watching, reading, and writing stories

My Adventure in Irving

This past weekend I had the privilege to go to Irving, TX with several girls to see Marissa Meyer, author of the Lunar Chronicles Series.


It was quite a drive, but several fun stops along the way and some good company made it fun.


My sister introduced me to this futuristic fairy tale series several months ago and I got hooked. So even though I decided not to dress up in a cosplay outfit, I did enjoy the excitement of the fans and all of the cool activities they had set up.


My sister even got interviewed on TV with her friends and was able to make friends with people all over Texas who also enjoy the series.


I particularly liked seeing my sister give several pieces of a puzzle to Marissa from fans all over the world. By the end of the tour she will have all the pieces to make the picture collage.


I even got a photo with Marissa.


But one thing Marissa said while she was speaking that stuck out to me, was her advice to young authors. My ears perked up, since that’s what I consider myself. She said to enjoy the writing process and where you’re at, at this moment. And I could see what she meant. She was at the library signing for hours, we left at 6:30 pm and there were still about a hundred people who wanted books signed. I can hardly imagine what it would be like to have to fly from one event to the next and talk with so many people. I’m sure it’s fun, but also exhausting. And I’m glad that for now I can just enjoy where I’m at in my writing career, and keep working on my own projects and encouraging others in their own.

Well I hope you enjoyed the pictures and if you haven’t had a chance to read Marissa Meyer’s work, I highly recommend it.

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The Lunar Chronicles

I just finished reading the Lunar Chronicles Series, or really 4 of the 5 books. My sister recommended them to me and I have to admit, they were extremely engaging. I had a hard time putting the books down, though the last book Winter I had to read over several days just because it was so long (over 800 pages). The only book I skipped was Fairest because my sister said it wasn’t her favorite and any of the plot points it gave were mostly covered in the other books. The series did a wonderful job of taking familiar fairy tale stories and making them fresh, new, exciting and adding some unexpected twists.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

The series starts with Cinder, and as by the title you can probably guess that it is based on the story of Cinderella. However, there are some striking differences between the original story and this new book. One of the biggest ones is that Cinder isn’t just a peasant girl who catches the eye of a prince. She is actually a princess, though she doesn’t know it, and an evil queen had tried to kill her. In actuality she should be queen right now, but of course the usurper queen wants the throne for herself and would do anything in her power to kill Cinder. So even though the cruel stepmother is still a character in this series, the usurping queen is the real villain that remains through the whole series. By the end of Cinder, our happily ever after has not happened, but instead we are set up for an epic adventure where Cinder needs to confront this evil queen and get her throne back.


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The next book, Scarlet, is based on the Little Red Riding Hood story. It too follows a familiar story line with Scarlet searching for her Grandmother and encountering a wolf, or wolf-like person. However their adventure is tied up in Cinder’s and eventually they meet up and begin to work together to defeat the evil queen.



Cress is the third book in the series and is based loosely on the Rapunzel story. Her hero who comes to her rescue was actually introduced in the second book Scarlet and their story is again intertwined with Cinder and her plan to reclaim her throne.


And finally we come full circle to Winter, the basis of which comes from the story of Snow White. However the evil queen in this version is none other than the evil queen that Cinder has been up against this whole time. And this is the book that finally gives us the exciting climax and conclusion we’ve been waiting for. I don’t want to spoil anything, since this book did just come out, but it was well worth the read and I enjoyed the ending.

This series does a brilliant job of combining the familiar with the new, and I love that it is set in a future with the Earth battling a new country on the Moon (hence the Lunar Chronicles title). The characters are all well done, interesting, hilarious, and engaging. I would highly recommend this series to anyone who enjoys young adult fiction.


My Top 5 Inspiring Book Series Authors

So I’ve enjoyed a lot of good books in my life that have influenced me and inspired me. Some were novels; one good book that I really enjoyed, but often I’ve found myself engrossed in a series of books. Which is fine with me because I get to read more about the characters I’ve already connected with and see an author expand on their universe. There are several authors who have written a series that has a special place in my heart and impacted my own writing. I could read them again and again. So, here we go with a count down for My Top 5 Inspiring Book Series Authors.

