Leo's Angel Oak Tree

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to everyone and have a happy New Year! Here's a funny Song my family and I love to play during the holidays! Enjoy!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Motivational Monday!

Hey there, everyone! Here's a little something to give you some motivation.  Let it inspire you to keep going, or give the kick in the pants you need!

Let us not forget the fallen soldiers and their families. Always remember their sacrifice!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Hello! Today I wanted to share some fantastic news from my school.  Our YWP (Young Writers Program) have published their first novels, written during NANOWRIMO! The kids were so excited to see their names and publishing seals on those books today.  Below is the news clipping from our school district website (http://www.scuc.txed.net/news.cfm?story=1362&school=0). Join me in giving a Writing Community cheer to these young novelists!

Sippel Young Writers’ League members publish their first novel

This year, John A. Sippel Elementary School Young Writers’ League participated in the National Novel Writing Month Challenge (or NANOWRIMO). This competition challenges each young writer to pledge the month of November to pen a novel in 30 days. Yes, you read that right…30 days! Each writer gets to choose their own, workable word count goal from 1000-50,000 words. If the student completes their word count goal, they are validated as winners and receive a prize package including seeing their novel published.
Led by Fourth Grade Teachers, Melissa Dean and Sarah Reed, Sippel Stallions pledged to write a combined total of 167,500 words in 30 days. By beginning with the end in mind, being proactive, and synergizing their efforts, The Sippel YWP made this November’s NANOWRIMO writing challenge a huge success. Forty students surpassed their word count goals, and by month’s end, had written 202,763 words. That means that 40 Sippel Stallions will have their novels published.
Greatly supported by Sippel Elementary Principal, Mrs. Kelley Mosley, students were given Workday Tuesdays afterschool to collaborate with teachers and other writers on ideas and plot points. Weekly Updates on the team’s word count goals were announced on the PA system and a team bulletin board in the Fourth Grade Hall displayed their progress. Everyone from Administration, faculty, and parents cheered on these young novelists all the way across the goal line. Students even received weekly pep talk emails from some very famous authors like Christopher Paolini (Eragon series) and Aly Condie (The Matched series).
This program could not have been as successful without the encouragement and financial support of the SCUC Education Foundation who awarded the Sippel Young Writers’ League a 2010 Innovative Teaching Grant for $5,000 to purchase iPad 2s and iPod Shuffles. This technology has helped so many students to realize their dream of being published novelists.
The Sippel Young Writers’ League has completed the publishing process. Students will receive five paperback copies or one hardback copy of their novel. They will celebrate with an Author’s Day for the community during the last week of school.
Posted: May 22, 2012

Monday, April 30, 2012



Thank You, Elana Johnson, for writing a character with a "Z" name, and quite a good character! 

Zenn is Vi's perfect match, and the Thinkers have chosen him to be Vi's mate. He comes across as a poster boy for The Goodies, or conformity in their brain-washed world, but for me he has an understated strength about him.  He wants to be with Vi and love her, but she's always in trouble.  He believes in her.  He's quiet and content.  He reminds me a lot of Peeta Mellark whose shares that charismatic quality.

And, this is it for me for the 2012 A-Z Challenge! I hope you enjoyed the posts as much as I enjoyed writing them.  I also hope that I motivated you to pick up some of these novels in the future to  learn more about these MEMORABLE YA CHARACTERS!

Peace out!

Sunday, April 29, 2012


Y, OH Y!!

Alas, after a month of searching, I couldn't find any characters with a "Y" name. I have decided that this must be remedied immediately. So, I am going to use this post to share some fantastic "Y" names so my writer friends might possible use them in the future.  So, are you ready?



And the best YA name for a character that begins with "Y": *drumrolls*


After I wrote this post, my students informed me that they knew of a character with a "Y" name.  I said, "Really?", and they said that I had read them the book.  I was gobsmacked.  I couldn't remember to save my life, so I asked them which book. And they were right, in the book, Hank Zipzer #6: HOLY ENCHILADA by Henry Winkler (Yes, the FONZ), there was a character by the name of Yoshi Morimoto.  So, I stand corrected. Thanks kids!



Here's another sneak peak of one of my characters who just so happen to have an "X" name, Xavier Dunning.

Xavier can be described with one word, devious. He's the antagonist in my novel, SOLSTICE, and quite a good one.  I remember writing the climax and finale and having to leave my computer every few minutes because I despised him so much.  I even went so far as to tell my husband that if this novel ever made it to the big screen, I wouldn't want to meet the actor playing him.  He's that deplorable.

