Posted in Teen

Tween Meme for the Emblazoners!

Hello everyone! I hope all is well with you! Today is the fourth Wednesday of the month and that means it’s our Tween Meme day! Whoo hoo!

Today I’d like to talk about a book that I read recently. It’s a story by Sarah Dessen and it’s titled, “What happened to Goodbye.” I have to tell you, when I first picked it up, I wasn’t sure about it. I mean when I think of Sarah Dessen, I think of Girlie Girls. I’ve always been a bit of a Tomboy. 🙂 So, I was a little hesitant at first.

However, once I got into the story I was hooked. It’s a story about a family that’s torn apart by a bitter divorce. While the parents are fighting over custody, their teenage daughter is being pulled in all kinds of directions and she’s slowly unraveling. But her parents aren’t paying attention because they’re dealing with their own issues.

It was an interesting read and I absolutely LOVED how McLean’s relationship with Dave developed. It was incredibly sweet and nostalgic. The story tugged at my heart strings and I’m sure it will tug at yours as well.

It is an excellent story to recommend to tweens who are trying to figure out who they are, or have parents who are going through a divorce. It’s told from McLean’s perspective and she gives us insight on how a tween/teen might view that type of situation.

This story also shows how a relationship should develop between a boy and a girl. The two become friends and then the relationship slowly evolves into something more.  It’s a great story to illustrate how a relationship should start. I would highly recommend this story to tweens. The cover and blurb are below.

Since her parents’ bitter divorce, Mclean and her dad, a restaurant consultant, have been on the move – four towns in two years. Estranged from her mother and her mother’s new family, Mclean has followed her dad in leaving the unhappy past behind. And each new place gives her a chance to try out a new persona: from cheerleader to drama diva. But now, for the first time, Mclean discovers a desire to stay in one place and just be herself – whoever that is. Perhaps her neighbor Dave, an academic superstar trying to be just a regular guy, can help her find out. Combining Sarah Dessen’s trademark graceful writing, great characters, and compelling storytelling, What Happened to Goodbye is irresistible reading.

Thanks for stopping by today. Do you have a book you’d like to recommend? Leave the title in the comments, I’d love to read what it is!

And check out the Emblazoner  Tween the Weekend Page!  See what the other Emblazoner authors are up to! The link is below:

Posted in reviews, Teen

Book Reviews for “If I Stay” and “Where She Went” by Gayle Forman

Hello Everyone! I hope all is well with you. I’ve been on vacation this week with the family and I must say it has been cold the last few days. So when I can’t enjoy the sun I like to read. And I must say I’ve read two awesome books this week. I read both of them in one day…they were that good.

The first one is titled, “If I Stay” by Gayle Forman. I must say this book rocked. The emotion and character development blew me away. I loved it. I identified with the main character Mia and I fell in love with her and her friends and family. All the characters were very real to me.

This is an incredibly sad story though. Make sure you have a box of tissue handy.

 The second book I read is the sequel to “If I stay.” It’s titled, “Where she went.” I loved this book even more than the first one. I got to know Mia’s boyfriend Adam in this story.  I must say I loved Adam. He was actually so strong and his love for Mia was unwavering. It’s one of those “I just can’t put down” books. It’s an emotional read so you’ll need another box of tissue for this one too, but this one has a happy ending.

I will definitely be reading more of Gayle Forman’s books.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. If you’ve got a book you’d recommend please do so by leaving the title in the comments. I’m trying to get back into the habit of reading. I’ve been writing so much lately that I haven’t had time to read.  I’m trying to change that.  🙂

Posted in Health, Teen

Tween Meme for the Emblazoners!

Hello Everyone! I hope all is well with you! This is the first Wednesday in which the Emblazoners are participating in our Tween Meme. So, I thought I’d write about a book that I’m currently reading.  It’s title “Girls Succeed: Stories behind the Careers of Successful Women.”  The author is JQ Rose who was a guest here a few weeks ago.

Girls Succeed Cover 333x500 picnicI’m enjoying this book immensely. This is not a piece of fiction. This book is a collection of stories about successful women and how they got where they are. It is very inspiring especially for young girls in those “tween” years.

If I had a daughter, I would get this book for her. It’s inspiring and informative. It illustrates girls who dared to pursue their passion. And isn’t that what the tween years are all about? Finding your passion?

