Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Serpent's Shadow Book Review!

Surprise! A second birthday gift from Ashley!
To celebrate my 18th birthday, I've finished a book and I can't help but write a book review! IT'S A MUST READ!

The Serpent's Shadow by Rick Riordan! It's the third book in his Kane Chronicles using Egyptian mythology to craft an enjoyable read that never fails his readers!

After all Sadie and Carter Kane have been through, sending Rick Riordan audio recordings to explain to the world what they've been up to, losing best friends left and right, and given immense responsibilities for 14 and 15 year olds – not to mention their dramatic love lives driving them crazy, it's all come down to this. The final battle with Apophis, the evil god working to destroy all of civilization, will either cost the Kanes lives or live to see the end of the world. In this epic show down of friendship, loyalty, brother and sister love, crazy mythology thrown left and's a book you can't put down.

The most exciting part for us readers (or maybe just me) but you finally get to see what happens with Carter Kane and Zia Rashid! Questions swirling around Zia answered! And an ending hopefully leading us on to even more books.

My favorite characters in this book are Sadie Kane, Walt Stone, and Anubis the god of death. These guys are seriously the best trio/couple to exist in Egypt!

Not only is the story a must read but I encourage parents to nudge their kids about reading ANY book by Rick Riordan. Kids absolutely love reading these books and teenagers all over the world. What I've seriously noticed at book signings and movie crazies for Riordan's books is how much kids want to read thanks to these awesome books and there's absolutely nothing wrong with the books for you parents to sheild your childrens eyes. These books are a learning experience about mythology in Greece, Italy, and now Egypt!

Honestly I couldn't have asked for more from Rick Riordan once again. He never fails the world with his awesomeness and his story telling is beyond brilliant.

If you are interested in reading this series or any series by Rick Riordan keep in mind when he wrote his books! The Percy Jackson and the Olympians (6 book series) is the starting point. After that is the sequel series Heroes of Olympus but he started writing the Kane Chronicles as well. I only mention this because he continues to mention Greek mythology in the Percy Jackson world in the Kane Chronicles and I SERIOUSLY am starting to wonder if Riordan is planning to combine these three series into one eventually.

Read The Kane Chronicles if you want to see what I see!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Describing a Scene When Your Character is Running for their Lives

Ashley's birthday special!
After reading The Serpent's Shadow by Rick Riordan, I couldn't help but notice a common reappearance: describing a room when the main character is running for his/her life and you're using first person.
I'm sorry did I miss something? If I was running for my life I would not be describing the room I had ran into. More like I would be freaking out and as the author I would be writing about the emotions running through my body in the heat of the moment.
In The Serpent's Shadow by Rick Riordan there's a scene with main character, Carter Kane, who is being chased by a crazy bull with lazer beams (don't ask). He's running through a maze and the poor 15 year old character is freaking out, having no plan or idea of how to get out of this mad situation. A character running next to him, Zia Rashid, pulls him down a side entrance with her and they enter a great room. Now Carter Kane is describing the room in the heat of the battle with the crazy bull on his tail.
It's awkward!
I know some of you may disagree here but it doesn't add up.
Honestly, if you really want to describe that room than please wait until after your character has defeated the crazy bull shooting lazer beams at him/her.
The only exception is this common writing mistake is during the fight. When your character is desperate for something to help them out, then your character will be quickly scanning the room in desperation.
I'm not entirely criticizing Riordan's move in this particular scene but maybe you could have stationed that one paragraph into another scene.
Also in this different situation with Rick Riordan's novels, his previous series (Heroes of Olympus and Percy Jackson and the Olympians) the main characters have ADHD and dyslexia. Those characters are going to be running into a room chased by some ungodly creature and yes they are going to be scanning that room as quickly as they can because of their condition/ ability.
In the Kane Chronicles, the characters are normal kids with the blood of the pharaohs (ok not so normal as they may appear) but when did they have ADHD? They don't but the only excuse here is the character was on adrenaline in the near death experience.
If YOU are going to be writing a scene similar to this situation with Carter Kane in The Serpent's Shadow by Rick Riordan, than please choose wisely with where you put your descriptions of a room or anything else in your scenes!
Someone like me may come along and ask, why did you describe that when your character is about to be blown to a trillion particles? 

Saturday, August 25, 2012

"Stereotypical Freaks" Book Review!

