takes to watch it. It was completely cliché and predictable, and extremely disappointing after how much I enjoyed the first movie. I also enjoyed Summer of My German Soldier, but I didn't even get halfway through the sequel.

Some sequels are just as good as the first. I have read Return to Gone-away as many times as I have read Gone-away Lake. The Lord of the Rings is a continuation of the story begun in The Hobbit, and it far exceeds the previous tale. (Series are a different matter, and are of no concern to this topic.)

What makes the difference? I believe it is whether or not the sequel is a story worth telling or if it is merely a story written because the first one was successful and beloved. So often sequels are written simply because fans are clamoring for more, not because there is more story to tell. The result is a flat, cliché story that is nowhere as good as the first one. I know that I am more disappointed with the existence of a poor sequel than the absence of any sequel at all.

I have yet to write a sequel to any of my chapter books. I have had family and friends, and even a young reviewer, beg for a sequel to The Experiment. Even so, I don't see one being written. I ended the story where I did because I didn't have any more story to tell. What is in the book is it. Though my sister constantly asks if Audrey marries Adam when they grow up, I have no desire even to decide that. It is possible I may change my mind about writing a sequel someday, but you can be sure it won't be until I have a story worth telling.

Across the Stars is another matter. I have some ideas for a sequel about Hanna and Sam that I am considering writing as a first NaNoWriMo project this November if I ever plan it. Yet, though I have always foreseen the possibility of writing a sequel about Felix and Sara, it is on hold indefinitely for lack of a plot. I could get an idea for it within the next year, in fifty years, or never, but until I do get a good idea, I won't write it.

I am not against sequels. I rather like them. But my advice is not to write a sequel unless the continuation of the characters' story is just as worth telling as the beginning of it. If you have a good sequel idea, then go ahead and write it. Your fans will be happy.

Monday, April 21, 2014

A Hobbit Tradition: A Birthday Gift Coupon

My eighteenth birthday is this week, which, to be honest, is a little scary, as I will be an adult. I don't bring it up because I want everyone to tell me "Happy Birthday" or anything like that, because I never know how to respond anyhow, but because I want to make my own twist on a hobbit tradition.

As readers of The Lord of the Rings know, hobbits give gifts on their own birthday. All the ones Bilbo gave had a meaning to them, like the bookshelf to the hobbit that was good at borrowing books and worse than usual at returning them, and the silver spoons to Lobelia Sackville-Baggins. What I'm planning has a sort of meaning, though not quite like Bilbo's. It has to do with it being my 18th birthday.

Also, because I'm not rich (I haven't got any dragon treasure), I can't give away endless copies of paperback books. I've probably given away about as many as I've sold. But what I can do is give away a special coupon code for purchase of my books through CreateSpace.

Because I'm turning eighteen this week, this coupon is for 18% off. And, since a person only turns eighteen once, this coupon will only work for a limited time. It will be available until next Monday, the 28th.

Here is the 18% off code:
Remember, it's for use through CreateSpace, through the 28th.

And as a final note, Happy Birthday to anyone else who has a birthday this week, and for everyone else, "A very merry unbirthday to you!"

Monday, April 14, 2014

On Disney Princesses, Love at First Sight, and Happily Ever After

Snow White, awakened from an enchanted sleep by true love's kiss, goes off to marry Prince Charming and lives happily ever after.

Cinderella goes to the ball and meets the prince, who she falls in love with and marries after he finds her by use of the glass slipper.

Ariel rescued Eric from drowning, and gave up her life under the sea to marry him for her happily ever after.

Anna bumps into Hans when she runs through Arendale, and it's love at first sight, happily ever after . . . or not.

I like Disney princess movies, a lot. My favorites are Beauty and the Beast, Tangled, and Frozen. For some reason, though I grew up on Snow White and Cinderella, I didn't really care very much for princess movies until I saw Beauty and the Beast. After seeing Frozen, I realized that my favorite Disney Princess movies are the ones where the girl doesn't fall in love with the prince until she gets to know him. I also articulated a thought I had, and had heard some of.

When Snow White first meets Prince Charming, he has climbed over the wall of her house and scared her half to death by being a stalker. Then later, still not having ever spoken to him, she is perfectly willing to go off and marry him.

Cinderella doesn't know her prince. They met at the ball, and, after spending a few hours together, he will do all he can to find the girl who the glass slipper fits, so he can marry her. And she's going around the castle in a trance singing "So This Is Love."

