Monday, April 30, 2012

Z is for Zelda

A to Z Blogging Challenge

Z is for Zelda

The Legend of Zelda - A Link to the Past
How many of you played this game growing up?? This was one of THE games to own on Super Nintendo. My brothers spent many hours playing. Which meant I spent many hours WATCHING them play. ;) I found that you could buy Zelda on the Wii! We bought it and I've had fun showing my boys how to play this old game. I love RPGs like Zelda. The adventure, the storyline, everything is so much fun. When we went to the Renaissance Faire this week, I made the boys jerkins/vests that look like Link's. :) They were super excited to wear them. Especially after we bought a sword on our way out. Boys and swords. Not much changes, does it?

What "old school" games do you still enjoy? What games did you spend your time playing when you were younger? (I know my husband spent many quarters in the arcade on Gallaga!)

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Renaissance Faire 2012

Once again, my friends and I trekked out to the Renaissance Faire. Once again, it was amazing. We had some new friends this time (including my kids) come with us. Great fun!! And the we go! (When I have more time, I'll go back and caption the photos.)

Boys in the woods

Shooting bolts from crossbows with my kids. They both thought they look like Link from Legend of Zelda. :)

With "our" knight after the joust

Hefting the sword with the wavy blade

I think I need one of these!

I saw this in the trash and had to take a picture of it! We went on "school day" and apparently one of the kids didn't really enjoy the Faire! ;)

Our whole group. We like to dress up.


Oh, the epicness!

Again with the epic photos

Perplexed! Wild berries? Do I eat them?!

Awesome tree. 

Would you care for an apple, little girl?

Me, Abby, Amanda doing what we do best - read.! :)

If you get a chance to go to a Renaissance Faire near you, I'd highly encourage it! :)

Y is for Young Indiana Jones Chronicles

A to Z Blogging Challenge

Y is for Young Indiana Jones Chronicles

One of my first celebrity "crushes" was from the Young Indiana Jones TV series that aired when I was little. A friend of the family used to tape them and we'd watch them all together. I loved those shows! I loved the way they inserted Indiana into historical events that seemed to actually make sense for him to be involved. Well, make sense for a TV show, at least. I was SO happy to see that the Young Indiana Jones Chronicles is on Netflix! We've watched most of the episodes with our sons. It's fun to see them like a show that I watched when I was little. :) (And there might have been a bit of residual swooning of my part.) ;)

**I do love the older Indiana Jones movies, too! I had to pick something for "Y" and this came to mind. :)

X is for Xylophone

A to Z Blogging Challenge

X is for Xylophone, yeah. Xylophone. One of those weird "x" words that sound like a "z." If you can play the piano, you can play the xylophone.

And...that's all I have for "X."

Thursday, April 26, 2012

W is for Work

A to Z Blogging Challenge

W is for Work

Sometimes writing is work. Deadlines, dead ends in plot lines, etc. You have to work past these roadblocks and continue doing what you love. I'm really working at the end of Book 3 in my YA fantasy series right now. None of the endings I've imagined are fitting quite right. It's like a puzzle where you have all of those little blue sky pieces that look exactly the same but you know that they all have a place! That's what I'm doing right now. Finding places for all of those little puzzle pieces. It'll be great. But right now, it's work. :)

V is for Vernal Vortex

A to Z Blogging Challenge

V is for Vernal Vortex

When I had NO idea what to write, I gave a holler out to my Twitter peeps about "V." I got two answers: "vernal" and "vortex." (Thank you, Elizabeth and Rebecca, respectively!)

So, here's a sci-fi idea: The Vernal Vortex is only open on the first day of spring. If you want to jump into another world, you must do it on this day. If you miss that window, you must wait until the next year. Same thing for the return home. How much could happen in a year? Where would you go?

And...that's what I have for V! :)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

U is for Umbrella

A to Z Blogging Challenge

U is for Umbrella

Taking my kids to the Arboretum, even in the rain, is always fun. One of my favorite pictures of the two of them is from a rainy day at the Arboretum. Hence, "Umbrella" as my blog word for the day.

Do you have any favorite photos that stand out in your mind that captured a great memory?