"Stereotypical Freaks" by Howard Shapiro, author of 4 children's books including the critically acclaimed Hockey Days and it's sequel Hockey Player for Life was a truly spot on graphic novel for a nearly 18 year old senior in high schooler such as myself.

I don't usually read graphic novels but this book really appealed to my age group where I couldn't help but see amazing parallels to my life. Shapiro did a fantastic job of tackling such a difficult topic to write where I loved every minute of the story.

Stereotypical Freaks is about 4 high school seniors who all come together in a band where they share the same kind of music yet they are all different kinds of people; labeled smart kid, geek, star player, and quiet weirdo by their classmates. Naming the band describes them as stereotyped by their peers yet they are incredibly unique and amazing together. Together they join the Battle of the Bands even through a difficult time when one of the band members shares some troubling news and suddenly the Battle means everything to each and every one of them than they could have possibly imagined before.

I truly enjoyed this book down to the very last page! As a writer myself I really enjoyed how we get to see into the minds of teenage boys in reality. None of it was mythological or was all real and as a teenage girl myself, it was nice to read inside a boy's head! The characters really grow in this book and you couldn't help but feel all the emotions that they face.

What I REALLY ENJOYED in this book was the chapters!
There's recommendations for music to listen to while you read the chapters and it's very unique yet enticing. I really enjoy music and listening to music that Shapiro recommends was incredibly new and fantastic!

Great job Howard Shapiro!

P.S.: Heads up...don't listen to the Hunger Games movie score song called "Rue's Farewell" during the intense scene at the end of the book...because I did and I cried even more because that scene in the movie was literally JUST AS INTENSE!

Check out Howard Shapiro and his other books here:

Friday, August 24, 2012

The Truth About BOOKS and their MOVIES

With movie franchises you constantly hear things like "the movie wasn't good enough...nothing like the book." But when it comes to books made into movies there's a lot to consider and even a new mindset going into that movie theater.
Franchises including The Hunger Games, Eragon, Twilight, and even Percy Jackson-fans have never truly been happy about these movies and there is only so much the movie industry can do to make us "happy." The closest fans have ever become "happy" about the movie adaption was The Hunger Games but it took a community to create those feelings among the fans.  
As an old Hunger Games fan myself I saw the fan community grow into a network of leaders and family. The vibe some of these websites introduced to the Internet early on was how people started reacting to the series: Retweets on Twitter constantly of fans enjoying the Hunger Games and their own personal info to share with the rest of the community, Blogs posting of Hunger Games events for the holidays where they encourage YOU to get involved...
There was so many sites like ; ; ; ; that have really created the fans to grow and prosper positively way before news that the series was becoming a movie.
For even more examples of their unity with the fans are people like Sam Cushion, a music writer who does unofficial music for the Hunger Games and the Matched trilogy on iTunes. On Facebook you have pages like District 9 3/4 to unite Hunger Games fans and Harry Potter fans. Even a page called The Hunger Games Army so fans can get together and go crazy with spoiler alerts together.
But what really got me was the Facebook page called: Let's not make Hunger Games a twilight thing with "team Peeta" or "team Gale". This is actually a brilliant idea because what really got people rolling was the disaster over the Twilight series franchise.
When I was in the 8th grade (2008-2009), I remember finishing the whole series in one week then I noticed literally every student in the hallways carrying a Twilight book in hand. For a while that was "the Trend", everyone read the books-everyone talked about the series...then the movie came out.
Now the difference here between myself and everyone else around me was my reaction to the first Twilight movie. EVERYONE all of a sudden hated the series, saying the movie was TERRIBLE. That really made a dent into the Twilight community and the series has never been the same among people today.
What happened here was the community of Twilight. Before this uproar of hatred the community was very obsessive over the series with some amazing podcasts on Zune Marketplace, some who even went to the place where they were filming the movie in Oregon; MANY websites all about the series, bands formed from inspiration for the series, the books themselves even changed the location of Forks, Washington FOREVER.
Honestly the Twilight community is great but the people didn't find that very appealing on the outside. Even worse Twilight has become a franchise that the future has learned mistakes for so they don't mess up.
Franchises are a constant issue today because of the PEOPLE. But the most ironic thing about the Twilight series was when The Twilight Saga Breaking Dawn Part 1 came out and the true fans emerged out of the crowds of hatred and showed that they still love the series. Kids at school wore clothing for Twilight to go see the movie in their clothing...just like they had in the fall of 2008.
For teens around my age today (14-18 wars old) have gone through this Twilight boom around middle school time (5th-9th grades) where teens are constantly pressured and bullied. Twilight became something among middle school students as something terribly stupid. We fans had to hide our fandom out of fear and walls built by kids at school and even on the Internet.
What the Hunger Games did right was a change in the community. They created unity, passion, leadership, and trust among the fans. What was even more amazing was the casts reacting to that 100%, telling the media they're Team Katniss, wearing Mockingjay pins at the premier.
For the amazing Eragon series, there IS NO Eragon community but they do have a HUGE FAN BASE but no community online really. The series is a huge hit but there isn't much of a way for fans to connect. The movie is discussed constantly as a terribly bad adaption to the book where there wasn't enough want for another movie (Eldest) to hit the big screen. There WAS talk of remaking Eragon the movie but that was the end of it-more like a moot point. With the last book, Inheritance, out the fandom has silenced. There was SO MUCH POTENTIAL in this series but there was no ball moving to back it up.
Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan is an interesting case... When the first movie came out there were lines going out the door at my movie theater for DAYS. But the issue here was the movie ended up being a huge disappointment in a million ways, even I gave in on this one but I still loved the series to death!
Rick Riordan's book signing last fall for Heroes of Olympus book 2 came to Olympia, Washington where I drove down to meet the mastermind. A kid asked him a very important question where Riordan's answer has never left my head since. The kid asked if he was proud of The Lightning Thief movie and he told over 1,000 kids and parents that day that he has NEVER seen the movie because he's got the best version of the movie in his head.
Even though Rick Riordan is the author of the Percy Jackson and Olympians and the Heroes of Olympus series we can do exactly what he says to heart.
What disappointed fans will complain most about with movies are sentences like: "the character isn't like how I imagined", "they took out a bunch of info", "Why did they change it?"
But what we must keep in mind is the fact that books can describe beautiful scenes in detail for pages but that's horror for movies. Movies can't explain what's on those 3 pages because it's a visual film and they have a time frame of under 3 hours of movie where a book (if you made it into a movie down to every single word in the book) would be an 8 hour movie.
It's literally impossible to make a movie  exact to fan's likings. But all our perceptions of the books are completely different from the kid next to you in math.
But it's exactly like what Rick Riordan said in Olympia less than a year ago where we can do the same no matter who we are or what we do: "I have the best version of the book in my head."