But, that's what makes him memorable in the end.  Xavier has no boundaries and definitely no mercy.  He will hunt, torture, and won't think twice about it.  Having to delve into his psyche was sickening, but he exemplifies what villains are supposed to be with lots of twists. 

He's described in the novel as tall and gorgeous with a wrongness mixed with his smile. His eyes are little crazed, and he has a heavily accented voice.



I really couldn't wait for my "W" post because I knew immediately upon choosing this theme that I wanted to write a post on Wesley Rush, one of my all-time favorite YA characters.  He is a truly memorable character from Kody Keplinger's THE DUFF.

Wesley starts out the novel with what can only be described as deplorable manners.  Kody describes him as the ultimate man-slut and slimy.  So, what's there to like?  I wondered myself, but as soon as he comes onto the page, he's electrifying.  I seriously thought, there is no way he can be this despicable.  I played right into Kody's hands. 

Wesley turns out to be so much more.  He's affectionate, sincere, kind, and chivalrous. By novel's end, the reader is screaming at Bianca to look again at this boy and see below the surface. 

I read this novel in one sitting.  I could not put it down, and I rooted for both Bianca and Wesley! It was thrilling and real-life.  I loved the book and I loved Wesley Rush!

Some of Wesley's best lines:

“Spanish, huh?" he said, glancing down at the scattered papers as he grabbed them. "Can you say anything interesting?"
"El tono de tu voz hace que queria estrangularme." I stood up and waited for him to hand over my papers.
"That sounds sexy," he said, getting to his feet and handing me the stack of Spanish work he'd swept together. "What's it mean?"
"The sound of your voice makes me want to strangle myself."
Kody Keplinger, The Duff

“Your sense of humor needs some work, then," Wesley suggested. "Most girls find my jokes charming."
"Those girls must have IQs low enough to trip over.”
Kody Keplinger, The Duff
I think about you much more than any self-respecting man would like to admit, and I'm insanely jealous of Tucker - something I never thought I'd say. Moving on after you is impossible. No other girl can keep me on my toes the way you can. No one else makes me WANT to embarrass myself by writing sappy letters like this one.
Only you.

Kody Keplinger, The Duff



I wanted to take some time today to celebrate a supporting character in one of my favorite series.  She's one of the unsung heroes of Becca Fitzpatrick's Hush, Hush novels.  Yes, Nora and Patch are fantastic, but while I have every one's attention, I want to shine the light on the sidekick of the book.

Vee Sky is Nora's gal pal, and as she puts it her "un-twin," with her green eyes, murky blond hair, and her womanly figure. Besides their physical differences, Vee is far more interested in boys, and isn't afraid to get into a little trouble. I'm sorry, I meant a gigantic amount of trouble. 

And she usually gets Nora mixed up in the chaos.  This is what I love about Vee.  She's the one that Nora should trust, but if I were Nora, I'd have to look at her track record.  She's hilarious, unpredictable, loud, and totally lovable. 

Nora can't resist her and neither can I! Here are some of Vee's best lines:

"Put the damn measuring tape away" Vee ordered."I already know my size. I don't need reminding."
-Vee [to Sales Assistant] (Hush Hush)

"The verdict? My doctor is a lard-arse. Closely resembles an Oompa-Loompa."
-Vee [to Nora] (Hush Hush)

"Don't make me regret allowing you to you to choose your own partners",Coach told us."Don't make me regret coming to school today"said Vee sweetly.
- Coach And Vee (Hush Hush)


Tuesday, April 24, 2012



I couldn't find any characters that began with the letter U, so I decided to tell you a little about one of my characters from my novel, SOLSTICE.  He's name is Uriah St. Claire.

(excerpt from my novel: SOLSTICE, pg. 102)

Uriah had the most striking appearance of them all.  He looked like all his pigmentation was extracted at birth; his skin was pale, his hair startlingly white. The dark clothes he wore only highlighted how devoid of color he actually was compared to everyone else. His blue eyes were the only thing that seemed to emit color, and I silently wondered if he was an albino. 

Uriah is one of the most fascinating characters I've ever written.  He's sensitive, quiet, but when he speaks, he always says something of significance. Basically, we doesn't speak unless he has something really important to say.  However, his actions are what really drive him as a character.  Through the scenes, the reader gets a sense that he's lived for a long time, but he's so young.  He has depth and conviction.  His eyes have seen so much devastation, but yet his heart is so good. 
Uriah has a very unique gift, but I can't tell you about it yet.  Stay tuned to learn more about this truly remarkable character.