Ariel is the worst. She wasn't even supposed to be at the surface, but after seeing Eric, she will trade her soul to be with him. And after defeating Ursula, her father even gives her a happily ever after for her disobedience.

None of them really knew their prince. This is where I have to quote Elsa, "You can't marry a man you just met."

Belle doesn't. She doesn't like the Beast until he stops being a beast and starts being a hero. She was only in his castle because she sacrificed herself so her father could go free. Rapunzel doesn't fall in love with Flynn until he realizes thievery isn't worth it and decides to be a hero instead. She even says she likes Eugene Fitzherbert better than Flynn Ryder.

And then we come to Anna and Hans. "Love is an open door." "You and I were just meant to be." And within a day of knowing each other, they are engaged. Only Anna's sister Elsa won't bless the marriage.

FROZEN SPOILER You'd think in the Disney tradition true love would pull through and Anna and Hans would be happily ever after, but they're not. Hans turns out to be the bad guy, after his own kingdom, and he's willing to kill both Anna and Elsa to get it. Kristoff, who is against marrying someone you just met and someone Anna actually gets to know, is her real happily ever after. END FROZEN SPOILER

Frozen turns the stereotype on its head and I like that.

So, while I like Snow White, Cinderella, and The Little Mermaid, I prefer Beauty and the Beast, Tangled, and Frozen. They're funnier anyway, and the songs are more fun to sing.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Resistance Cover Reveal

Today is a special day. This is the day the cover of my friend Jaye L. Knight's (previously published as Molly Evangeline) book Resistance is being revealed to the world. Resistance will be released on May 20th. Her books keep getting better and better as she goes on writing, so you definitely won't want to miss it. Without further ado, I present to you:
About the Book

“Don’t you know? Animals like you have no soul.”

Could God ever love a half-blood all of society looks upon with such fear and disdain? Jace once believed so, but when a tragic loss shatters the only peace he’s ever known, his faith crumbles as the nagging doubts he’s tried to put behind him descend on his grieving heart. With them come the haunting memories of the bloodstained past he longs to forget, but can never escape.

Taken from home at a young age and raised to serve the emperor, Kyrin Altair and her twin brother live every day under a dangerous pretense of loyalty. After her unique observation skills and perfect memory place her into direct service to the emperor, Kyrin finds herself in further jeopardy as it becomes increasingly difficult to hide her belief in Elôm, the one true God.

Following the emperor’s declaration to enforce the worship of false gods under the penalty of death, many lives are endangered. But there are those willing to risk everything to take a stand and offer aid to the persecuted. With their lives traveling paths they never could have imagined, Jace and Kyrin must fight to overcome their own fears and conflicts with society as they become part of the resistance.

Kindle release date: May 20, 2014

Blog Tour Announcement

Excited for this book’s release? Join us for the blog tour May 20-27, which will include reviews, interviews, a giveaway, and more! Mark your calendars, and check the blog tour page in May for more information. Hope to see you there!

Excerpt from Resistance (©2014 Jaye L. Knight)