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Character Development with J. K. Rowling

Wondering about inspiration for your writing or how to create some character development for your books? This blog post is just for you!

I just involved myself with a Harry Potter marathon and couldn't help noticing how well Prisoner of Azkaban was well done in every aspect to the viewer.

As a writer we can learn a lot from movies such as this series. Screen writing and script writers are a huge spot in movie making where they are vitally important to how well movies turn out.

In Prisoner of Azkaban of the Harry Potter series you can see how well the transitions and flow of the movie is truly well done.

When you write you can be really inspired to write your own transitions by watching this movie's.

Finding inspiration is truly remarkable and something writers on instinct search for constantly.

I recommend rewatching Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban again for your own gain here. Look for inspiration- anything that might seem remarkable to you.

Go for it!

Better yet, have your own Harry Potter marathon! And NO I am NOT JOKING!

Inspiration fires up us all! And to have fun with it...Harry Potter is literally the greatest excuse! The series is over and what better time than now?! None!

For character development, the story is truly memorable for readers. It's vitally important in other words!

I'm sure you know this but to really help you improve your character development skills is to STUDY it.

In the Harry Potter series you really get to see our favorite characters grow up, make mistakes, go through some truly tuff stuff.

This is character development.

I usually wouldn't recommend writing a huge series where you watch some kids grow up, have the story drone on through many years... But Harry Potter is different.

To use this style you have to have a purpose, and give the readers something good to read. (not making us bored too much)

But as Harry got older, people were changing all around him, even himself. Things were naturally being put in motion and so it required many years, especially when the real-in person-battle was to come when Harry was ready, older, more mature, wiser...

J. K. Rowling did a fabulous job with her remarkable skills with character development, recognized all over the world with admirability.

What made this style work, again, was her use of magic trailed into a story of a world unknown to the common human. She created a non mundane subject in our reality that was NEW. Humans crave NEW and UNKNOWN.

To unravel a language "dead" to us now and use it to her advantage on the world...was BRILLIANT.

Again, Latin was used where we became fascinated with it's subject, opening a large base for others to come.

If you find inspiration in any way shape or form in the world, Harry Potter is one that can really help, and you can really enjoy yourself doing this "study."