Number 5 is C.S. Lewis for his Chronicles of Narnia series.

Monochrome head-and-left-shoulder photo portrait of 50-year-old Lewis

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I’ve grown up with these books and enjoyed rereading them on several occasions. I love the characters, especially Lucy and Eustice. But all of the characters are so wonderful. And I enjoy the British accent I can easily slip into if I read it out loud. But I also just love the way these books connect to my life as a Christian and getting to see the themes of Christianity woven throughout the seven books. I especially love the way Lewis describes what heaven is like in the last book. In any case, I could reread this series at the drop of a hat and it’ll always have a special place in my heart. And I hope that in my own work my beliefs will come through just as they did for Lewis.

Number 4 is Brian Jacques for his Castaways of the Flying Dutchman series.

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I didn’t discover this series until I was older, in high school I believe. I had read one or two of Jacques’s other books about the mice. But I never got caught up into that series. However, with Castaways I couldn’t help myself, these books were full of adventure, excitement, a boy and dog going on amazing adventures and joking with each other along the way. I’ve reread them, especially my favorite parts over and over and it has influenced my own writing as well. It’ll always have a place on my bookshelf and I hope that my own writing is just as full of adventure.

Number 3 is Rick Riordan for his Percy Jackson series.

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I didn’t hear about this series till I was in college, but as I saw the kids I helped with at a middle school reading them, I was intrigued. Riordan has a comedic style of writing that keeps his audience giggling, yet he also comes up with the most fantastic adventures. He’s continued his writing with several other series, though I haven’t read them all. Percy will be a classic for me and I hope to reread the series sometime soon and perhaps learn something new from Riordan’s style of writing and incorporate it into my own.

Number 2 is John Flanagan for his Rangers Apprentice series.

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Another great series that I was not aware of till after college, I quickly became a fan and read all twelve books in one summer. I’ve also had the pleasure of meeting the author and it was a great experience. In any case, all of these books are enjoyable to me and the characters’ development are so well done. Though I may have written them a bit differently if I was the author, I cannot help but be impressed and hope that my own writing and character development may eventually be just as good.

And finally number 1 is Michael and Jeff Shaara for their Civil War series.

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In contrast to all of the other books I’ve mentioned these are meant for adults and would not be categorized as youth fiction. All of Shaara’s books are historical fiction. But boy can these guys bring the past to life. History books have nothing on these fantastic novels. I started with Michael’s “The Killer Angels” and soon got wrapped up in the prequel and sequel that Jeff wrote. And since then I’ve read every single book that Jeff Shaara has written. I’m currently reading “The Fateful Lightning” and it’s just as good. Though the style may not be what I’m going for in my own writing, I hope to become better at researching for my own books and bring some realism to my own work.

Looking back at this list of authors gives me much encouragement. Many of these authors have inspired movies and although the quality of the movies may not compare to the original writing, it is still impressive to me. I hope one day my own books will inspire other authors just as these ones have inspired me to write.

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The Warriors Series

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Recently I’ve been rereading the Warriors series by Erin Hunter. I did not get to enjoy these books when I was a young reader, but in college when I worked with a 6th Grade reading program at a local middle school, I got to see a few kids enjoying this series. My younger sister got into them as well and so eventually I did read them too.

I don’t know why I got the urge to pick them up again this past week but it was fun to read the story again. I love the world the authors created and how they describe this world from a cat’s perspective. They call humans “two legs” and think of cars as “monsters.” I also enjoy the Clan life they’ve created with it’s different roles for cats. There are warriors that protect and hunt, a leader and deputy that run the clan, a medicine cat for treating the sick and injured, apprentices that are learning to be warriors, queens that take care of kits, and elders that are too old to fight or hunt but are still taken care of. Plus the intriguing story of a cat from the pet world entering into the forest cat’s home is perfect for helping us discover the new world with him. I’m really enjoying how the larger story of Fireheart, our protagonist, faces off against his nemesis Tigerclaw. That storyline is weaved throughout the book series.