Dare to dream. That’s what we should be teaching our tweens don’t you think?  This book has everything from horse trainers, to cyclists, to authors, and doctors. The message in these stories is crystal clear. You can be whatever you want to be all you have to do is choose. I love it.

It tells our tweens that the power is in their hands. And that’s an important message. As women we have to take responsibility for our own happiness, we can’t rely on anyone else to make us happy.  And once they get that message and own it just think how our tweens will be empowered. And think about that next generation as parents and leaders, they’ll do a tremendous job teaching their tweens that same message.

So, if you have a young tween that you’d like to inspire, check out JQ Rose’s book.

The cover and blurb are below. I’m enjoying it immensely and I think your tween will too.

Girls Succeed Cover 333x500 picnicIn my non-fiction ebook for girls, Girls Succeed: Stories Behind the Careers of Successful Women, the family of a woman I interviewed moved so many times when she was a child, she couldn’t make friends. She was always the odd one in a group. Because she didn’t want to stand out, she tried to hide how smart she was and was not proud of it. Finally her last few years in high school, she joined the band and sports teams and made friends. She blossomed into the person she really was. She is now a medical doctor and researcher at a university.

We’ve discussed non-fiction, but did you know that reading fiction is just as important? That’s right! Just check out this article from the New York Times titled “Your brain on Fiction.”

I was so excited when I read this!  I felt like my passion was serving a higher purpose.

It has been proven that reading improves self-esteem, social skills, and analytical skills. So, I got together with some other authors who feel the same way I do. We have our own website and our books are geared toward the tween age group, and every fourth Wednesday of the month we write a tween meme on our blog.

So, check it out and check out all the books that are available for tweens! The link is below!

Thanks for stopping by my blog today! Please leave a comment and let me know your thoughts!

Posted in reviews, Teen

Book Review of “Paper Towns” by John Green

Hello Everyone! I hope all is well with you.  I hope everyone is enjoying their summer. I know I am! The summer season goes by waaaayy to fast for me, so I try to fit as much fun as I can in during those three short months.

We were on vacation a couple of weeks ago and I actually had some down time. J So, I spent time lounging in the sun and reading! Yes, reading. It’s been a long time since I’ve sat down and just enjoyed a book! I’ve been so busy with my own writing and promoting that I’ve put reading on the back burner.

Well, needless to say, I read a book while sitting in the sun and enjoying the breeze that cooled my skin.  The book I read is titled “Paper Towns” by John Green.

When Margo Roth Spiegelman beckons Quentin Jacobsen in the middle of the night—dressed like a ninja and plotting an ingenious campaign of revenge—he follows her. Margo’s always planned extravagantly, and, until now, she’s always planned solo. After a lifetime of loving Margo from afar, things are finally looking up for Q . . . until day breaks and she has vanished. Always an enigma, Margo has now become a mystery. But there are clues. And they’re for Q.



I must say that I really enjoyed the book. I loved the character Margo. Such a brave girl and to see her through the eyes of Quentin who has had a crush on her forever was unique. I haven’t read that many books that gives the boys perspective on the “high school crush” theme.

I enjoyed the bond that Quentin developed with his two closest friends, Ben and Radar. It reminded me of my high school days and the bonds of friendship that I had developed with my friends.  I also enjoyed the secret crush that Quentin had on Margo and how she became a mystery that he needed to figure out.

That is the theme of this story, figuring out Margo Roth Spieglman. In the beginning, I said that she was brave and she was. I loved her character, her ability to find fun in any situation and her ability to stand up to her parents.

In the story, she chooses to disappear and Quentin is bent on finding her. He gets his friends involved and they travel cross country following clues that she has left behind for Quentin.

This story kept me turning the pages I wanted to solve the mystery of Margo Roth Spieglman just as much as Quentin did. The ending was a little sad. I’m a big believer in a happy ending so when Margo is found and they find out that she didn’t really want to be…well a few sparks fly.

It was also bittersweet to find out that while Quentin had been harboring a crush on Margo, she had been harboring a crush on him.  It reminded me of high school in so many ways and the secret crushes we all harbor and never get a chance to act upon.  So there you have it, my review of “Paper Towns” by John Green. It’s well worth the read! I’ll be getting another one of his books for my next trip up north!