The best part is: it won't even feel like studying!

Monday, June 18, 2012

A Good Way to Find Latin FUN!?

The City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare is the 5th installment of the Mortal Instruments series. Clare crafts a truly amazing story of her characters in modern day New York City; but this is urban fantasy and nothing is normal.

Humans are called mundanes, (notice this is a Latin root: mundus meaning mankind or pure among many other similar translations) where our story revolves around Shadowhunters who are half human and half nephilim (angel). Shadowhunters protect this earth from demons to keep mundanes mundane, werewolves roam around turning on the full moon every month, vampires that burn in the sun and drink blood and can’t say God, and the fair folk who are faeries that are pure evil and always tell you the truth. It’s an interesting world and there are definitely oddities that are truly appalling.

For awesome Latin searching to read and for you guys to see Latin “in action” then this is actually an amazing series for you to read. This series has an INCREDIBLY LARGE FAN BASE and a million reasons for anyone to read them.

Particularly in this book you get some interesting Latin quotes, vocabulary, and jokes that really make learning Latin fun. For example a character, Simon, is late to a meeting with the other Shadowhunters because there’s this Latin password to get into the place. He was told by the jokester that the password is Basica coquum . Then a shadow replies:

“’It’s ‘Descensus Averno facilis est.’ ‘The desent into hell is easy.’” said Alec. “You just said ‘Kiss the cook.”” By using all this Latin in these few sentences, you’ve made a comical excuse to use Latin AND make it all funny!

Latin was also used when the characters mention adamas meaning diamond. Just this casual use of Latin can make a story really appealing AND you use Latin. All this Latin truly makes Latin learning FUN!

“Quod tumeraris: per Jehovam, Gehennam, et consecratam aquam quam nunc spargo, signumque crucis quod nunc facio, et per vota nostra, ipse nunc surgat nobis dicatus Azazel!” This meaning: "What swells: By Jehovah, Gehenna, and this water which I now sprinkle, and the sign of the cross which I now make, and through our prayers, he dedicated to Azazel now arises in us!" is used in the story to affectively use Latin in a ritual. Again makes Latin appealing because we don’t know what this all means.

Now the grand slam of all Latin in this book! Clare uses Acheronta movebo in this book where this particular bracelet has this inscribed on it. The owner falsely translates it to ‘Thus always to tyrants.’ But if you know Latin quotes, such as ‘Thus always to tyrants,’ then you know the character is lying because the REAL translation of his English is ‘Sic semper tyrannis.’ With your awesome Latin knowledge you just found a gigantic clue to what will later happen! Deception!

So for those of you learning Latin, the Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare is for you. It affectively uses Latin to make it interesting and fun to learn!

I truly loved this book and a true highlight in the series in my opinion and 100% want everyone to experience this awesomeness. SERIOUSLY! Plus Clare is a very talented writer and is a force to be reckoned with!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Latin Can Benefit YOU!

Are you looking for ways to improve your vocabulary, increase your knowledge and or skills like your SAT scores? Taking Latin will help you reach all those points and more!

Did you know that a little over 55% of the English language is Latin?

The words you speak everyday didn't just come out of someone's head to randomly become the English language! English was developed over time from all kinds of languages. 55% IS LATIN!

Remember that reading section on the SAT?

You really need to know English words and sentence structure to even possibly get a good score.


English words like Cornucopia may come up (let's say that you don't know this word) and you are completely stumped on the meaning of the word. If you know Latin it can really help you pick out the Latin with in the word. In Cornucopia, the Latin root is Cornu meaning horn!
Do you understand the word better now? With the help of Latin knowledge you now have an idea that Cornucopia means horn!
A cornucopia!

With Latin you learn roots and prefixes all the time that really correlate with our English grammar! Let's face it though; Latin can do more than enhance vocabulary. Your math scores can also improve from just taking Latin!

The Latin language trains your brain to work in different ways so it really complements your brain's abilites in math to enhance your math skills.

Latin can be quite useful if you want to sound smart and know knowledge that you never knew possibly existed!

Have you see abbreviations for titles or times of day like P.S., P.M., P.Ch.N., or Ph.D.?

These are all Latin abbreviations in our everyday lives!

P.S. is Post Scriptum in Latin meaning after the text. You see people use this everyday when they want to add a side note at the end of their letter.


  Can't wait to see you this summer!
Love Ashley
P.S. I'm bringing Latin to your summer! Beware!