If you’ve never gotten to read this series and you like a good quick read, or if you’re looking for a good gift for a younger reader, I’d highly recommend the Warriors series. However, there are several series that have been written within this “Warriors” collection. I’ve enjoyed the first series and so has my sister. I think it is both our favorite. There are at least 2 other series after this one and several stand alone books. From what my sister has told me the later series begin to lose their appeal. The writing isn’t as good and contain more misspellings and grammar problems . Also the storylines become less compelling and even seem to go against what we would expect from our favorite characters. It’s as if the authors were just trying to pump books out so fast that they could not keep up with the same quality. So if you do decide to read this series, definitely start with the first one. The first book in the first series is called “Into the Wild.”

And here’s what it looks like. Happy reading!

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Books, movies, and tv

Have you ever read an awesome book and wished there was another? How about seen a good movie and hoped for a sequel? Sometimes our dreams come true, but oftentimes authors, or movie producers leave us hanging. Have you ever wondered why that is?

I think is has something to do with the reasons we engage with a story, whether it’s from a book, movie or even TV show. There are a few different ways to attract an audience and surprisingly, they all work rather well.

The first way to attract an audience is find something that works, and then repeat it. I know as I was growing up, I always loved series books: Boxcar Children, Hardy Boys, etc. Even though the stories were generally the same, I kept reading them. And this happens in TV shows too; every episode or book is set up in a similar way, some are better written than others, but odds are if you like one, you’ll like the next one too. There are plenty of successful sitcoms, like the Office, or shows that don’t have an overarching drama but still suck the audience in, like Elementary. Just like all the Hardy Boys books and Goosebumps stories we will continue to be read and enjoy them. Once a show, or book series has an audience, it can continue.

But then there are the stories that keep you on the edge of your seat. I read the Hunger Games not too long ago, and even though I think my favorite book was the first one, I had to keep reading all three books so I could find out how the story ended. These type of stories always leave an audience wanting more. TV shows like Once Upon A Time and 24 use the same idea, where you have to tune in next week to find out what happens.  I recently watched Kyle XY on Netflix and I was so drawn in to the back story and drama that I found myself watching 3 or 4 episodes in a row. These drama-based TV shows are similar to book series like Harry Potter, Hunger Games, or Percy Jackson. Not only is each episode, or book engaging and thrilling, but the story is continuous and always ends leaving you wanting more. Authors or writers in this category use the appeal of a continuing story to keep an audience interested.

And this is where our desire for more comes in. Because we are used to some stories continuing and engaging us time and again, we sometimes expect movies to do the same thing. Unfortunately movie sequels tend to leave us disappointed. It’s not very often that a movie sequel is considered to be even on the same playing field as it’s predecessor.

The reason, I think, that most movie sequels fail is because movies are made using the last category of audience engagement; basically giving the audience a compelling story. Movies stand alone, they aren’t made to have sequels or an ending suspense. They draw you into a story and leave you satisfied. Now I’m not saying this is always the case, but in general movies follow this mold. It doesn’t require repeating a generalized story, or leaving an audience longing for more, it simply tells an engaging story. I would say most movies, are similar to a novel. It has no connection to anything beyond itself. If you like it, you like it. And if you hate it, you hate it. There’s not suspense at the end, encouraging you to buy the next book, or watch the next episode. It’s just a story, but hopefully a compelling one. Yet this is where the Classics reside, those beautiful stories that engage us to the core. Movies like The Notebook, Rudy, Lincoln, or Les Miserables. Books like Pride and Prejudice, Treasure Island, and To Kill A Mockingbird. You can’t make a sequel to them, but you don’t need to, they are complete all on their own.

In the end, we all enjoy a good story, perhaps that’s because each of us is living our own story and hope that it is exciting and other people will want to hear about it too.

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