Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! I hope you have a great day spending time with your family and friends, eating, opening presents, giving presents, eating more, and watching football (:D)

This is my favorite song this Christmas. Mary did you Know by Rascal Flatts

annddd this song was shown to me by my Bible teacher. It's so bad it's funny. :)

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

I believe..

A couple of weeks ago, my Literature teacher assigned us a creative writing essay. "What do you Believe?" He said that we could write about anything and it could be as short or as long as we liked. I thought that I would share mine with you all. :D

Fighting For What Is Important
by Traci

Every day, many medical questions are answered, but even more remain unanswered. I believe in fighting for life because I don’t need a “yes” or “no” or a personal opinion from any expert or doctor to tell me that from the moment of conception babies are alive and thriving.

Unborn babies are the purest and the most beautiful. They are aware of their surroundings and know more than we think they do. God created them for goodness sake; they are going to be unpredictable and amazing. The possibility that we will know how aware a baby is in the womb, is doubtful, but their reflexes are working from the very beginning. When a baby is being sucked down a tube on request from the parent, they shrink away from the instrument of pain. If only the mother could see how much they both need each other.

The day after I was born, I was adopted into a wonderful family. I have no regrets, but I used to wonder why my birth mother didn’t try harder. If she had we could still be together. I couldn’t have been more wrong. She had fought for me. She chose to give birth and that decision was extremely tough. Friends pressured her to have an abortion. They wanted her to walk up the stairs of the clinic, kill me, and walk back down, never looking back. She stood strong though and didn’t break. Fighting for my life was worth going against her friends, and because of that I’m still here. Because of the mothers who are fighting, some children are able to survive and have an opportunity at life. But shouldn’t we all be fighting for the helpless unborn and their right to exist?

Fighting for what you believe in, or more specifically, fighting for life is noble and courageous. What could be more important than life? By fighting now, our children will be able to experience the joys and hardships of life and hopefully their children will continue that battle through their generations.

Merry Christmas Eve Everyone!!!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Interview with Mary Pope Osborne

Welcome to my segment of Mary Pope Osborne's Blog Tour. I was so honored to be able to interview her and believe she is a truly amazing woman. Enjoy! See my post below for more info...

One of the most commonly asked questions to authors is something like, "What would be your word of advice to aspiring writers?" Most answers are to write, write, and write. If you don't agree with this, what is your advice? If you do, what was it that helped you continue writing on and on?

I’m of the ‘write-write-write school” too; but with a twist: Rewrite, rewrite, rewrite”; and every time, try to make it better. I’m amazed at how many kids think that once they’ve written something, it’s done. I shock them when I tell them that I rewrite a Magic Tree House chapter 20 times or more. Most of my work is rewriting, in fact. I also advise aspiring writers to take a break when they get really stuck. I take lots of breaks – to play with the dogs, make a cup of tea, talk to Will. When I come back to the work, very often my subconscious has solved the problem…And finally, I advise writers to find at least one person whom they can trust to share their work with…or even a small group of people. We all need feedback. I wouldn’t have a career as a writer without help from my husband Will. For thirty years he’s been my first reader and listener.

What were some of your favorite books as a kid?

I loved books of fairy tales and Bible stories and the Little House on the Prairie books, and Nancy Drew, and The Little Princess and The Secret Garden. I remember my two favorite picture books were called The Three Ugly Sisters and Big Farmer Big, both of which have been out of print for many years. Imagine my joy last year when I opened my Christmas present from my husband Will and found a copy of Big Farmer Big. Knowing how much I’d loved it, he’d been searching for it for years and had finally found a copy on Ebay. Just looking at the pictures made me feel 4 years old again. It’s now displayed prominently in my study.

I love those books as well! Funny thing, I just finished being in the play of The Secret Garden. :) I see that you have experience in theater. How has the stage affected your life?

The stage was the first outlet I found for my creativity. In my teens, I spent nearly every free hour outside high school acting or working in a community theater in our town in North Carolina. I studied dramatic arts at the University of North Carolina, and then years later, married an actor – my husband, Will. Now my writing life and my theater past have really come together by being involved with a show written by Will and composer Randy Courts -- Magic Tree House: the Musical. It’s traveling the country now, on a national tour.

