Event Recap: Teen Writing Workshop with Alyson Noël

teen_writing_workshopEarlier this month, an exceptional author came to Mission Viejo City Hall to talk about the basics of writing a story.

Alyson Noël is a very well-known author who writes books for young adults. She started her career as a flight attendant, but after the incident of 9/11, she became a writer. Since she was twelve years old, Alyson dreamed of being a writer. The Immortals, The Soul Seekers, and The Riley Bloom Series were some of the many books she has written.

Alyson Noël began her presentation by telling the audience about her early life. Her family was very poor and she took writing classes to benefit her writing when she was a teen. Her first book, Faking 19, took Alyson fifteen years to write. She kept on revising the book since the New York publishers kept rejecting it because it did not include a conflict. Now, Alyson Noël has written a lot more books that have been sold in a million copies, written in about fifty languages, and sold to an estimate of thirty countries.

Alyson also gave the audience many tips about writing. She explained that all stories need characters that transform, have goals, and have motivation. In addition, she advised that every plot must have a conflict and a theme. In my opinion, her speech was very inspiring and informative. She said that writing is harder than it looks, and there is nothing more intimidating to a writer than a blank page.

In addition, Alyson Noël recommended some books on writing such as Save the Cat by Blake Snyder, Story by Robert McKee, and On Writing by Stephen King.

For those who do not like to write or are not very good at writing, Alyson Noël’s speech might change your mind!

-Riley W., 6th grade

Event Recap: Lauren Oliver Author Visit

Lauren_Oliver_booksA few months ago, I had the opportunity to attend my first author event! New York Times bestselling author Lauren Oliver’s visit to the Mission Viejo Library helped me look at writing with a newer and fresher perspective.

I loved hearing how Lauren Oliver got her inspiration. She had many factors and ideas that popped in her brain and inspired her to write something. She also related to me and many other individuals in the story time room by talking about how she figured out she wanted to be an author. She gave us many helpful techniques that she performed in her childhood. They helped her with her writing skills and the multiple genres that she can now write.

Fans arrived as early as one hour ahead of the event’s start time; a very exciting environment in the room. Lauren Oliver talked to the audience about how she’s been writing ever since she was a child. She loved to read, and she learned that technique from her parents, who are literature professors. Her father, especially, was a big influence in her writing methods.

Lauren Oliver signingLauren has been writing every day since she was nine years old. She first started to compose long novels in her freshman year of high school. In her senior year of college, she completed her first accomplishment of a long novel. She currently has an MFA in creative writing from NYU. After her years at NYU, Lauren started to work at Penguin Books, a major publishing company.

She got the inspiration for her hit book series, Delirium, when she took a trip to the gym. She was thinking about the swine flu epidemic going around and knew that she wanted to write her next novel about love. So, she created the series Delirium, which is about people living in a world in which love itself is a disease. Continue reading

Event Recap: Cassandra Clare’s Clockwork Princess Tour

This is the final entry in our series of Cassandra Clare Clockwork Princess Tour recaps. Click here and here for other perspectives on this bestselling author’s visit to Mission Viejo.


I could feel the excitement building up as I walked through the various doors to finally reach the busy hall. The room was full of fans, unable to keep from talking about the person they had been waiting to meet for so long. And when we found out she was running late, it was obvious that the anticipation was killing everyone. But the wait was not in vain. Two lucky girls rock-paper-scissor battled for a Jem poster. We also found out people came from as far as Northern California to the book signing, so the person that traveled the farthest won a poster of one of Clare’s popular characters, Will Herondale. (We were all pretty jealous!)

When the one and only Cassandra Clare finally arrived with her allies, Maureen Johnson and Sarah Rees Brennan, everyone exploded with happiness. And they were right to do so, because the three authors were extremely funny and charismatic, eager to answer the endless questions.


The waving of hands in the air never seemed to finish, so we all learned so much. Just to mention a few:

How do you feel to know that you are influencing people everywhere?

Cassie’s first reaction was to say it’s “terrifying” because she is influencing people with her “strangeness,” but she loves how she comes together with readers with her books.