Monday, April 23, 2012

T is for Tea

A to Z Reading Challenge

T is for Tea

I love to write with a cup of hot tea next to me. My hands are often cold and wrapping my hands around the mug warms them up instantly! I have several ginormous tea cups that I use for this purpose (to avoid getting up and down often). What kinds of tea do I like? Earl Grey is a favorite as well as English Breakfast for caffeinated teas. Chamomile and "Tension Tamer" are great non-caffeinated teas for times of stress. Or when I've already had more-than-enough caffeine! ;)

There is a little tea shop/restaurant near my house that I've been to with my mom and sisters and my M-I-L and S-I-L. Cute little sandwiches, yummy scones, and, of course, individual pots of tea. Yay for tea parties! :)

When my husband and I went to Canada (Vancouver Island), we had tea at the Empress Hotel. Very posh! Everything that I thought it would be, it was! I totally loved being there. (See above pic)

Saturday, April 21, 2012

S is for Sisters

A to Z Blogging Challenge

S is for Sisters

I have two sisters and I love them SO much! Sisters was the first thing I thought of when it came to "S." Your siblings are your first friends (and at times, enemies) who know so many things about you but are still part of your life. :)  Both of my sisters came to my first book signing (thank you!!) and have been around for all sorts of craziness.

I love you both! <3

Friday, April 20, 2012

R is for Responsibility

A to Z Blogging Challenge

R is for Responsibility

"With great power comes great responsibility." - Spider-Man

Yes, I did just quote Spider-Man. He's my favorite super hero. (I do have other almost-favorites but that's another post for another time.) I like Peter Parker because he is an average guy who has greatness thrust upon him. And he handles it rather well! Most of the time. :) Character flaws are fun and all but for an all around good guy, Peter Parker is my man.

Who are your favorite super heroes? Favorite quotes?

Where I'll Be - Bookish Events!

I have some of my schedule for the next few months for bookish events!


Saturday, May 19 at 10:00 a.m.
Blue Chair Children's Bookstore in Glendora, CA.

I'll be signing my YA fantasy novel THE SEVENTH BLESSING and talking about writing books!


Monday, June 4 - Thursday, June 7
Book Expo America (BEA) in New York City!!!

Yes, I'll be in NYC! I'm so excited for this event! Please let me know if you'll be there. I'd love to meet you and chat about books. And life. And music. And every other thing that we have in common. :)

June 21-26
ALA in Anaheim, CA

Yay for being in Anaheim! Only 10 minutes from my house! I won't be here for the whole week but I hope to be there for several days. :) Again, I'd love to meet you. Tweet me if you're there. @Melissa_Buell

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Q is for Queen Elizabeth II

A to Z Blogging Challenge

Q is for Queen Elizabeth II

Queen E2 is pretty awesome. She's been ruling as Great Britain's monarch for 60 years this year! She's been married to the same man for 65 years. She served during WWII in the Women's Auxiliary Territorial Services as a driver and mechanic. For all of the bad things that have happened in her life, she's rebounded quite remarkably. If I had to live under a monarch, I'd choose her. :)

P is for Perseverance

A to Z Blogging Challenge

P is for Perseverance

"Never, never, never give up." - Winston Churchill

What does this mean to you? Does it mean that you keep going until you can't go any further? If something is important to you, yes! Do exactly that! :)

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

O is for Obsession

A to Z Blogging Challenge

O is for Obsession

Everyone has an obsession about something: gardening, driving, shopping, gaming. You name it, it's out there. My obsession is...reading. Yep. I'm a reader! I read WAY more often than I watch TV or movies. I usually take a book with me when I'm out because you never know when you might have to wait for something or someone. Or because you're obsessed with a book and NEED to know What Happens Next. My reading obsession has not made me poor because we have an amazingly well stocked public library in our fine city. Yay! Be thankful for libraries and free (to us) books! :)

What are your (lawful) obsessions? (And if you don't want people to know, um, don't share.) ;)

Monday, April 16, 2012

N is for Normal

A to Z Blogging Challenge

N is for Normal

My mind kept coming back to this word.


Defined as: conforming to the standard or the common type; usual; not abnormal; regular; natural.

Well, I know that I don't always conform to the above items. I can be quite "not abnormal." ;) I enjoy reading, writing, talking about books for hours. Do you know how "abnormal" that is??