Have you always wanted Jack and Annie's story on stage? If not, how did everything work into place for Magic Tree House: The Musical to happen?

Over the years, I’ve turned down offers to have Magic Tree House turned into movies or television shows or video games, because I want kids to read, and I want the books and characters to stay in children’s imaginations. Theater, though, is different from the electronic and digital world. A show is not frozen in time. It’s never performed exactly the same way twice. It requires a live audience to fully realize itself. The actors and audience are collaborators in the same way that readers and authors are collaborators.

I’ve always felt that way, so one day when Will and a wonderful man who’s a composer were working together on a show, I passed through the room and said, ‘You guys should think of writing a musical based on Magic Tree House.” They looked at each other…and the next thing I knew, I was being invited into their work space to hear a song. It was so beautiful, I cried. More great songs followed. Basing their show on book # 29, Christmas in Camelot; Will and Randy expanded and deepened the original text, making it appeal to adults as well as kids. They created a huge Broadway-style show with two-story high dragon puppets, over twenty human-size puppets, Knights of the Round Table, fairy dancers, and of course, Jack and Annie. Their musical is touring the country now, and Will and I are traveling to many places to see it. For anyone who’s interested in learning more about the musical, there’s a tour schedule and lots of fun information at

Whenever I bought the newest Magic Tree House book, the first thing I would do (and still do), would be to flip to the back and see what book was coming next. I was always amazed you were able to keep finding topics to write about. What was your inspiration for finding all the different places Jack and Annie went to?

I was constantly thinking of different topics that interest me, and when I’m out on the road, I ask kid audiences to vote on these topics. I often move to the forefront the ideas that kids want most. But if I want to write about a subject that might not interest kids at first glance, such as an adventure with William Shakespeare or with Leonardo Da Vinci, I try to think of an appealing title -- Stagefright on a Summer Night (my Shakespeare story) or Monday with a Mad Genius (my Leonardo story.) When I asked kids to vote on these titles instead of the subjects, they were really enthusiastic. Once kids read the books and got to know Shakespeare and Leonardo Da Vinci, I think they found them really exciting, too.

How far do you plan on taking Jack and Annie's adventures?

As long as I have a clear mind, hands that can type, and readers who want to read the books, I’ll write them. It’s so much fun, I can’t seem to stop.

You obviously have a great love for Greek mythology, medieval stories, etc. Would you say that stories should be a significant influence on our culture today? Why?

The old stories are with us everyday of our lives. References are constantly made to Bible stories. Greek and Norse myths flourish everywhere – from the names of cars and coffee shops to the names of constellations and days of the week. New stories are everywhere, too, but whether they realize it or not, modern storytellers are always drawing on the same elements present in the oldest stories. We all tell the hero’s tale over and over – whether it’s Odysseus, Frodo, Harry Potter or an American Girl, there are always protagonists, calls to adventure, enemies, obstacles, and good or bad resolutions.

What is your definition of a powerful book?

Any book that makes me feel excited to be alive.

If you could have the whole world's attention for 5 minutes, what would you say?

Wow, that’s one of the best questions I’ve ever been asked. I’ll give a simple answer: I would implore adults to tell their children to step away from the computer, turn off the TV, and either go play in the back yard, or find a cozy nook and read a book. And if your children don’t read well or simply don’t like to read, then read with them. Let them read a page, then you read a page. Take them to a library. Help them find books they love. Good books will help them discover other worlds and love life in “all its manifestations.” In the midst of pain, loss, economic deprivation, sometimes only books can transport us to other worlds. Most importantly, reading books (like playing in the back yard) will help develop a child’s imagination. A rich imagination will help him or her think creatively about how to solve problems – their own, as well as the world’s.

Thank you so much Mary Pope Osborne for making one of my dreams come true (see here)!

