Wow, just wow. My trip to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

I will try to contain myself. Really, I will, but I feel like a fourth grader going to school with the best, most awesome show and tell ever.

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My family just returned from The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida… and despite the many adjectives that I want to use to summarize the experience, the one word that continues to return is… Wow. (Quick note, wow is not an adjective.)

J. K. Rowling created a magical world when she wrote the Harry Potter series… a magical world that children and adults alike fawned over as we poured over the books, watched the movies, and dressed up like characters awaiting the next release.

Walking around Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade, I was amazed on so many levels.

As a parent, my heart warmed to see my teenagers excited about the world they walked into. Several years ago, my daughter had asked Santa to send her to Hogwarts… had this park been open then, I believe she would have felt she was truly there.

As a reader, I relished in the attention to detail taken to make this replica feel authentic. Butterbeer was beyond my expectation, the trading cards in the chocolate frogs were holographic, and the Hogwarts Express… sorry, have to use wow again. Just wow.

As a writer, I stood in awe of the world created by pen, paper, and the imagination of J. K Rowling. A world not just  vividly created but one that readers would want to visit to experience for themselves.

This trip will be remembered as one of my favorite vacations.

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King’s Cross

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The Hogwarts Express

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Cold cup of Butterbeer from the Leaky Cauldron

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Three Broomsticks at Hogsmeade


A chocolate frog 🙂

So, to summarize my trip to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter… wow, just wow.

An Adult Reading YA

We all have preferences, even as readers. But some readers’ preferences don’t confine them to a specific genre or audience. To learn more about adults who read YA, I interviewed a good friend.

Lee Anne owns a restaurant and mural painting/marketing design company. She’s fiercely creative and reads both adult and YA books. Here are my questions and her answers:

What is your favorite type of YA book to read? I don’t have a specific type, but I look for a fast paced story.

What about Adult books? What is your favorite type of Adult book?  When I was a young adult, my mother introduced me to Sidney Sheldon.  I read every single one of his books and loved them!  Now I tend to look for an author that showcases a similar style, which led me to James Patterson and Lisa Gardner.  I have broadened my selections, but when I’m not sure what to read next, I tend to head for the suspense section.

Do you have a favorite type of type character?  I’m not sure I have a favorite type. But I appreciate all well crafted characters in a thoroughly developed story line regardless whether they are in a YA or Adult book.

Is that the same for both genders? Yes. Just well crafted characters.

When finishing a book, which emotion do you prefer to feel?  Perplexed. I love a story that makes me ponder for several days after completion.  I have read several that left me wondering: what just happened?  For example, the ending to Defending Jacob will haunt you and make you contemplate the meaning of being a mother.

What are you looking for in a good book?  The book has to catch my attention quickly and move at a fast pace through the story. And I love when then ending is a twist that I did not anticipate.

How much does the cover art influence your choice in books?  I usually know what I am looking when I go get a book, however, if I don’t, the cover greatly influences me.

What else impacts your choice in books?  Opinions of friends, best sellers, and online reviews

Do you have a lot of recommendations from friends? Yes

What are you reading now? The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Best book that you’ve read?  Several… Defending Jacob by William Landay, Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Just to name few.

Quest. It’s the new vacation.

Words hold great power. And writing is the art of assembling words into sentences, paragraphs, and ultimately, a story. Finding the right word to fit the occasion is a challenging task. One word, one synonym can change the message.

While reading, I came across the word quest.

It’s a great term that suggests a wild adventure or harrowing experience in pursuit of something rare and valuable. A trip that requires more than the participants realize and that leaves them forever altered. A trip that becomes a monument in the landscape of their memories. A quest sounds like a big deal.

I decided to compare the terms quest and vacation.