And I'm very much okay with that. :) :)

M is for Music

A to Z Blogging Challenge

M is for Music

I love so many types of music. My iTunes library is rather random. Let me demonstrate using this music "quiz."

1.Put your iTunes, Windows Media Player, iPod, etc
on shuffle
2. For each question, press the next button to get your answer.
3. You must write that song name down no matter how silly it sounds.


"Get'cha Head in the Game" from High School Musical

"Bridge Over Troubled Water" by Simon and Garfunkel

"Sing" by The Carpenters

"I Remember" by Kenny Chesney

"Someone Else's Dream" by Faith Hill

"You're Not Alone Tonight" by Keith Urban

"Go the Distance" from Hercules

"Today Was A Fairy Tale" by Taylor Swift

"Where You Are" by Rascal Flatts

"Alone" by Lisa Loeb

"Put Me Back Together" by Weezer

"Should've Been A Cowboy" by Toby Keith

"Colors of the Wind" from Pocahontas

"I Just Wanna Be Mad" by Terri Clark

"Everything" by Michael Buble

"Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting" by Elton John
"Enchanted" by Taylor Swift

That was fun! Some of them don't make sense but some are perfect! :)

I have different types of music for different types of writing. Each book that I've written has its own "soundtrack" that I listen to as I write. Yay for music!! :)

L is for Lists

A to Z Blogging Challenge

L is for Lists

I am a list maker. Groceries, to-do lists, party/get together lists, presents lists...Anything that could be listed, I'll do it! It keeps me focused and organized. In my crazybusy life, it's a necessity. I have lots of notepads to make my lists. That makes it more fun. This list making carries on to my writing. I always make an outline when I write a story. **The one time I didn't, the story petered out rather quickly. I was rambling and didn't really like that! Lists are your friend!

K is for Kids

A to Z Blogging Challenge

K is for Kids

I have two kids. They make it difficult to get writing on a schedule done at times but I'm okay with that. :) Because they're not going to stay little forever but I have the next ___ years to write! They are excellent sounding boards for funny kids books or to give me names for characters. They always listen to my stories. They are my first "fan club." I love them a WHOLE bunch of a lot! :) :)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

J is for Jane Austen

A to Z Blogging Challenge

J is for Jane Austen!!

Jane Austen is one of my all-time favorite authors. Pride and Prejudice, published in 1813, is my favorite book. Jane Austen's words were written 200 years ago but they still resonate with readers. Her six complete works of romantic fiction have seen massive republication. I've read all of these works but P&P remains my favorite. Austen never married and died at the tragically young age of 41. (Imagine how much more she could have written!)

Many fan fiction works have been created in the last 100 years, spinning off from the lovable (or sometimes maddening!) characters Austen created. Most of her work has been made into movies and mini series. (Yay for BBC awesomeness!)

What's your favorite Austen novel?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

I is for Imagination

A to Z Blogging Challenge

I is for Imagination

One of the essential parts of being a writer is having an active imagination. I used to fall asleep (well, I still do this!) thinking up different stories. This was way better than counting sheep to try to fall asleep. I kept thinking about the same story as I would fall asleep and I finally wrote bits of it down in a little notebook that my husband gave me. That eventually grew into...a story! My first book, actually. A little imagination goes a long way! ;)

In your imagination, do you think in words or in mental images? My imagination is like a movie rolling in my head. I "write" a scene and it keeps going until I don't like something about it. "Cut! Let's try that again!" :)

Think of how little kids play. "Let's pretend that Barbie is going to go on a date with Ken." "Ok! And then he asks her to go to prom!" "And then she'll pick the pink dress to wear." "And then they'll drive in her convertible..."
"Kids, it's time to clean up!"
"But we haven't even played yet!!"
**I think it's funny that kids play in future tense with dolls or cars or whatever it is they play with.**

Have you stretched your imagination lately? Throw in some weird ideas in your stories and see if you like them. Give your characters a couple of different scenarios to work through. "If Main Character goes here, this happens. OR this happens. OR this happens!" Sort of like "Choose Your Own Adventure" (except that I hated those books because I never got to the right answer!!). This will help make your characters more real if they have real choices, just like "real life" people.

Monday, April 9, 2012

H is for Happy!

A to Z  Blogging Challenge

H is for Happy!