Also, check out the rest of this awesome blog tour below:

Thursday 12/18: The Page Flipper,
Friday 12/19: The Well- Read Child,

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Mary Pope Osborne Blog Tour

Mary Pope Osborne, author of the bestselling Magic Tree House series, is heading out on a blog tour. She is most known for her Magic Tree House books, which are the stories of a brother/sister team, Jack and Annie who travel all across the world, through time, to explore, solve mysteries, and discover new things. The books are favorites of early readers, and are perfect for beginning chapter books. This winter, the Magic Tree House musical will begin its tour through the US. For more information on that, visit

Below is a list of the blogs that will be featuring interviews with Mary during the following week. Mine airs the 17th! :D Yes, I got to interview her. My dream come true. Wow!
So please check out all of these amazing links and stay tuned for Wednesday!

Monday 12/15: Big A little a,

Tuesday 12/16: The Reading Zone,

Wednesday 12/17: Fields of Gold,

Thursday 12/18: The Page Flipper,

Friday 12/19: The Well- Read Child,

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Boise State Broncos 2008

Talk about another amazing football season. They won all twelve of their games and proudly wear the title of UNDEFEATED! :D Sadly, my favorite player (Ian Johnson, number 41) is graduating, so this was his last season. SNIFF


Coming up on my blog:
Review of the amazing book Necessary Heartbreak by M.J. Sullivan.
Update on my plays Dragonsong and Secret Garden (closing night tonight!)
Unbelievable news concerning Mary Pope Osbourne

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

The past couple years have been pretty rough on me and my family with all the changes in our life, but through it all God has been there. We never thought that on this day, we would be celebrating Thanksgiving with old friends, in our brand new house, for the first time. I am thankful to God for his ultimate plan for every single one of use and his continuing surprises in my life.
I wish you all a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Heroes of Faith

by Edgar De Witt Jones

By faith the voyaging Mayflower embarked
from Old England and found harbor off the
bleak New England shores.

By faith the Pilgrim Fathers set up a government
on a new continent dedicated to God and
inspired by a desire to do his will on earth as it is
done in heaven.

By faith Thomas Jefferson was stirred to strike a
blow for political independence and wrote the
thrilling document that declared that all men are
created equal and endowed with certain
inalienable rights.

By faith he said, "Love your neighbor as
yourself and your country more than yourself."

By faith George Washington left his spacious
mansion at Mount Vernon and espoused the
cause of the tax-burdened colonists.

By faith he forsook ease and comfort, choosing
rather to suffer hardship with his men at Valley
Forge than to enjoy the favor of a king.

By faith he became the President of the newly
born republic and endured as seeing Him who is

By faith Alexander Hamilton established the
financial credit of the nation. In the eloquent
words of Daniel Webster: "He touched the
corpse of public credit and it sprang into life.
He smote the rock of national resources and
abundant streams of revenue flowed."

By faith James Madison gave richly of his
scholarly mind to form the Federal Constitution.

By faith Andrew Jackson fought the battle of the
impoverished and underprivileged many against
the privileged few.

By faith Abraham Lincoln bore the awful burden
of four purgatorial years seeking to preserve the
Federal Union.

By faith he carried a dreadful war to its
conclusion without hate in his heart, saying, "I
have not only suffered for the South, I have
suffered with the South."

By faith Woodrow Wilson in the dreadful
heartbreak of a world war dreamed a dream of a
war less world in which the nations should be
leagued together to keep the peace.

By faith he glimpsed that promised land which,
like Moses, he might not enter. And what shall I more say?

For time would fail me if I should tell of that unnumbered host,
the unnamed and obscure citizens who bore
unimagined burdens, sacrificed in silence and
endured nobly, that a government of the people,
for the people, and by the people might not
perish from the earth.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

My Hero: Mary Pope Osborne

As long as I can remember, I have always enjoyed reading. There was a moment though, when the enjoyment became a love. This was after I was introduced to the Magic Tree House series. I was hooked. I proceeded to buy every one of Jack and Annie's adventures and was at the bookstore the second it opened whenever a new book came out. I wrote my own adventures for the brother and sister team, and I decided that when I grew up my home school curriculum would be based around every single one of those books. Years later, I still love their adventures and am still buying and reading them. The Magic Tree House series inspired me to expand my reading to all types of amazing stories and characters.