According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of quest, is:

: a journey made in search of something

: a long and difficult effort to find or do something

Photo Credit: Flickr by Scott Wills

Photo Credit: Flickr by Scott Wills

 and the definition of a vacation is:

: a period of time that a person spends away from home, school, or business usually in order to relax or travel

: the number of days or hours per year for which an employer agrees to pay workers while they are not working

: a time when schools, colleges, and universities are closed

Photo Credit: Flickr by (aka Brent)

Photo Credit: Flickr by (aka Brent)

When we go on a trip, we search for relaxation, a break in the routine, and an adventure. We want memories that stand out and an experience that isn’t just time away, but time well spent. And getting ready requires a lot of effort. Therefore, as of today, I have decided to officially change the name of our family excursions from vacations to quests. Sounds more exciting, don’t you agree?

Hello, my name is…

I love hopping around author’s websites and seeing how many people identify themselves as introverts.


Twice I’ve taken the Myers Briggs Personality Indicator, and twice I’ve come up as an introvert. But I really didn’t need a test to tell me that. (Now granted, the Myers Briggs doesn’t just look at the ability or comfort of dealing with people or how energy is drawn, it delves much deeper into the personality as a whole. Thought I should add that disclaimer so people wouldn’t thinking I was bashing the test. Very informative.)

What’s funny is that both times I took the test, the people closest to me were amazed that I’d ended up an introvert.

But I think I may be an introvert only part of the time. (And to be honest, the Myers Briggs states that people can vacillate between the two.)

I think we are all a complex collection of reactions that differ based on various stimuli. Okay, say what?

Put me in a group of my friends and I can laugh loud enough to elicit polite warnings from the wait staff. Seat me at a dinner table with folks I don’t know and I may be branded a mute. Place me beside a talkative person in the grocery line, I’ll talk about anything from the weather to the best paper towels. Line me up with a shy person, and crickets and cash register keys is all you’ll hear. Give me a project to work on and I’ll either want to run the show or be a workhorse, it all depends on the group and the day.

For the most part, I consider myself an introvert, but I’ve grown to realize that one word doesn’t sum up who I am. And if you ever want to talk face-to-face, I’ll be happy to… just don’t expect me to go first.

How do you characterize yourself? Is that consistent?





Sharing The Writing Process

The charming and talented Abby J. Reed asked me to join the Writing Process blog hop. And I’m glad I agreed.

Writing is an individual endeavor. I often forget that other writers might face similar challenges, experience the same satisfactions, and perhaps edit the same chapter fourteen times too. The Writing Process blog hop offered me a peek at the inner workings of other writers. (And made me think about my own.)

1) What are you working on?

I have two WIP’s right now. Two very different WIP’s. The first is a fairy tale retelling named Ryder and Wolfe that started as my Nano project. (A YA Fantasy with Paranormal elements.) It’s Red Riding Hood in 2014. With Red now a seventeen-year-old male named Ryder and the wolf a Mayor bent on finding donors to treat his family’s chronic condition. Finding grandma isn’t the only priority. I stepped away from this WIP while I worked on my edits (if you saw my post entitled Lost, this was the WIP I discussed)  and now I’m diving back in.

My second WIP is a YA contemporary. (I hope to keep it a contemporary. Demons may pop up at anytime.) That’s all I can share about that one. It’s not super secret, just super fragile 😉

I’m also in the editing stages of The Undead which will be published by Curiosity Quills this year. Katie Teller saw me pitching this story last year during Pitmad. Here are the two pitches I used: Corpses aren’t 16yo Lyla’s biggest problem. She can either save the brother she idolizes or the reaper she loves. YAPR     16 yo Lyla can save the reaper she’s falling for if she’s willing to sacrifice the brother she idolizes. YAPR