With your knowledge of the meaning of P.S., you can use it correctly!

You hear people receiving Ph.D.'s all the time. What does this mean?

In Latin this is an abbreviation for Philosophiae Doctor meaning Doctor of Philosophy. Titles like this can help you understand them with your superior knowledge!

In your history books, maybe even in holy scripture, have you seen P.Ch.N.? In Latin this stands for Post Christum Natum meaning after Christ was born. THIS CAN EVEN HELP YOU IN YOUR HISTORY CLASSES!

P.M. we see as the end of the day. This is actually another Latin abbreviation! In Latin this means Post Meridiem meaning after noon.

There are a ton of abbreviations the average person doesn't know and they are literally in our EVERY DAY LIVES!

With taking a Latin class you can improve your English vocabulary/ understand big words. This can lead to better test scores on your SAT and improve your math skills. With your awesome Latin knowledge you can really get an understanding of abbreviaiton in our everyday lives that you can apply to life, and even make you sound intelligent!

Keep in mind that Latin can help you in many different languages of European countries. Latin is the base of all romance languages including Spanish, French, German, etc! Knowing Latin gives you the upper hand to learn any of these languages a lot quicker.

There is still more to discover!

If you live in Marysville, Washington going into the ISC or even if your local schools are offering Latin, TAKE THE CLASS!!!


To get a visual and amazing representation why Latin is so great and just the language for you, check out this video made by one of ISC's Latin students:

LATIN 2012

Friday, February 3, 2012

Son of Neptune Book Review!

I've officially written a book review for the Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan! I've always been pretty natural at book reviewing but I'm so caught up in book writing/ reading! (I should book review more often!) If you are looking to learn about the Son of Neptune, the skills of Rick Riordan, or are just looking for a beautiful and logical way to learn Greek mythology, THAN THIS IS THE BLOG POST FOR YOU!!! Here you go guys! Hope you enjoy this pure awesomeness :D

   After the Prophecy where Percy Jackson and the Olympians defeat the Titan Lord Cronus, all is well until Percy Jackson mysteriously disappears from camp. In the search for him, we follow the story of Jason Grace, a demigod who has no memory of his life or even who he is, who also mysteriously appears on a school bus for a field trip to the Grand Canyon with girlfriend, Piper; and “best friend,” Leo. At Percy Jackson’s disappearance, these 3 go on a quest to rescue Hera and Piper’s father from capture. There they discover the evil forces behind these impeccable captures as Gaea’s forces that are in a long awaited process to raise her once again to wipe out the Gods and Mount Olympus. Jason also learns after some recollection of memory after the quest that he is really from a Roman camp called Camp Jupiter and Percy Jackson has disappeared to this exact place. This flip-flop may be no coincidence we have ever heard of in any Greek mythology story ever told to mankind.

        Percy Jackson, a previously famous Greek demigod-son of Poseidon, has returned to this new Heroes of Olympus series as a demigod with no memory waking up after a “long sleep.” The talking wolf, Lupa, has trained him for a month like every new roman demigod and has set him out on the world to find sanctuary at Camp Jupiter. He has no memory (like Jason Grace) of his previous life except a name…one name: Annabeth. After his month of running constantly from monsters and what-not, Percy Jackson must go on the ultimate quest: the Prophecy of 7 with demigods, Frank and Hazel who aren’t just any ordinary demigods off the street either. Frank, a son of Mars, has a secret that may kill him if anyone knew. Hazel is a half-sister to the Percy Jackson series’, Nico di Angelo- children of Hades, who also has a HUGE secret that makes her a bit unnerved to go back…let’s just say home. Camp Jupiter is located in the Middle Of Nowhere, Rocky Mountains USA, where the entrance is really in San Francisco, CA. The location for this quest is located in Alaska where these 3 must travel there and back to Camp Jupiter by June 24th. This trio is more connected to the previous book’s characters, Jason Grace, Piper, and Leo, than you may think for most of this book.