     Just when he lowered his guard enough to relax, a grating voice sent tension knotting across his shoulders.
     “Look what the excitement dragged into town.”
     Jace ground his teeth together and turned. He should never have stopped watching his back. Wrong move on his part.
     Flanked by two of his smug-faced friends, a red-haired young man smirked at him, his eyes harboring all sorts of ill will. Jace barely bit back a sharp retort, but the other man’s smirk only grew at his silence. He peered around Jace.
     “Rebekah, what are you doing with this . . .” He glanced back to Jace and turned up his wide nose. “. . . half-blood?”
     Jace balled his fists. Warmth seeped down his arms and into his muscles, pulsing with the preparation for a fight, but he fought to still it.
     Rebekah came to his side, her face set in a frown that looked entirely out of place. “Stop it, Morden.”
    He gave her a condescending little grin. “Why don’t you run along? We’ve got business here.” The grin stretched wider. “I’ll gladly come find you later.”
     Rebekah put her hands on her hips, glaring at him, and opened her mouth to speak, but Jace beat her to it.
     “A gentleman would treat a lady with more consideration.”
     Morden snorted. “And what would you know about that?”
     A blaze erupted inside that Jace struggled to contain. He breathed in hard, cursing the impulses he had to battle so often. He couldn’t let it take control of him. Not again.
     “Come on, Jace, we still have to find something for Kalli.” Rebekah’s soft voice quieted his growing agitation, and she tugged lightly on his stiff arm.
     His blood still burned hot in his veins, calling him to action, and was almost too strong to resist. He thought of Rayad who told him time and again to go to Elôm when he struggled like this. He forced himself to turn away from Morden and whispered silently, “Elôm, I need help.”
     But Morden, who must have caught the movement of his lips just before he turned completely, let out an incredulous laugh. “Are you praying?”
     Jace froze. His heart thundered.
     “Who could you be praying to? Don’t you know? Animals like you have no soul.”
     An evil pang of doubt knifed through Jace’s heart, colder and more painful than the steel of any dagger, and robbed the breath from his lungs. His eyes settled on Rebekah’s face, but it was her pitying expression that caused the weak grip on his emotions to fail. Heat flared in his muscles. He spun around and smashed his fist into the side of Morden’s jaw, sending the man reeling. Regret followed, but it was too late. Morden’s friends caught him by the arms and steadied him as he shook his head to clear his vision.
     Jace dragged deep breaths into his tightened lungs and waited for Morden’s next move. Just walk away. The silent plea went out in desperation. If only it would just end here. But satisfaction lit Morden’s eyes, and his lip curled in a malicious sneer.
About the Author

JAYE L. KNIGHT is a 25-year-old independent author with a passion for writing Christian fantasy and clean NA (New Adult) fiction. Armed with an active imagination and love for adventure, Jaye weaves stories of truth, faith, and courage with the message that even in the deepest darkness, God's love shines as a light to offer hope.

Jaye is a homeschool graduate and has been penning stories since the age of eight. She was previously published as
Molly Evangeline. You can learn about her latest writing projects at

In celebration of the epic cover reveal for Resistance, Jaye L. Knight is giving away two handcrafted bookmarks with sword charms—one each to two different winners! The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only, and you can enter via the Rafflecopter form below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, April 7, 2014

Writing Dos and Don'ts

People say a lot about writing rules, even if they don't really know what they're talking about, and expect people to follow them. Well, I'm going to do something a little different.
Don't be afraid to break writing rules. They're just guidelines anyway, and they change over time. But do have a reason for it, and if multiple people think you'd be better off following the rule, it might be a good idea to listen.

Don't just write what you know. Do write what you want to read. But if you write what you don't know, do research it because people who know it won't appreciate wrong facts.

Don't just write when you're inspired and excited, because that will lead to hundreds of Chapter Ones and few Chapter Twos. However, if after the first inspiration, you don't ever get excited, do evaluate the story. There could be something wrong with it.

Don't just learn to write by reading "how to write" books. Do read real books. Writing how-to has its place, but stories get writing how-to into the subconscious in a way nothing else can. It's more fun anyway.

Don't worry about spelling and grammar and style and little nitpicky details in the first draft. Just get the story down. But do fix those things later. That's what second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh drafts are for. (That's about how many it took me to get The Experiment right.)

Don't be afraid to let people read your story. Stories are meant to be shared. But do remember you can't please everyone. Write the story you want to write.

Don't freak out when you get writer's block. Go do something else. I usually ride my bike when I get stuck, and it really helps. (My mom heard about a study that shows exercise helps break writer's block and get creativity going, which I thought was really cool.)

Don't be afraid to rewrite your stories. Only a genius could get everything right on the first try. Do take some breaks between drafts, though. It helps to get a fresh perspective.

Don't try to conform to someone else's writing style or method. Everyone is different. Do find what works for you. But don't be afraid to change your method. As people grow, they change. I know I have, and my writing method has changed.

Don't forget to have fun. What's writing for if you can't have fun with it?