I'm SUPER happy because my first book THE SEVENTH BLESSING  is now available as an eBook for your Kindle! Don't have a Kindle? You can download the "Kindle for PC" app for free from And then you can buy my book!! :) :) Isn't that happymaking? Yeah, I thought so. ;)


Free Kindle reading apps from

Saturday, April 7, 2012

G is for Goals

A to Z Blogging Challenge

G is for Goals

Everyone has to have a goal in life. Even if you say, "I don't have any goals in my life! I go wherever the road takes me!" Um...that's a goal. Living in your parents basement playing RPGs all day is a goal. Not a very good goal. *coughslackercough*

SO! Writing goals! If you're a writer, how often do you write? I know some people have a standard of writing "20 minutes a day/ 1 hour a day/ 5 hours a day..." They judge people who don't have the same writing goals that they do. *scratches head* I don't get that at all. No one is the same in anything they do! One person can take a 5 minute shower while another person takes a 30 minute shower. Did they both shower? Yes. Are they clean? Yes. (Though one person wasted quite a bit of water...)

In every facet of life, you'll find people with different goals than you. It's your choice about how to face these people. Don't let that "I write 5 hours a day!" person get you down. Maybe you (like me) have small kids, a job, volunteer opportunities, a life other than writing. *gasp!* Did I just say that?! Yes. I did. Writing is not the ultimate goal in life.

It really isn't. People can write and write and write and never sell their work. Some people never show their work to anyone. Some writers can write one book, sell it instantly, and never write again. You need to know that writing will not support your lifestyle. Well, unless you're J.K. Rowling. But even she had to wait for years to truly see a return for all of her work.

What's my point? *thinks* Have a goal for yourself. Writing should make you happy. If you're not happy with it, it's probably not for you. Find another hobby. Another way to express yourself. Don't be a tortured writer. You won't get any awards for it.

You'll probably just end up friendless. So don't do that.

That is all.

F is for Failure

A to Z Blogging Challenge

F is for Failure

Failure to write a blog post and schedule it to post yesterday when I should have!! *sigh* I have this pattern with blog posts. I usually write about what I'm thinking about currently. I need to store up some extra blog posts and then schedule them to post regularly. This blogging challenge is a good reminder of that.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

E is for Extra Fun Reading Challenges!

A to Z Blogging Challenge

E is for Extra Fun Reading Challenge!
(Okay, so this might be cheating but I couldn't think of anything for "E" and I wanted to do this post...)

I haven't posted any of my "Reading Challenges" updates to my blog. I've been reading LOTS of books but have been busy doing other things. I'm correcting this error right now!

So, for this first quarter of 2012, I've read:

"Tif Talks Books" Fairy Tale Challenge

1. "Just Ella" by Margaret Peterson Haddix
2. "Awake: A Fairytale" by Jessica Grey
3. "Dragon Slippers" by Jessica Day George

"Historical Tapestry" Historical Fiction Challenge

1. "I Was Jane Austen's Best Friend" by Cora Harrison
2. "Love Finds You In Last Chance, California" by Miralee Ferrell

Classics Reading Challenge


"Basically Amazing Books" YA Contemporary Challenge

1. "Thirteen Reasons Why" by Jay Asher
2. "An Abundance of Katherines" by John Green
3. "The Future of Us" by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler
4. "The Mother Daughter Book Club" by Heather Vogel Frederick
5. "Much Ado About Anne" by Heather Vogel Frederick
6. "Love Finds You In Sunset Beach, Hawaii" by Robin Jones Gunn
7. "Thwonk" by Joan Bauer
8. "Sass and Serendipity" by Jennifer Ziegler
9. "The Teashop Girls" by Laura Schaefer
10. "What Happened to Goodbye" by Sarah Dessen
11. "Along For the Ride" by Sarah Dessen

"Bookdout" Eclectic Reader Challenge

  1. Literary Fiction
  2. Crime/Mystery Fiction -- "Stork Raving Mad" by Donna Andrews
  3. Romantic Fiction -- 
  4. Historical Fiction
  5. Young Adult -- "I Was Jane Austen's Best Friend" by Cora Harrison
  6. Fantasy - "Disney in Shadow" by Ridley Pearson
  7. Science Fiction (I'm picking dystopian) - "Pandemonium" by Lauren Oliver
  8. Non Fiction
  9. Horror
  10. Thriller /Suspense
  11. Classic
  12. Your favourite genre

Lucky 7 Meme!