        Percy Jackson MUST get to Camp Jupiter, except…the Gorgon sisters have been chasing him from state-to-state, not really dying and just reforming. Obviously the Underworld is having some serious problems that no one can really answer yet. Percy is desperate to get to the safety of Camp Jupiter, away from these undying monsters chasing him constantly. When he FINALLY finds the entrance in San Francisco, he finds this hippy named June, who gives him a choice: he can carry her to Camp Jupiter and across the highway and Tiber River to get his memory back and save the world…or flee to the safety of the sea to be safe and live a long, happy life. Of course he sees that the first option is the right thing to do down to his soul. He carries her where he meets Camp Jupiter guards, Hazel and Frank, who fight off the Gorgons while he runs to the camp. At the camp, Percy meets Reyna, the Praetor of Camp Jupiter where she knows something about Percy but unwilling to spill the beans. The hippy Percy has to carry past the Tiber reveals herself to be the Goddess, Juno (Hera). She announces to all Camp Jupiter (and Percy himself) that he is the Son of Neptune and has been sleeping for a month or two. The Camp of course wants Percy apart of their legion with all his amazing powers and abilities to fight like no other roman. During some battles against cohorts, Mars appears to the camp revealing that Frank Zhang is his son and that he must go on an INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT quest with two others.  As the quickly connected friends found among the trio: Frank, Hazel, and Percy; these three go on the quest. On this quest as Percy is trying to regain his memory, Hazel reveals that she died and brought back to life thanks to her half-brother, Nico, and the fact that the Underworld is in chaos for some unknown reasons. Frank also has a MAJOR weakness that turns out to be a stick but not any ordinary stick. This stick is literally his life force! If this stick is desecrated in any way shape or form, he will die. The farther on this quest goes by the hour, the more the fate of these heroes seems already planned out for them and the end result of the quest bigger than they could ever have imagined. The question is: what is really the cause for everything leading up to each of these demigods lives at this point? Everything that has happened in their pasts is no coincidence!

        When you read this book, a huge theme is INCREDIBLY EVIDENT that gives the overall purpose Rick Riordan wrote an entirely new series to connect to his Percy Jackson series! It is not just to play with some awesome new myths, monsters, and stories he hasn’t been able to put a spin on yet but gets to write a side where the only way the demigods and the gods can fight such a huge menace such as Gaea, mother Earth, is for these two completely different groups of people to work together. The only way you can defeat Gaea and her forces out to destroy the Olympic Pantheon is for the Gods and demigods to work together. This theory was proven in the end of the book where Terminus and Percy Jackson team together (kind of unwillingly) to take down the giant, Polybotes. Percy challenges Polybotes to a duel and deliberately calls to Terminus’ help to really see if this theory is correct to bring down the enemy where Percy ends up throwing Terminus’ head into Polybotes skull. Together a god and a demigod took down Gaea’s nearly indestructible giant!

This series includes monsters, gods and goddesses, and classics references from the world’s encyclopedia of everything Greek mythology! Monsters included in the series are: the Gorgon sisters, Stheno and Euryale. Creatures that frequent the series are harpies’ like a special harpy named Ella they befriend in Alaska; Arion the Steed of Heroes who has an amazing ability to run at a speed as fast as planes (maybe even faster…); Cyclopes like the Percy Jackson’s half-brother, Tyson; a hellhound: Mrs. O’Leary owned by Percy (previously owned by Daedalus; . Giants become a pretty important factor in the evil forces of Gaea like Alcyoneus, and Polybotes who have been known to help her over-throw the Gods of Mount Olympus with Gaea. Gods and Goddesses mentioned/ participating in awesome roles in the book would be like Juno at the start of the book (note that she had a role in the Lost Hero as well!); Neptune a.k.a: Poseidon; Mars turning out as Frank’s father; Thanatos, the god of Death, who they must rescue in this ultimate quest since he is chained up in Alaska, most likely a trap for our heroes and the reason why the Underworld is going crazy because he is not guarding the Doors of Death; and Terminus, the god of borders, who guards Camp Jupiter as this statue (torso and up) and is the WORST OCD/everything must be clean etc. Rome mentions of awesomeness include the Tiber River (located in the Rocky Mountains where Camp Jupiter is located by; Praetors, Roman commanders of an army (in this book’s case: Camp Jupiter’s army) where there are two praetors per legion where the only surviving legion after the Fall of Rome is the Twelfth Legion Fulminata; cohorts are also used in Camp Jupiter where Percy, Frank, and Piper are in the Fifth Cohort; and last but not least: part of what Camp Jupiter is shamefully missing is their eagle, the pride of the Twelfth Legion, that is located in Alaska where Thanatos is chained.