2) How does your work differ from others in its genre?
What an interesting question. To borrow from Forrest Gump, I feel like stories in the same genre are often like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get until you bite into one. Stories consist of the same ingredients, but the recipe of characters, conflict, pace and plot differs. That’s what  makes reading and writing so rewarding.
In The Undead, I approached the relationship between the brother and sister with a greater focus because it was my anchor. The Undead qualifies as paranormal with elements of horror, but I kept the gore along the lines of eerie and not unsettling. At least, that was my goal.
3) Why do you write what you do?
Because writing makes me happy, seriously. That seems like such a simple answer, but sometimes simple answers are the best. I write the stories that come to life in my mind and the YA genre is so rich and complicated. I love being here.
4) How does your writing process work?
Oh, heavens. I am Type A with tornado tendencies. I like things organized and planned, but my mind often operates chaotically. Creatively, I’m a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants person. When I first get an idea, I mull over it for a few days, test driving the plausibility in my mind. This is sometimes super challenging because I want to sit down and pound it out…immediately. But I’m learning to hold back and let it percolate. If I think I can run with the idea, I’ll jot down a few notes, maybe prepare a rough outline, and then take off. I use Scrivener to organize my work and my WIP stays in Scrivener until I’m ready for a real first edit. I then transfer the ms to MSWord for the remainder of the journey.
After I have a first draft, I go back and apply Dan Wells Seven Point Story Structure as a litmus test. (Backwards thinking I know, but it works for me.)
I also have awesome CP’s that exchange work with me along the way and hold me to my deadlines. (I use Text to Speech when editing and have my laptop read my story aloud.)
Thanks again to Abby Reed for inviting me to join the hop. Please look out for the following bloggers to join the hop between February 14th and February 21st.
Next week’s featured bloggers:

KisaWhipkeyKisa Whipkey is a dark fantasy author, a martial arts demo team expert, and a complete sucker for Cadbury Mini-eggs. She’s also the Editorial Director for YA/NA publisher, REUTS Publications. She developed a passion for storytelling at a young age and has pursued that love through animation, writing, video game design and demo teams until finally finding her home in editing. She believes in good storytelling, regardless of medium, and applauds anything featuring a snarky lead character, a complicated narrative structure, and brilliant/uncommon analogies. Currently, she lives in the soggy Pacific Northwest with her husband and plethora of electronics.

Her personal blog–featuring sarcastic commentary on all things storytelling–is located at Or connect with her via Twitter: @kisawhipkey. And, of course, to learn more about REUTS Publications, please visit

Kisa will be blogging about her writing process and her editor’s perspective.

jayrespic Jamie Ayres writes young adult paranormal love stories by night and teaches young adults as a Language Arts middle school teacher by day. When not at home on her laptop or at school, she can often be found at a local book store grabbing random children and reading to them. So far, she has not been arrested for this. Although she spent her youthful summers around Lake Michigan, she now lives in Florida with her prince charming, two children (sometimes three based on how Mr. Ayres is acting), and a basset hound. She really does have grandmothers named Olga and Gay but unlike her heroine, she’s thankfully not named after either one of them. She loves lazy pajama days, the first page of a good book, stupid funny movies, and sharing stories with fantastic people like you. Her books include the first two installments of her trilogy, 18 Things and 18 Truths. Visit her online via Twitter, Facebook, or at

self pic T.A. Brock spends her days gleefully plucking words from the chaos of life and dressing them up so they look pretty. Then she calls them stories and tries to convince people to read them. She resides in the great land of tornadoes (Oklahoma) with her husband, two children, and her beloved Kuerig machine.

You can catch her on Twitter @TA_Brock or visit her blog


Thanks again for stopping by. If you’d like to join the Writing Process Blog Hop to share your own story, let me know! And don’t forget to check out Kisa, Jamie, and T.A.’s blogs.

4Abby J Reed writes YA sci-fi novels that ask what if, whether set in a parallel world or in deep space. She snuck away from Wheaton College with an English and Writing Concentration degree and is one measly hour from finishing a Certificate in Christian Formation and Soul Care from Denver Seminary.

Abby wrestles with Chronic Migraine and is an active member of the Art Students League of Denver, where she lives with her sexy husband. If her hands aren’t on the keyboard, they are stained purple and blue with paint. Read more about Abby at Abby