Where did you get your inspiration for your series?

Cassie’s tattoo artist friend told her about how in the old days, people thought that tattoos gave them protection. So Cassie thought that it would be really cool if there were a whole race of people that had that.

Continue reading

Event Recap: Newhart Middle School Book Club

bookstack2Last month, students from Newhart Middle School in Mission Viejo met to discuss Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (see my book review here).

The night opened with an exciting game of Pictionary with a twist, using key objects from the book as clues.  These words ranged from Peregrine, to airplane, to psychiatrist (that was a hard one!). After several rounds, the final score –  Boys: 12, Girls: 10!

After the game, everyone sat down to discuss different aspects of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.  A few questions that brought the most discussion were:

  • What kind of atmosphere did the house in Wales have?

Answers were varied:  Some described the house that was bombed, the house that Jacob explored, as “creepy and mysterious.”  Others described the original, occupied house in 1940, as “predictable and carefree.” A discussion ensued about how the repetition of the loop day made for a predictable life for the peculiar children. Nevertheless, when the students challenged the accepted set of laws for time travel, the group became collectively mind-boggled!

  • Which peculiar child had the trait you would most like to posses?


A majority of the group would have preferred to either to levitate or to see the hollows, since that would keep you safe.  When the group was asked “Who would want to have a back mouth?” most did not wish to have that trait.  However, one student did reply that a back mouth would be helpful if someone had you in a headlock, because then you could just bite the pursuer and escape!

“The next book in this series comes out in January (2014), but it doesn’t have a title yet,”  Mrs. Wendehost said at the conclusion of the meeting. And who will read it?? That is up to the students at Newhart Middle School to decide, if they wish to be part of the Newhart Book Club in the future.

About the Newhart Middle School Book Club

Mrs. Michelle Wendehost is a sixth grade teacher at Newhart Middle School. During her first year at the school, she and another teacher started this fun book club. That was six years ago, when they used to read and discuss two books at each meeting. The other teacher left, and Mrs. Wendehost now leads this group on her own; however, is frequently accompanied by parents who join their middle schoolers for these lively discussions. Mrs. Wendehost’s most memorable book club meeting was when they read Twilight, by Stephenie Meyer. A large group of girls came to discuss this book.  And so did one boy, who said his mom made him read the book.

And what is Mrs. Wendehost’s overall goal for the Newhart Book Club? To get kids to realize reading is fun and to read more often!

-Leila S., 7th grade

Event Recap: Lauren Oliver Author Visit

laurenoliver1Back in March, I went to the Lauren Oliver book signing event at the Mission Viejo Library. When she got there, the first thing she did was introduce herself and talk about her life as a writer.

She then explained what inspired her to write. Her
father influenced her a lot. She started writing at the early age of nine. She said she used to write fan fiction, which is a short story about a book you like.

In middle school, she started to write her own stories. In her freshmen year, she attempted to write her first novel. In her senior year of college, she finished her first novel– a different one than she started in high school.

She then earned a Master’s degree in Creative Writing. She also learned to write from working as an editor for Penguin Books. As she edited, she learned to write. After she talked about that, she described her books and read a few pages of her latest novel, Requiem, to us.

laurenoliver2Later, she took questions from the audience. Some of her favorite authors, when she was a kid, were Agatha Christie, Roald Dahl, and
J.K. Rowling.

Someone asked how she comes up with titles and names for characters. She said she keeps a list that appeals to her. She also does not believe in writer’s block. She feels it’s just an excuse not to write. Her
advice to writers is to read a lot and write a lot. Also, to practice all the time and don’t get stressed.


While I was there everyone in the audience seemed to be very excited. Some people even dressed up as characters in her book. When she signed my book she was asking me questions about reading. Lauren is very nice and funny. I’m so happy I got to meet such an amazing author.