The Son of Neptune WAS OUT OF THIS EARTH-AMAZING!!! I can’t see any better way you could learn about the myths than reading these books! You learn so much about Greek mythology and the Romans in such a fun and creative way that I will never forget the god of borders, Terminus for being SUPER OCD, for example. Rick Riordan successfully established amazing, stocked packed, Greek mythology, awesomeness where you will never want to go to bed and actually rather read and never want to sleep BECAUSE LEARNING GREEK MYTHOLOGY WAS NEVER MORE FUN!!! This book I would recommend to anyone of any age! Rick Riordan is and has always been a fantastic writer and never gives you chances to put that book down! This book was truly amazing but I 100% give you the advice to read the previous books that are just as amazing! Read the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series first where the first book is The Lightning Thief (made into a movie in February of 2009) where there are 5 books in the series total. I guarantee you some unforgettable laughs out of this and a truly great time reading (even if you aren’t the reading type). If you need to learn Greek mythology for school in any way, this is the way to go and you won’t regret picking up these books what-so-ever.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Making mistakes to LEARN!

Today I will "kindly" make an example out of Strange Angels by Lili St. Crow ONLY so that we can learn from the writing mistakes! What you can get from this? NOT TO MAKE THE SAME MISTAKES!

Alright I'll walk you through the beginning of the book (conveniently this is book 1). The story starts out introducing the life of Dru Anderson, a girl living differently from other teens with her father killing creatures that go bump in the night, they move every three months, she goes to school...sometimes, and to top the cake: she understands how the real world is different than the normal world and likes to show off in her head (to us readers) that she has everything all figured out.
Do you see something the author is trying to achieve? Crow is, as a YA (Young Adult) author, trying to connect to teens as a way to get more readers. But as a teen myself I can tell you that this teen view, besides the fact that this girl does not live a "normal" life style because of her supernatural involvement, isn't connecting to it's readers because the psychology is all wrong (this is a reason you should learn about psychology!) Teens don't all skip school, think their better than everyone else (unless they have a HUGE ego), or are all living the same way where this particular girl is different IN EVERY HUMAN-LIKE WAY!

Than you have to think: well if I am connecting to my readers, they are teenagers but book readers aren't the bad type and are usually more mature and don't really care about the losers at school. I shouldn't make my main character someone these people can't relate to! IT JUST ISN'T GOING TO WORK! Also keep in mind that what Mrs. Crow's "achieving" here is a good reason for a teen to not read your book and a majority of the readers will will unknowingly agree to this. :D

Also I've noticed the book just keeps talking and talking (read one page of the first chapter and you'll get what I mean) AND NONE OF IT IS REALLY IMPORTANT! Please don't do this either! You are giving your readers more of a reason to drop your book because you're working hard to "connect" with your readers. But what gets a book SELLING LIKE CRAZY is to give them a reason to not stop and put down your book because your book is so good that they literally have to stop themselves so they can go to bed!

A beautiful way to keep your readers flipping through those pages is chapter endings (literally already discussed is a previous blog post!) because that's where most book readers want to stop and take a break. Reminder: your chapter endings should be at a part where something traumatic/ unthinkable happens. The reader will go crazy and have to keep reading! This is a sure-fire-way to be a successful author.

In Strange Angels I can tell Mrs. Crow is trying her very best to achieve this but it's not really happening. The fact that she tried gives her points when publishing though!

At the end of the prologue, she ends with: "I never saw Dad alive again."
THIS IS A GOOD ENDING! The only problem is that Crow pretty much bores you with how Dru Anderson's life got so messed up. But Crow is just throwing out there all this information that has somewhat of importance for later but 80% is just "FLUFF." We don't really need to hear all this fluff because IT ISN'T IMPORTANT! Importance means everything to teens (hey you chose to be a YA author). This fluff is only in the book so it can connect to teens the "readers" and we have already pointed out that this is NOT connecting to the readers so it's just all wrong O.o

At the end of chapter 1, Crow ends with: "Maybe if I embarrass the kid he'll leave me alone." This is NOT working the "sure-fire" way of chapter endings because the book STILL hasn't picked up speed, has a bunch of fluff, and is continuously giving the reader a main character with a BIG ego and a bad example! I can see why Crow ends with this only because the chapter was 13 pages and it just "feels" like a good ending. Keep in mind that these type of chapters are acceptable in books so you can give the reader sometimes a break so they don't read your book in one day. Except in cases such as this one. The book is STILL in it's beginning and isn't really getting anywhere except Dru's constant worrying for her father blah blah blah. YOU CAN'T USE THIS METHOD IN THE BEGINNING! This book is just moving too slowly and isn't written in a way to gather up some readers!