I will always remember those stories though, and how I wanted to be with Jack and Annie so bad. Mary Pope Osborne is my hero because she introduced me into a world of amazement and possibility through her books. I don't know of any author who has developed their stories as much as she and her husband have. They are creating research guides for all the books they've written and there are countless learning programs out there, even a broadway musical is going on tour now. Her dedication is my inspiration.

One of my goals in life is to interview her or even just meet her. I've started e-mailing some people to see if it's possible, but things haven't really worked out. I'm just going to keep trying though!

I love you Mary Pope Osborne!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Poem and Elections!

With the elections coming up I thought that I would post my opinion here and include a poem I wrote about abortion. First though, I just want to say that please read this bearing in mind I don't mean to offend anyone by this post and firmly believe everyone is entitled to their own opinion and reasons. Ultimately we are all fighting for the same thing...

I am a republican and so naturally go for John McCain, but this year neither of these presidential candidates have impressed me. The reason McCain is ahead in my books though, is because of his fights against abortion.

ABORTION. This subject is very personal to me. I was adopted the day after I was born. I recently asked my mom if she knew my biological mom's opinion on abortion. I learned that she wasn't too keen on it, but was being pressured a lot and if not for her pastor, who came and reeled her in, anything could have happened.

Tick Tock
by Traci

Hurry, the more time it takes
the more guilt I will feel.

Hurry, I don't want it any older!

Hurry, I can't bear to see it,
I would never be able to get through this.

Hurry, I feel like a murderer.

You are one and the same...

Slowdown, it doesn't matter if I'm one day old
or one week in the womb,
you will still be killing me.

Slowdown, I want to live.

Slowdown, if you could just see
how much we need each other.

Mother, you are killing me.
You and only you are my murderer.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Cybils Nominations

Go, go, go, HERE and see all the books that have been nominated for Cybils this year.
Below are some of the books I was thrilled to see on the lists:

Fantasy and Science Fiction (Middle Grade):
Fablehaven: Grip of the Shadow Plague by Brandon Mull
Out of the Wild by Sarah Beth Durst
Sisters of the Sword by Maya Snow ( see review here)
Skulduggery Pleasant: Playing with Fire by Derek Landy ( i love this book so much! see review here.)
Well Witched by Frances Hardinge ( I kind of thought this was nominated last year, but maybe I'm mistaken... see review here)

Fantasy and Science Fiction (Young Adult):
Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson
City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare

Graphic Novels (Elementary/Middle Grade):
Babymouse #9: Monster Mash ( I actually haven't read this yet, but Babymouse rules!)

Graphic Novels (Young Adult):
Rapunzel's Revenge by Shannon and Dean Hale, Illustrated by Nathan Hale
( This book is ALL THE WAY AMAZING)

Middle Grade Novels:
Bringing the Boy Home by N. A. Nelson ( see review here and author interview here)
Eve of the Emperor Penguin by Mary Pope Osborne ( watch for a post later on how this author is my hero..)
The Life and Crimes of Bernetta Wallflower by Lisa Graff

Young Adult Novels:
The Patron Saint of Butterflies by Cecilia Galante ( amazing book. see review here)
Redheaded Princess by Ann Rinaldi

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Tablework for Dragonsong

I recently auditioned for the play DRAGONSONG based off the book by Anne McCaffrey. I was given the role of a dragon puppeteer. Basically I am responsibility ( with 3 other kids) for making a massive (40 foot) dragon head come alive on stage. More on that in a later post.

Dragonsong is basically a story set in the land of Pern about a young girl who loves to sing and play music and a boy who wants to be a dragonrider. Unfortunately their town's customs forbid these things and they must find a way to fulfill their wishes and dreams even it involves taking drastic measures. Just a wonderful, cute, little coming of age story.
Anyways, last night we had rehearsal and for three hours we did tablework. When the director said we were doing this, my response was, "say what?". I had no clue what it was. He went on to explain that it is getting to know the setting/environment/heritage, etc of our play. So, we talked about the land of Pern and why it was created and for what reasons. We discussed the significance of each scene and what the characters were feeling and how what they did was important and the certain elements we needed to make sure the audience got when watching this performance. For example, here is the first line in the play. We read it and then came up with the following things.