I received this "Lucky Seven Writing Meme" from the lovely Farrah Penn.

Here are the rules for the Lucky Seven Meme:

*Go to page 77 of your current MS/WIP 

*Go to line 7 

*Copy down the next 7 lines (sentences or paragraphs) and post them exactly as they're written. No cheating. 

*Tag 7 authors 

*Let them know

This is from Book 3 in my YA fantasy series, currently titled THE CURSED BLESSING. (Conversation between Holly, my MC, and her father.)

  “Fair? You dare to say ‘fair’ to me? Only a few days ago I sat at what I feared was your deathbed. And now I find out you and your brother snuck out and entered a tournament.” He paused, pressing his fingers to his temples as he rose once more to pace the room. “Fair would be for your two to behave yourselves and stop giving me and your mother grey hair! Holly, entering as a man in the tournament—”

            “I never actually said I was a man—”

            Her father continued as if she had not spoken. “Your mother would be ashamed if she were here. I can’t imagine what she will say when you return home.”

I'm tagging...

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

D is for Dessert

A to Z Blogging Challenge

D is for Dessert

I love to bake and my favorite thing to bake is dessert! Cupcakes, cakes, pies, cobblers, everything sweet is fine by me. ;)  Decorating cakes is also one of my hobbies. Every birthday for my boys, I've made their cakes. I've also made them for my sister, my niece, and other family and friends. I love cake!

Some of my favorite things are the easiest: cake mix cookies.
Directions: Take 1 box of any flavor cake mix, mix with 2 eggs and 1 stick of melted butter. Form dough into small balls and bake for 6-8 minutes at 350 degrees. Easy peasy! And they taste SO good. I especially love the Funfetti kind. You can easily customize these to make them even more flavorful. My sister-in-law mixes bits of candy bars into hers.

Do you have recipes for favorite easy desserts?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

C is for Coffee

A to Z Blogging Challenge

C is for Coffee

Coffee is a necessity for me to function as a normal (give or take a few points on the normalcy scale) human being. If I'm writing, I definitely need to have mass quantities of coffee. I'm not super picky about the coffee. As long as I have flavored creamer or cream and sugar, I'm good. I'm had quite a bit of coffee lately with having a deadline for my book. Let's hope it makes my writing better, not worse. ;)

What do you need to write? Do you have a standard drink while you're writing?

Monday, April 2, 2012

B is for Books

A to Z Blogging Challenge

B is for Books

Oh, books. How do I love thee? Let me count the pages...

I've loved books since I was little. I remember going to the library as a very small child and picking out books to take home. I absolutely loved to read. I read all of the time. That hasn't stopped as I've gotten older. Many of the books I read when I was little are still favorites that are on my bookshelf.

I read all sorts of books. Throw a genre at me and I'll rattle off a list of books I've read. My dad would listen to Tom Clancy books on tape when I was little. Consequently, I love Tom Clancy. We own most of his novels. I love the suspense, the intrigue, the elaborate plot building, the adventure. That (I think) shows up in my writing. Another "non-girly" book series I read is the Dirk Pitt series by Clive Cussler. I know, I'm not like most girls!! :)  And that's okay. I like to read books that my husband enjoys as well. We read many of the same books and talk about them ad nauseum.

I read lots of contemporary YA books as well. Most are from recommendations from friends and book bloggers. If there was a fire in my house, I'd be SO SO sad because I'd lose hundreds of books.

I love books! :)

Next up: "C is for..."

A is for Awesome

I'm going to do the "A to Z" blogging challenge this month! Let's hope I can keep it up. ;)

A is for Awesome

Awesome is one of my favorite words. I don't really know why. And no, I'm not a surfer. Nor am I 13. ;) It just encompasses SO many good feelings and excitement! Similarly, "awesomeness" is also a favorite word. I can confidently say that my life is awesome. I am in awe of it. I have a fabulous husband who loves me and treats me well (and is an awesome dad!), 2 great boys who are fun and smart and silly and adventurous, a wonderful job as a substitute teacher, a ridiculously amazing life as a writer/author, a supportive family, sweet friends, the promise of eternal life...

It truly is Awesome.

Next up: "B is for..."