Thanks for stopping by my blog and taking the time to read my review. If you’d like to give me a suggestion for my next book, please do! Leave me a comment. I’m always looking for good reads!

Posted in reviews

Review of “Wednesday Wars”

Hello everyone! I hope all is well with you!  I’ve had a very busy month with quite a few workshops and personal appearances. It has been a lot of fun!  However, I needed to de-stress so I decided to read a book!

The book I chose to read was “Wednesday Wars” by Gary Schmidt.  It won the Newberry Honor Award and I must say it certainly deserved it.

Here’s a little bit about the book.

In this Newbery Honor-winning novel, Gary D. Schmidt offers an unforgettable antihero. THE WEDNESDAY WARS is a wonderfully witty and compelling story about a teenage boy’s mishaps and adventures over the course of the 1967–68 school year.

Meet Holling Hoodhood, a seventh-grader at Camillo Junior High, who must spend Wednesday afternoons with his teacher, Mrs. Baker, while the rest of the class has religious instruction. Mrs. Baker doesn’t like Holling—he’s sure of it. Why else would she make him read the plays of William Shakespeare outside class? But everyone has bigger things to worry about, like Vietnam. His father wants Holling and his sister to be on their best behavior: the success of his business depends on it. But how can Holling stay out of trouble when he has so much to contend with? A bully demanding cream puffs; angry rats; and a baseball hero signing autographs the very same night Holling has to appear in a play in yellow tights! As fate sneaks up on him again and again, Holling finds Motivation—the Big M—in the most unexpected places and musters up the courage to embrace his destiny, in spite of himself.

My thoughts:

I loved this story! I loved how Mr. Schmidt brought the characters to life. I must say that my favorite was Holling Hoodhood’s teacher. It was amazing how she challenged Holling every step of the way to learn more, to strive for more, and to ultimately reach his potential. I think every kid would love to have a teacher like that, someone to believe in you when your own parents don’t have the time.

That’s one thing that bothered me about the story. The only reason it bothered me is because it’s an accurate portrayal of many family situations. Parents get so caught up in putting food on the table that they forget to provide the emotional support that their children need.

This is an amazing story of a young seventh grader who suffers the trials and tribulations of Jr. High. He finds support in an unlikely ally…his teacher.  I would strongly recommend that young boys read this story. I know I’m going to recommend it to my sons when they’re old enough. I will definitely be reading more of Mr. Schmidt’s books. 🙂

Thanks for taking the time to read my post. Please leave a comment and share your thoughts! I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Guest Author, promotion

Please welcome Author Heidi Nicole Bird as she shares her New Release “Ontario” with us!

Hello Everyone! I hope all is well with you! I’ve got Heidi Nicole Bird with us today and she’s sharing her new release “Ontario” with us! But wait there’s more! She’s also sharing her thoughts on bringing characters to life, so you’ll want to keep on reading until the end! She’s got some great stuff for us! 🙂

Take it away Heidi!

Ontario final ebook cover“Don’t worry, Ontario, I’ll never leave you. You will always have me here to protect you and your brother.”

Those words from a childhood memory would haunt Ontario Stratton for the rest of her life. Losing her father had been difficult enough, but her life would change even more drastically at the beginning of her senior year of high school. Only weeks into the school year Mrs. Stratton abandons her two children for a more carefree way of living. Suddenly thrown into a very different life, Ontario clings to her brother Eddy, her new legal guardian, and to no one else. Could she trust anyone anymore? Even her best friend isn’t there for her. . .

In order to feel like less of a burden on her brother, Ontario gets a job at the local fifties-style diner. It is there that she meets her new “family,” including the oh-so-intriguing Austin, the only one who can help her truly heal. In time, Ontario discovers that Austin has his own demons, and that he needs her just as much as she needs him. Some things in Ontario’s life begin to come together again, but others continue to fall apart. Though her world seems to be breaking, she is introduced to a kind of happiness she has never known before, and her new found friends show her that maybe, just maybe, she can learn to love again.

Keep reading and learn how Heidi brings these characters to life!