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Interview With Toarna

     Toarna. Elusive. Unknown. Sitting right in front of me. I don't understand villains. Which, I suppose, was why I was interviewing Toarna. I surveyed her quietly, trying to keep my pencil out of my mouth. She wore the traditional rich robes of stryte royalty, and her ebony black hair flowed over her shoulders. Her yellow eyes seemed to bore into me. Yellow eyes are certainly creepy.
     "Um . . ." I couldn't think how to begin. Toarna could see the extent of my uncertainty. The ability to fully communicate with looks and movements almost to the point of telepathy is inherent to the nature of strytes. "How was your childhood?"
     That didn't tell me much. My stryte worldbuilding is almost nonexistent.
     "What kind of house did you live in?"
     "A mountain home, carved out of rock. It was small and bare."
     So Toarna hadn't always lived in the lap of luxury. "Did you have any Mer slaves?"
     "A few. We mostly worked them in the coal mine." Toarna was very matter-of-fact about this.
     "Did you ever feel any remorse for enslaving rational beings?"
     Toarna's eyes flashed indignation at the thought. "Why should I? They are one of the lesser races. Their limitation to audible speech clearly displays that."
     It was true, unadulterated racism. I should have expected as much from a stryte, after all, I am the one who decided the strytes had a feeling of superiority toward the other races, but I still didn't understand it in the least.
     "Was your childhood rough?" I asked.
     "All life in Chalton is rough," Toarna replied. "We have nothing but coal and fish. We had been driven out of the frugal lands generations before my time."
     "Do you think maybe that was partly the strytes' fault?" I said. "Maybe if you lived in peace with the humans, elves, and kalicans, they wouldn't have gone to war against you."
     "Live in peace with such uncivilized barbarians?"
     I had a differing opinion as to the true identity of the barbarians, but I kept it to myself.
     "They are little higher than animals," Toarna continued. "Why should they be treated as more than such?"
     "I'm human," I said.
     Her eyes narrowed at me. Time for another subject.
     "How did you meet your husband Mudan?"
     Toarna's face softened. She wasn't entirely devoid of tender feeling.
     "Mudan was a commanding officer in Chalton's army. His regiment was stationed near my home. I was a girl then, and ready for the right man to come along. There he was, near my home, ready and waiting."
     "And you married, and he went off to conquer Calhortz and enslave the people, never questioning if it was wrong."
     Toarna narrowed her eyes again. "So the author does know some of my story. You gave the impression it was all up to me."
     "Villains are hard for me to figure out," I admitted. "I just don't understand you."
     "I the villain?" Toarna rose from her seat. "Mudan and I ruled our people well. Calhortz is a happy, prosperous land. We don't worry for food as we did in Chalton. We don't have to work ourselves to the bone to survive. We don't have to rely on trade from irresponsible humans for our sustenance. We are in control of our lives at long last. And you, author, had to send children from your world here to destroy our happiness. They cost Mudan his life."
     "Technically, they're not from my world," I corrected. "They're from a fictional version of my world."
     "It matters not to me if they are fiction to you," Toarna said. "They are real to me."
     As I digested Toarna's speech in my mind, something stuck out to me. "Humans still provide you sustenance," I said. "You just control them now."
     "As you would own an animal," Toarna countered.
     "The only animal I own is my dog, and she doesn't really earn her keep," I said. "Humans are more than animals. And in your world, so are merfolk, kalicans, and elves. They are rational creatures, and they have souls. It's just the same as enslaving strytes."
     "If you insist on granting them rationality, then I will argue this: they deserve this condition after all the suffering they caused my race." Toarna was seated again.
     "These people had nothing to do with it," I insisted. "It was many stryte generations ago, and so at least four times that for the humans. Besides, I maintain that the strytes caused their own expulsion from the better lands of Calhortea."
     "You don't know the history of those times."
     "But I'm the author. I decide what it was. I just haven't had an idea for it yet. You're lucky to have the history and worldbuilding you do."
     "I still believe they deserve it."
     "Do they deserve to be forced to fight as gladiators?" I asked.
     "Yes," Toarna insisted. "And it is enjoyable."
     "How can you think so?"
     "Does not everyone enjoy a good fight?"
     "Not a real one," I said. "And even make-believe ones are hard for me to watch."
     "Humans," Toarna snorted.
     "I believe every life has value," I responded, "and it shouldn't be thrown away for no reason."
     "What value is there to life besides the present?"
     "You mean, 'Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die'?" I asked.
     "Is that not true?"
     "You don't believe in God, then?"
     "Why should I?" was her nonchalant answer.
     The root of the problem. Toarna didn't believe there was anything else to life than living for one's present pleasure. But if I got her to truly understand, I would lose my main villain. And she wasn't really real, so it wasn't as if I was condemning a soul by not explaining myself.
     "I think I have a decent grasp on who you are," I told Toarna. "You may return to your story." With a wave of my hand, she vanished from sight.