Get your book rolling QUICKLY! It's also more fun for you to write and it makes your readers antsy for more and selling your books off the shelves like crazy! Just be careful with the planning of your book so that you can throw out all surprises at the end of your chapters so that you can have a super sweet and rolling book. OUTLINES ARE YOUR FRIENDS!!!

At the end of the 2nd chapter, Crow ends with: "When I woke up in the morning, Dad still wasn't there." CONGRATULATIONS Mrs. Crow, you have finally accomplished the chapter ending theory with our conformation that Dru's worrying wasn't something totally useless! Then she transitions into an Intermezzo, a brief diversion from Dru Anderson. YOU'VE ACCOMPLISHED your readers to stick to your book (if they are still even giving you a chance after 2 chapters and a prologue with a total of 28 pages of FLUFF) to actually give them a reason to buy/ finish the book!!!

Remember guys that you need to have a good story line of awesomeness lining up for those chapter endings, a quick beginning so your readers will buy the book, and a good main character to connect to your REAL readers.

For example we could have gone through the beginning in a much cooler, simpler, and more interesting way: start the book off with a tragic reason in Dru Anderson's point of when her grandmother died and how the things she taught you you must keep strong as she dies in your arms (Crow tries this but isn't using her 1st point of view to her advantage). This is much more dramatic and simpler way to add in fluff so you can get to know your main character and a quick way to start; including a VERY good reason for your readers to buy the book.

For the fluff transitions into your book, just slip them in but don't load your beginning with it. HUGE TURN OFF. As pre-teen author, Susan Selfors, once said: give your readers to kill for that info by slipping the fluff every once in a while. This gives the readers a hunger for it (instead of piles of it- like homework) so they can connect the dots to your book's problem/ plot.

A cool example of that would be like in Richelle Mead's Vampire Academy books, the first book starts out a year (or two) after Rose an Lissa escaped the academy for unknown reasons and are now being dragged back. Through out that book, they try to figure out how they can stay at the academy by fighting/ learning what they are afraid of. Mead gives the reader flashbacks of right before they left the academy (the reasons why they left). This gives the reader fluff in doses so you can learn with the main characters the solution to the problem.

Another example would be in Silence, the Hush Hush book 3 by Becca Fitzpatrick, where it's all of a sudden 3 months later from the end of the previous novel and the main character has lost her memory of it all. The author gives, the readers in Silence, doses of information of those three months through out the book while the main character learns what really happened.
Hope this helps in your books!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Cassandra Clare must know some Psychology

After reading her #1 New York Times Bestseller: Clockwork Prince, Cassandra Clare never disappointed me with her master piece of a Victorian era with Shadowhunters and the unbelievable connection to her Mortal Instruments series. Yet I couldn't help but notice something truly remarkable about Clare's characters and how she can come up with beautiful complications for her plots.

You see, in both Mortal Instruments series and the prequel series: The Infernal Devices, Clare comes up with these characters and these truly dramatic conflicts that somehow fit together in both series but anyone can get a kick out of it.

In the Mortal Instruments, you can't help but find it like a soap opera that's 100% not corny! I'll tell you what really gathers the fan base of this series together: the conflict Clare brings in is the strange affection between two characters (Jace and Clary) who struggle with the fact that they are brother and sister. Or are they?

Clare also brings in a new set of characters to the prequel series, The Infernal Devices, where the story revolves around 2 boys that are best friends (practically brothers) falling in love with the same girl. One boy dieing from an illness and the other who (mysteriously) can't have anyone fall in love with him.

Cassandra Clare comes up with these conflicts between people and throws them into an urban fantasy world of Shadowhunters, warlocks, werewolves, demons, and even vampires.

That's the trick, my beautiful writers! Psychology, the study of people, is the key to a beautiful spiderweb conflict and plot to create a story worth getting published! My older step sister took a couple classes on psychology and she told me, a girl studying to be an author, that when reading books she can't but notice the psychology of the characters.

For those of you who plan to get as much out of college as possible and plan to keep in mind writing books, TAKE SOME PSYCHOLOGY CLASSES!!!

Cassandra Clare has created an amazing artwork of books with beautifully crafted characters, plots, and a creative world that she has become quite successful. From my study of Cassandra Clare's writing and her breathtaking surprises that she could only have created from psychology research, I really think you should seriously consider taking psychology classes in college and use this knowledge to your advantage to come up with some amazing stories that will wow anyone who comes across them.