                               Bringing Your Characters to Life

One of the things that really makes a book for me is a good character. Maybe that sounds like a “duh” sort of thing to say, but hear me out. I have read fabulous stories with fabulous characters, but I’ve also read some really great stories that didn’t quite make it to the “fabulous” category because the characters had something lacking. For me, the story could be fantastic and the author could be well known, but if the characters in the story aren’t that great, then it’s likely that I won’t pick up that book again.  Here’s the thing: characters make the story. Even if you have a great story idea it won’t seem great to your readers if your characters aren’t memorable. Creating great characters that my audience will love is one thing I really try hard to do, so I thought I’d share some thoughts on just how you go about creating a great character.

  1. Name – Okay, let me share my philosophy on names for a second. I like creating new and unique names as much as the next author, but I also think you can go way too far with that. If there’s one thing that distracts me during a story it is a writer who makes all the names so different that I can’t remember who the characters are. I do like unique names, I do! But, if every single character in your book has a name nobody has ever heard before it gets hard for your reader to keep them all straight, especially when the name doesn’t make it clear that the character is male or female. You probably won’t run into this problem as much if your book has few characters, but lots of characters with unique names = bad stuff.
  1. Looks – Another thing that bothers me is when I make it through a book without ever knowing what the author intended the main character to look like. Honestly, I may not even make it through the book if that happens. As the author you already know what all of your characters look like, but don’t forget that your readers don’t! This doesn’t mean you should randomly stop the flow of the story to give a detailed description of each character, but it does mean that you need to incorporate details into your narration. This goes the same for gender as well. Make sure you establish the gender of your characters, especially if your main character is telling the story.
  1. Personality – For me this is the biggest thing. Your characters have to be different. They have to have quirks. Maybe one character likes to make fancy little doilies and another one likes to watch pro-wrestling when kids are asleep. Whatever it is, your characters need to have depth. They need to have identifying characteristics or they won’t be memorable. Think about people in your own life. I bet you could pick someone, anyone, and think of personality traits that are unique to them, things that set them apart. That’s what you need to do with your characters. It’s great to have a character who is confident and happy all the time, but think about how boring it would be if all your characters were like that! Unless your story is about clones then make sure your characters are different, identifiable, and memorable.
  1. Flaws – This is another thing I think is very important. Sure, everybody likes a Super Man, but honestly, even he had his flaws. Your characters can’t be perfect or they won’t be believable, and neither will your story. If everything goes flawlessly for your character then there is something wrong. Nobody’s life is like that, so your readers will have nothing to connect to. Create weaknesses in your character. As bad as that sounds, you need to do it. They can’t be rock solid. Something has to make them breakdown, make them seem human.
  1. Keep your Readers Learning – Let me explain. When you first experience a character you need to know some basic things about them, as was discussed in point number 2, but you can’t, and shouldn’t tell everything about your character right from the get go. Well, I suppose you could if you really wanted to, but that would make for a rather interesting beginning to your story, which would start to sound more like a biography. You don’t want to go too far in the other direction either though. If your character can be completely described in a few sentences then you definitely have some fleshing out to do. Do your initial introduction at the beginning of your story, or wherever they enter the picture, and then throughout the story let your readers get to know them better. It’s just like when you first meet someone who later becomes your best friend. By the time you are best friends surely you have learned more about then than you did during your first meeting.

I’ve only covered five things in this list, but I think each of them are important to consider. I also think there are many other things that need to be thought about when creating character. As overwhelming as it seems, making a great, believable, relatable character isn’t that hard. Just try it out, using these tips, or other ones. As an exercise, think about your favorite book character. Analyze that character and make a list of why you like them so much, then try making a character of your own. The better your characters are, the better your story will be.


***Sorry about the numbers above, I copied and pasted this from Word and I can’t seem to get the numbers corrected in WordPress….thanks for your patience! 🙂


Author Photo 300 DPIAuthor Bio

Heidi Nicole Bird has been writing for as long as she can remember and it is her favorite thing in the world. Heidi is a regular NaNoWriMo participant and is mostly a young adult fantasy writer, but also likes to write juvenile fiction and other genres. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from Brigham Young University and she looks forward to exploring the genre of historical fiction. Heidi lives in Utah with her family and three dogs, and loves working from home as a full time writer.

Also by Heidi Nicole Bird, Through the Paper Wall


Links to Ontario:

Paperback                                       Kindle Store

Ontario on Goodreads

Thanks Heidi for sharing your wisdom with us and being a guest today!

Please leave a comment for Heidi and share your thoughts with us! We’d love to hear from you!