CAPTAIN: Ladies and Gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. We are about to land on the planet of Pern. Please make sure your seat belts are securely fastened and your anti-gravity force field is turned to the positive position. You will notice the two escape hatches on either side of the cabin, marked with the old-fashioned word "exit". If there is an emergency landing of any kind, please proceed calmly to the exit hatch nearest you and descend to the ground outside the spaceship. We are now ready for maneuvers. Please stand by...

1. these people are leaving earth
2. why? because of a war (we found this out through some books the assistant director brought)
3. what is Pern? a planet of refuge, a dwelling place that eventually turns into a permanent home for harpers (singers), dragon riders, dragons, fire lizards, fisherman, people of all ages, etc.

So there you have it. Tablework. It was very interesting to go through this process because it was just a time to sit down and think about the play and imagine how it would be on stage and to really get into character. In all of the other plays I've been in the director(s) have just jumped right into blocking and rehearsals and leave the characters and research to the actors and actresses at home. So, it was great and I'm looking forward to what my director has in store for us next....

Here are some great links:
The Worlds of Anne McCaffrey
Book Review of Dragonsong by Emily

Monday, September 22, 2008

2008 Emmys

You have to see this performance by Josh Groban at the Emmys!

Friday, September 19, 2008

The lliad

I've always had a very optimistic view on classical books and have never really shrunken away from them. So, when I found out that two of the books in my literature class this year were the Iliad and the Odyssey, I was pretty pumped. I was first exposed to cyclops and Zeus and great battles on this TV show I watched a long time ago called Wishbone. In every episode the dog would go into a book and live out the story as one of the characters; I started a petition when they took the show off television. :)

Anyways, I'm almost done now with the Iliad and it was pretty good. It's definitely not in lack of action. Sometimes the characters get a little confusing, but it's those moments when Homer writes those small paragraphs in the middle of the book that make it all worth it. The ones where the characters realize who they really are or find out their comrade is dead or alive. Those passages are just really good lit and make me smile and shiver.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

In Remembrance..

7 years ago today, 4 planes were hijacked. 2 of them flew in to the World Trade Centers, 1 into the Pentagon, and 1 was crash landed into a field when the passenger fought back.

I believe my mom knew somebody who worked in one of the WTCs that was never found.

My prays go out to every person in this world who was affected by this act.

    Psalm 119:114
    You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in your word.
    Psalm 147:3
    He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Football, New House, Acting Update, Fav. Song

The crowd sits restless in their metal sits trying to hear above the roaring of the stadium. The announcer's voice soars above the excitement. And now please welcome, THE BOISE STATE BRONCOS!! The emotion I feel when I see those players running out through the smoke, is almost indescribable. Their passion is unbelievable, all their hard work about to get tested with on the spot decisions. I'm not a sport player at all, but watching this team play football is very special to me.

Tonight my team plays their season opener against Idaho State, GO BRONCOS!!
About three weeks ago, my family moved into our new house. After living for a year in our apartment it's nice to be able to move around a little bit more. We have so many boxes though, it's insane. I've lived without a lot of this stuff for two years (storage) so I've decided to get rid of tons, but definitely not any of my books. It's been a very exciting adventure! :)

Acting Update!! So, I auditioned for my school's play, The Secret Garden and got the part of Nurse Grey. I'm really happy that I got in because the audition and cut process was pretty scary at times. Nurse Grey will be fun to play because she has some attitude and a mind of her own!
Also, I just got informed that I get to perform a couple of songs from Schoolhouse Rock with some of my cast members for a program that our city is having. The part I'm pretty pumped about is that we get to do it at this amazing Amphitheater....

And, finally my favorite songs of the week.

I Believe by Fantasia.

