Monday, November 3, 2014

The New Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Orlando, Florida



The new Wizarding World of Harry Potter is incredible. I'm sure you could have guessed that with how Hogsmeade turned out in Islands of Adventure. Universal has researched every detail perfectly to not only get the fans approval, but also J.K. herself. Yeah, they've done their work, and it's paid off. The rides, the shops, the interactive wand experiencesit's all as it should be, making you feel like you've been transported into Diagon Alley. (That might sound cliche, but that's just how it is). 

You'll probably just scroll through this to the pictures, but I thought make a list of what you'll encounter below:  

Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes.
Potions everywhere.
The Knight bus complete with Stan Shunpike.
Hedwig and Harry's trunks at King's Cross station.
Platform 9 3/4 (you actually disappear into the wall as you enter).
My baby trying to eat Butterbeer ice cream, which was way too good to share with her.
The queue line for the Escape from Gringotts ride with plenty of glaring goblins.

My favorite parts that I wish I could show you: 

Knockturn Alley. My Nikon died right then. But guys, it was freaky and amazing.
The whole ride Escape from Gringotts. It's everything you want it to be, and pardon the cliche again, makes you feel like you are really there.
The train. It was different going each way from Hogsmeade to Diagon Alley with magic happening on the windows outside as well as the compartment inside the train.

Enjoy the pictures and the surprise videos at the end!

























video


video

Friday, October 24, 2014

St. Augustine, Florida


My family and I just got back from Florida. It was such a good break and I was thrilled we got to visit the seaside village of St. Augustine. Deemed the oldest city in America, you can feel a rich sense of history the moment you arrive. St. Augustine is said to be haunted and offers regular ghost tours daily throughout the city and museums.


 One of the most infamous haunted historic sights is the Fort Castillo De San Marcos. We got to roam around the fort (as best as we could with a stroller) and learn about the endless pirate attacks on St. Augustine.


Can you believe this city was established in 1565? 


Pirates lurking everywhere...


Why does Spanish Moss make me so happy? It's the perfect backdrop for such a historic and eerie city.


Ghost tours anyone? 


In the heart of the city are these charming shops featuring old fashioned ice cream, candy, and restaurants. Can you see why I love it here? 


St. Augustine also has the Fountain of Youth! But unfortunately, this isn't it. The fountain is located next to the Fort Castillo De San Marcos. In 1513, when the Spanish explorer Ponce De Lion came to Florida, he thought it was the actual site of the Fountain of youth. It was believed that the healing waters could reverse the signs of aging. 


Mill Top Tavern. Doesn't it remind you of Hocus Pocus? 
This city is incredible. If you ever get the chance, make the visit to St. Augustine, it's worth the trip! 

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Once Upon A Time meets Frozen


Here's my review of Once Upon A Time so far. What did you think? 

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Body Language



I think body language is fascinating. Honestly, you can learn a lot more about how someone feels from their body language than anything that actually comes out of their mouth.

I love applying this to writing because it helps create believable characters. You can tell your reader everything they need to know about a character purely off their body language. Adversely, if your character's body language is wrong, it will hurt your writing.

One thing I try to keep in mind is that often people say one thing, but their body language contradicts them. If you ask a favor of someone, they might respond and say they're happy to help, however you can sense that they feel uncomfortable or unhappy about itit's because their body language is portraying how they truly feel.

Likewise, you might have moments in your writing where a character feels uncomfortable, scared, or unhappy, but they try to mask their inner feelings and appear calm and confident. It's important to show small traits of how they're truly feeling during each scene.

If you have a character that's feeling angry, they might stiffen up or change their tone. If someone touches their nose, they don't believe what's being said. If they're nervous, they'll be fidgety, give short answers, and have terrible eye contact. When someone's feeling relaxed and confident, they'll make themselves appear bigger, taller, and raise their hand higher in class. When someone feels vulnerable or scared, they'll shrink by crossing their legs, folding their arms, or sometimes touching their neck.

I've been watching other's body language a lot more closely, trying to take notice of how they react in different situations. My goal is to make each of my characters react believably, thus creating stronger writing.

How do you use body language in your own writing? What popular characters in literature use strong body language?

Friday, September 12, 2014

Comic Con Week. That's a Wrap!


Last week was absolutely crazy! It started out with my cat eating rat poison, getting pulled over while running errands, planning and preparing for a baby blessing event, and signing and speaking at Comic Con. It's safe to say that by the end of the week I was exhausted. But even with the madness of it all, I got to meet incredible writers, artists, and fans at Comic Con and speak about subjects that I love. 

I'm sorry if I missed you! Everything right now is a balancing act, but I had a great time on panels talking about writing, Disney sidekicks, Disney villains, Harry Potter, and The Muppets. Yes, The Muppets--that was such a zany, fun, and energetic panel. I could not stop smiling. I think my favorite part was when these colorful aliens above came shuffling down the aisle mid-panel. Afterwards we took a picture together and I'm guessing my arm was pretty tasty!

I have loved being a part of Salt Lake Comic Con, and I'm so appreciative of all the hard work that goes into planning. It's  incredible to be able to experience such talent and join together to celebrate some of our favorite things.

Here's till next year!  

What were some of your favorite parts of Salt Lake Comic Con? 

(P.S. My Cat is okay! He's a happy kitty and is completely better now).

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Salt Lake Comic Con 2014






Salt Lake Comic Con is this week! I am so excited to be a panelist and discuss writing, Disney villains and sidekicks, and Harry Potter. If you're there, come check out these fun panels!

Thursday September 4, 7:00 pm
Disney Silent Sidekicks
Room 251A

Friday September 5, 5:00 pm
Muppets
Room 255B

Saturday September 6, 2:00 pm
Your Own Visit to Hogwarts: Real- World Potter Magic in Florida and England
Room 255F

Saturday September 6, 6:00 pm
My Favorite Disney Princess Villain
Room 251A

SaltlakeComicCon.com

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

I Put a Spell on You...



I'm working on my newest novel. It's a spooky middle grade story about a girl who's obsessed with Halloween. It's so strange to be finished with my shapeshifting series, but it's a lot of fun starting new projects. As I look for fresh inspiration, I keep thinking of some of my favorite kid-friendly scary movies and books.

All of these stories left a lasting impressing on me when I was younger. I love a good spooky tale!



Ah, yes, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. One of Disney's creepiest cartoons and definitely a classic. Bing Crosby narrates the tale of superstitious Ichabod Crane and the headless horseman in Sleepy Hollow. I love how Disney stayed true to Washington Irving's story, but still added enough humor to make sure it wasn't too scary for kiddos.



You've got to love Hocus Pocus. The Sanderson sisters come back to Salem for one night only and create havoc for high school student Max Dennison. This movie is full of Halloween music and fun (see the end of this post for reference *grins*). I still watch it every fall.



I'm not sure how well known this series is, but I loved them in elementary. The Bailey School kids books are packed with stories about every kind of mythical character and creature a kid could think of. They're really lighthearted and perfect for getting kids reading. My favorite was Vampires Don't Wear Polka Dots.



I read And Then There Were None for the first time in seventh grade and really enjoyed the mystery. Ten strangers vacation at an island resort after receiving a mysterious invitation. Once there, they discover a nursery rhyme about ten little Indians that predicts their deaths on the island, one by one. If you haven't read this classic, try it out this Halloween. The black and white movie is super creepy too!



Speaking of mystery novels, The Westing Game is one of the best whodunit books with plenty of memorable characters and clever wit. It's a Newbery medal book and a fantastic novel for younger readers.

Those are some of the most memorable spooky stories for me growing up, what are yours?