-Sabrina C., 7th grade

Event Recap: Kaleb Nation on Social Media

Kaleb_Nation01On Wednesday, May 22nd, a very special guest visited the Mission Viejo Library and spoke to teens of all ages. Kaleb Nation is a well-known author, YouTube personality, and successful entrepreneur. He hosted his first radio show at just 14 years old, published his first book at age 20, and is the creator of websites with over 10,000,000 hits. In addition, he creates YouTube videos with over 50 million views and 73,000 subscribers.

harken_coverKaleb began his presentation by telling the audience how his unique story began a few years ago. Curious and wanting to be different, he played a prank on his friends that was based on the famous book series, Twilight, by Stephenie Meyer. Little did he know that this small action would lead to his future fame and success. The prank immediately went viral online, and this prompted Kaleb to create TwilightGuy (a website that explains the Twilight series from a guy’s perspective). This subsequently opened the door to his weekly YouTube videos, which led to Kaleb becoming the author of the Bran Hambric series and his latest novel, Harken.

Although Kaleb claims that he is an introvert, his style of presentation connects strongly with his audience and shows a very vibrant and outgoing personality. His overall motto and message to the audience was “small things lead to bigger things.” He also pointed out that we should always be careful of what we say online. Things that you post on the Internet can never go away and you never know who will see your posts. As Kaleb advises, always ask yourself, “If 20,000 people suddenly saw this, would I be ok?”

Kaleb_Nation02In order to become successful, he stressed, “You need to be different, be a voice for people like you, and be a brand, or way of presenting yourself. You need to set yourself apart from others, and most importantly, just be you!”

Kaleb Nation is a very interesting and unique person. At just 24 years old, he has become a very successful person in social media. I thoroughly enjoyed his informative presentation and felt that his speech delivery was hilarious. For those who will leave a digital footprint, Kaleb Nation definitely gave valuable insight on the new world of social media!

-Kaylie W., 8th grade

Event Recap: Eoin Colfer Author Visit


Last weekend, a very exciting and rare event took place at the Mission Viejo library.    Mr. Eoin Colfer, the author of Airman, the Artemis Fowl series, and the newly released The Reluctant Assassin, visited the library, and spoke to many eager and excited kids and adults.

Before Mr. Colfer came out to speak, a magician entertained the audience with a few funny card tricks. The magician was quite engaging and had the audience in stitches.  Mr. Colfer was then introduced. He began his presentation by telling an entertaining story about the Irish sport of hurling. One day, he was in America talking about his books, and a little girl asked him what he liked to do for fun.  He responded by saying that he enjoyed hurling. It goes without saying that the little girl thought Mr. Colfer was referring to something besides the Irish sport. The whole conversation between Mr. Colfer and the girl went downhill from there.

eoin_colfer04Once the audience was laughing, Mr. Colfer began talking about the famous Artemis Fowl, and how he got the ideas for the characters. Artemis was based on his little brother, who was always getting into troublesome situations, like the time his little brother got out of art class by drinking water mixed with paint. Then, he told the audience that even though his wife did not want Mr. Colfer to base the character of  Artemis Fowl’s mother on her, he did it anyway. Mr. Colfer would get the character’s traits by asking his wife sneaky questions from time to time. Beckett and Miles, the two little brothers in the end of Artemis Fowl, are characters based upon Mr. Colfer’s sons, Finn and Shawn, even though Finn is now a teenager. However, Mr. Colfer admitted that Butler, Artemis’ butler, is merely a character which was born out of his imagination.

reluctant_assassin_coverMr. Colfer also spoke about the background of his first book in the W.A.R.P. series.  While he tried to make it scary, it did not turn out as scary as he hoped, even though one of the main characters is a psychotic killer magician who makes his apprentice murder people. Mr. Colfer ended his talk by reminiscing about his childhood, and how he was always bullied for reading. Mr. Colfer answered questions, one of them being from this author. I asked him if it was easier to write his Artemis Fowl books after he had written the first one, and he answered yes.

Mr. Colfer’s interview was very exciting, and was one of the most exciting events that I have attended. Mr. Colfer is a very entertaining speaker, and I would definitely recommend going to hear him speak next time he is in town.

-Will R., 8th grade