Fly on the Wall by Miley Cyrus

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Fairy Tale Story with Proverb Moral

At the end of last year, my Bible teacher had us write a fairy tale with a proverb moral. We had already finished his exam and we needed something to do with the extra time. I was very excited since writing is one way for me to escape from everything for a bit. Anyways, I wrote it in class and turned it into him. To my sadness though, school ended and I still had not gotten it back. Thankfully though, because of his amazing organizational skills he had still saved it over summer. So, I have my story and I can share it with you now.

Side note: I have many different moods when I write, as I'm sure you all do. The mood I was in that day was (as you will soon be able to tell) dramatic and morbid. ;)


“A man burdened with bloodshed will flee into a pit, let no one help him.” Proverbs 28:17

The murderer plunged through the darkness of the castle cellar, not sure where he was going but knowing he needed to find the door soon. Blood dripped from his jacket and from his hand which held a small knife. This one small silvery object had taken the life of a young girl, a princess. Her smiling face never to be seen again. The owner of the knife came to a quick stop as he found the door handle and wrenched it open. There were two staircases ahead of them and not having enough time to ponder, randomly chose the left, leaping up the stairs two at a time. He heard some commotion below and hastened to find a way out into the open, the scene that just happened replaying through his mind.

“Stay away from me, GO AWAY!” she yelled
He came closer, “you know who I am”
She trembled, “I won’t tell anyone, I promise!!”
He raised his knife to strike her…

THUD. A sound on the nearby wall shook him back to the present time as whizzing arrows shot past him. Finally, he found a door that led outside; he grabbed the handle and twisted, exposing himself to the sunlight. Before him he saw people in great distress running around, cows mooing, and children screaming. He secretly tried to mingle with the crazy crowd, but his bloody clothes didn’t go unnoticed. A little girl inquired, “Sir, why do you have blood on your shirt? Mom! Come look at this man, he’s all bloody!” That did it. The crowd started shouting, knowing the man they were looking for was in their midst. He started running but that just made it even more obvious. Ahead, the killer saw a hole in the ground and taking a chance, threw himself into it.

His screams could be heard a mile away. This strange man had jumped into a deep pit of poisonous snakes, the pit used only for witches and sorcerers. The crowd became silent as they stood watching the happenings in the hole. After a while though, they started becoming restless and nervous.
“Should someone help him?” A lady cried. Another woman chimed in, “he should go before the king!” The crowds silenced again as a deep old voice that dripped with wisdom slowly said, “anyone who rescues that man in the pit will get a punishment that will shock even the king’s torturers. “ The people pondered his words thoughtfully, but suddenly a high voice rang throughout the people.

“I will rescue him!”

A young boy, trying to prove his manhood strode up and produced a long rope. He swung it down into the pit and called to the now horribly swollen, bitten man, “Grab hold of the rope, sir.”

The murderer got the rest of his energy together and grabbed onto the rope, but the second the foolish boy summoned his strength to pull the killer up, the rope became both of their deaths. It started changing its shape becoming boiling lava, blazing fire, sharp nettles, and lastly electricity shocks that burned the skin to a crisp. It took less than a minute for both human beings to be unrecognizable in their piles of ashes. One in the pit, one outside of it.

The old man shook his head as the crowd subsided to go mourn their princesses’ death. If only the boy had listened to the man’s words. He had been so caught up in getting some glory and fame that he had forgotten all of the wise advice he had received growing up and had wasted it all in one stupid decision.


Sunday, August 10, 2008

School House Rock! Live! Jr.

Three weeks ago, I participated in a Youth Theater Summer Program. It lasted for two weeks and was held every day for eight hours. Very intense. ;) Anyways, during those days the cast of 11 worked with a professional vocal teacher, tech dude, actor, and dance choreographer. I was able to learn a lot about musical theater and work on certain techniques for my own acting and singing. At the end of the program we put on School House Rock! Live! Jr. It's based of the PBS show that helps kids learn their numbers and other important school related stuff. At first I was a little skeptical, because singing school songs didn't sound really that much fun. But, actually the songs and the script were just so cute and fun and the songs are very very addictive. ;) Also, we got a lot of kids come to our performances and they just loved it and for me that's what makes performing amazing for me. The thrill of telling the audience a story and having them react in certain ways to your different actions and words.

