I’ve been thinking about sequels after accidentally watching ‘Smokey and the Bandit 2’ this past week. I say ‘accidentally, because I was sitting on the couch reading, while my husband flipped through the channels, eventually landing on the aforementioned film. I saw it years earlier but didn’t give it much thought then. This time, I actually paid attention and discovered I didn’t care for the film. Not because it was bad, though it was (Sally Fields herself said out of all her movies, she considers it the worst), but because of the character development: Burt Reynold’s character had gone from fun in the first film to someone who was boorish and obnoxious in the second. And I guess that was the point, but was that really a story worth telling?

I’m a fan of sequels, I’m reading one now (The Twelve by Justin Cronin, the 657-page sequel of the 881-page, The Passage – see my last blog post, Not A Quitter, for more details on that). And I’ve watched my fair share of them in the past (you have to when you have kids. I’m looking at you Disney, Pixar, Sony, Dreamworks, etc.). But what I’ve noticed is that most of the stories told are … meh. They’re cash cows, an easy paycheck for an established audience. And I understand the decision behind that. But again, shouldn’t the story be worth telling?

So for all those who have asked for sequels to my books, I’ve been hesitant to say, “Yes, I’m working on one,” for that reason. I don’t want to just continue the story for the sake of bringing back characters. After watching ‘Smokey and the Bandit 2’ though, I started thinking about my books and where I could take the stories. I had jotted down ideas in the previous years but nothing concrete developed. I reviewed all those notes and made a decision. Starting in 2021, I’ll be focusing, writing and publishing the following sequels (these are rough synopses, so please be kind):

Stepsister Ballad (sequel to Stepmothers Anonymous): Picks up six years after the events of the first book. Sara Mauer (the incorrigible stepdaughter) discovers that happily-ever-after isn’t a real life option and finds herself a young adult, still living at home with her father and stepmother, envious of her stepsister Nicole, who seems to have it all. But a visit to a local medium with her friend Jenna and a hastily-made wish changes all that – first for good, as the circumstances in her life start to change for the positive, then for bad, as those circumstances begin to negatively impact the people around her, especially Nicole. Sara has to decide then if she wants to continue being a part of her blended family, or if she’s going to give all that up to live the fairy tale she’s always wished for.

Love Her Freely (sequel to Speak Tenderly To Her): Picks up after the events of the first book. Following a four-year separation and an escape from her abusive ex-boyfriend, Isobel finally has a second chance at happiness with Tory. But as they prepare for their pending nuptials and the delivery of Isobel’s daughter, they find the consequences of Isobel’s actions have come back to haunt them and threaten not just their future but that of Isobel’s daughter, who has become the subject of a custody battle, with the two men in Isobel’s life fighting for paternity rights. Will Isobel and Tory’s love be enough to get through this, or will regret for what should have been tear them apart?

Perfectly (sequel to Stay With Me): Noah hit gold when he won Alma’s heart. Now, he’s got to win the sister over if he expects to have any future with Alma. Picking up after the events of the first book, Noah and Alma look forward to exploring their newfound relationship, even with the constraints of her hospitalization. But as Alma’s guardian, Leta is overly cautious, setting boundaries between them that are soon tested when Alma’s mental health takes a turn for the worse, leaving them to decide if this relationship is what’s best for Alma.

There are a couple others, as well as a prequel for The Book of Joy, but these have been the loudest requests and I wanted to announce them. So hold me to this, ask me about my progress, and I promise, if I can write them the way I see them now, the stories will be worth reading. Coming in 2021.

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