I would post one of the songs here, but so far I can only find the really old versions of them. There are newer more improved songs that we used, so when I find some I will post them here.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Contest Results

Hey everyone,

Thanks so much for participating in my drawing! I'm totally thrilled to be able to give these books out. And, here are the winners!!!




So, if you three could e-mail your addresses to me at:, I will have your books sent out to you! ;)

1. Starting School
2. Schoolhouse Rock LIVE jr.
3. Moving!!!

Love to you all!!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Author Interview: Brandon Mull

Brandon Mull is the author of Fablehaven, a series of books about the fascinating world of two siblings and their adventures on a magical reserve. His newest addition is Fablehaven: Grip of the Shadow Plague that was released on the 21st of April. Brandon has also written The Candy Shop War. To learn more about him visit his website here.

How did you come up with the name, Fablehaven?
After a huge brainstorm session, Fablehaven sat atop the list. I liked that it was composed of real words. "Fable" feels a little like a fairytale and obviously a "haven" is a refuge, so "Fablehaven" sounded like a refuge for fairytale creatures. I also liked that "Fablehaven" was not a word out there on the Internet. Nobody owned

How do you feel having your series in the spotlight right alongside Harry Potter, The Twilight Saga, etc.?
It is exciting that the Fablehaven series is finding a large and devoted audience. You write a book hoping an audience will find it and enjoy it, so the growing success of the series is a vast relief. It means I can make writing my full-time job, which has been my dream since childhood.

Do you think success has changed you?
The success I've found means I can spend a bigger chunk of my time typing in my basement office. It also means I now have a basement. And an office.
It also means I spend a big chunk of my year visiting schools, bookstores, and libraries. In college, teaching was on my short list of prospective careers, and visiting schools helps me scratch that itch. I love motivating kids to read and create.

Did you put any aspects of yourself into Kendra and/or Seth? Who do you relate to the most?
There are some aspects of myself in Kendra and Seth. The way they banter and bicker is similar to the way I bantered with my siblings. As a kid I had more of Seth's sense of adventure. Now I have Kendra's sense of caution. And, of course, I'm fairykind.

What is your definition of a powerful book?
I love it when a story takes me on a fun ride. I want to see characters I care about face involving problems. I want to laugh. I love stories with larger-than-life elements done in a way that feels real and human. I love it when I forget I'm reading, when I'm just experiencing the story.

I believe I read somewhere that you have kids. If so, what was (or is) one of the books they begged you to read when they were little?
My oldest is four. We've been reading Mo Willems books like Knuffle Bunny. Recently we tried the Invention of Hugo Cabret. She really likes reading time.

Do you want to be writing books all your life, if not, what else do you want to do?
I've always said, rich or poor, successful or anonymous, writing books is what my brain was built to do. Ever since I can remember, I've naturally made up stories. It is my default mode. I have many, many ideas for after the Fablehaven series. I expect to write a book or two a year for the next thirty years, if not longer. Keep an eye out. The best is yet to come.

If you could have the whole world's attention for 5 minutes, what would you say?
It would be sweet to tell an awesome joke.

It would be tempting to plug my books.

I would want to tell everybody the truth. I mean, with the world's attention, shouldn't I be enlightening? I feel I understand some nuggets of wisdom that might be worth hearing. But it is really hard to give people undiluted truth. Not to mention dangerous. I prefer trying to write truthful fiction and deliver little insights that way. Hopefully I'll keep getting better at my craft.

If you could meet any person in the world, who would it be?
Hmmm. It would be somebody inaccessible. Somebody I could talk with about things that interest me. Maybe J.K. Rowling? Or Steven Spielberg?

Thank you so much Brandon it was an honor to interview you!

BONUS: Thanks to the Shadow Mountain Publishing Company I get to feature a book give away for this interview. So, please leave a comment here and I will enter you into a drawing. The first three I draw will receive a copy of Fablehaven Volume 1.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Patron Saint of Butterflies by Cecilia Galante

The Patron Saint of Butterflies by Cecilia Galante

For Agnes, the religious commune is her life. It’s all she has known and she loves it. Dedicating her life to God is the best possible thing to do and she will stop at nothing to make her body pure and sinless for sainthood by any measures necessary. That includes starving herself, sleeping on sharp rocks, and respecting Emmanuel for beating her almost to death when she sins. He is the most amazing man in the world and Agnes’ idol. Her best friend Honey also resides there, but she is very sinful and Agnes is encouraged to stay away from her.

Honey is very bitter. Who could blame her? Her mother abandoned her and left her at Mount Blessings, a stupid commune. She is forced to dedicate her life to God or more like Emmanuel and his stupid wife. She recognizes that this place isn't right and when Agnes' Grandmother comes for a visit Honey realizes this is the help she has been looking for to get out.

Through these two girls’ journeys, emotions are tampered with and faith is challenged. New identities are revealed and old ones reappear after many years.

Some of the books I read I can describe as fun/light reads. Cecilia's book was definitely not one of those reads. It was a powerful, intense exploration of two amazingly real characters' lives. I really cared about Agnes and Honey and hated their enemies with a loathing that shocked me.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Miss Spitfire: Reaching Helen Keller by Sarah Miller

Miss Spitfire: Reaching Helen Keller by Sarah Miller

Once a healthy, energetic child, Helen Keller is now deaf, blind, dumb, and with no hope for a future. Annie Sullivan, a young lady with an extremely troubled life comes into Helen’s world to try and get her to see, hear, and talk through her hands. But how do you introduce someone to language when communication and comprehension are non-existant for the present.

Miss Spitfire has been on my book list ever since it came out, but I wasn’t able to read it until just a bit ago. Usually books that I’m really pumped up for and that I anticipate way to much turn out being not as good as I thought. Thankfully Sarah Miller’s book did not disappoint. Even though I was already really familiar with Helen and Annie’s story, Miss Spitfire was unique and still kept me on my toes.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Top 100

(From Sarah Miller's blog.)According to The Big Read, the average adult has only read 6 of the top 100 books on this list.

The instructions:
Look at the list and:
Bold those you have read.
Italicize those you intend to read.
Underline the books you LOVE.

Even though I'm not an adult, I'm still doing it! ;)

1. Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2. The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien (read first two books)
3. Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4. Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
5. To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6. The Bible (almost there)
7. Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8. 1984 - George Orwell
9. His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10. Great Expectations - Charles Dickens

11. Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12. Tess of the D'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13. Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14. Complete Works of Shakespeare
15. Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16. The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17. Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18. Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger (I don't get it)
19. The Time Traveller's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20. Middlemarch - George Eliot

21. Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22. The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23. Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24. War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25. The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26. Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27. Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28. Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29. Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll 30. The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame

31. Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32. David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33. Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34. Emma - Jane Austen
35. Persuasion - Jane Austen
36. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis
37. The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38. Captain Corelli's Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39. Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40. Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne

41. Animal Farm - George Orwell
42. The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown (abridged audio, but I'm counting it anyway)
43. One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44. A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45. The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46. Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47. Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48. The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
49. Lord of the Flies - William Golding (HATE)
50. Atonement - Ian McEwan

51. Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52. Dune - Frank Herbert
53. Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54. Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55. A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56. The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57. A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58. Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60. Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

61. Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62. Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63. The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64. The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65. Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66. On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67. Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68. Bridget Jones' Diary - Helen Fielding
69. Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie
70. Moby Dick - Herman Melville

71. Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72. Dracula - Bram Stoker
73. The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74. Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75. Ulysses - James Joyce
76. The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77. Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78. Germinal - Emile Zola
79. Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80. Possession - AS Byatt

81. A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82. Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83. The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84. The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85. Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86. A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87. Charlotte's Web - EB White
88. The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89. Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90. The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton

91. Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92.The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93. The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94. Watership Down - Richard Adams
95. A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96. A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97. The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98. Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl

100. Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

Hm... 11 is not very good, but I still have a while until I become an adult. ;) This list has a lot of really good books that I AM going to read before I die, though..