For those who've followed me for a while, you might have noticed that Leo and Uriah have the same last name.  That's because they are brothers.

Monday, April 23, 2012



As you can tell, I just love Cassandra Clare's novels.  I actually got to meet her and take one of my former students to get our books signed.  My student fell in love with her books while in my class, and I just couldn't go to the signing without her.  We were so excited to meet Cassie Clare.  She signed five books for me, and one was CLOCKWORK ANGEL (Book 1 in the INFERNAL DEVICES series).

In this series, we travel back to Victorian England 129 years before Jace, Clary, and the gang begin in the Mortal Instruments series.  We are introduced to an orphaned girl named Tessa Gray, who has been sent to London to meet her brother.  Only to be met by the Dark Sisters and imprisoned.  Tessa is a shape-changer, or Eidolon.

Tessa is able to escape where she is rescued by Will Herondale and the ShadowHunters of the London Institute (Will turns out to be an ancestor of Jace). What I love about Tessa is her goodness.  Even though she is left heartbroken, confused, and betrayed throughout the first novel, it doesn't change her. 

Tessa is an intriguing character.  She's witty, self-assured, and charming.  She even gets entangled in a love triangle, and we know how much I love those!


Sunday, April 22, 2012



Simon, Simon, Simon! I absolutely love the character of Simon Lewis from THE MORTAL INSTRUMENT series by Cassandra Clare. In all of his geekiness lies a character that makes me smile.  From the t-shirts he wears to his multiple attempts to name his rock band, Simon warms my heart.

He's your average teenage boy.  He loves music, hanging out with his buddies, and crushin' on his closest friend, Clary.  He gets tied up into the Shadow World because of his friendship to Clary, who is a Shadow Hunter.  He doesn't want to be involved but he just can't stand the way that Jace looks at Clary.

Simon goes through a lot, even being turned into a rat at a Down World Party, but he stands firm with the belief that he loves Clary and wants to protect her.

 For those who have not read the series, I won't spoil Simon's fate for you. He has many ups and downs in the series, but he remains one of the most memorable characters in all of YA!

Currently, THE CITY OF BONES (TMI book one) is being casted for the motion picture.  I'm interested in seeing who will be cast as Simon.  Some favor Logan Lermann to play Simon.  That's if you go on appearance alone.  I don't care who they cast, but there is one consideration for me.  If the actor can't act with sarcasm and pure goodness, he won't be my Simon!

Saturday, April 21, 2012



I was going to choose another character for R since I already have done three characters from The Hunger Games.  Well, my students, who have been weighing in on my character choices, gave me a list of their favorite characters that begin with R.  Rue, the district 11 tribute, was at the top of their list. 

Rue is really a special character. Where Katniss is the strength of the novel, Rue is the heart.  She the catalyst for the rest of the series, although she doesn't appear past book one. She is the spark of the uprising. Katniss is the symbol.

Rue hails from District 11, the agriculture district.  She is gifted with climbing and evasion.  Rue loves music, and sings or whistles all the time.  She is smart, a healer, and most important, a child. 

She is the innocence of the novel. Pure of heart and soul, her death is shocking, appalling, and even sparks an outrage within each reader. 

Rue is a memorable character and deserves the spotlight for the letter R!



Professor Quirrell is the Defense Against The Dark Arts teacher at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry during Harry Potter's first year at the school.  He's paranoid, timid, and frightened all the time.  Or at least that's what he appears to be when the reader first meets him.  There is no way he could be anything of substance. 

Until, he turned out to be the villain.  This is what made the first Harry Potter book so wildly entertaining.  It challenges the very image of an antagonist, the villain. Thus, readers everywhere averted their attention to the character who was the most villainous, Professor Severus Snape.  And all the while, Quirrell slipped in without our ever knowing it.  That was the genius of JK Rowling's writing. 

The twist.  Professor Quirrell was shocking, manipulative, arrogant, and confident.  The total opposite of his other self that was introduced in the beginning. What makes Professor Quirrell memorable is his contradictory nature.



I am so TEAM PEETA.  I love that he is such a sensitive character. Caring and loyal. Some might think him as a weak character, but I don't see it that way. Peeta is strong in character and values!

What makes Peeta such a memorable character is his back story.  He's abused by his mother, bakes and decorates cakes in a district where such things are luxuries no one can afford, and he sees himself as no special.

There is this one moment with Peeta and Katniss in the cave that defines him to me.  The two of them are talking about their relationship.  Peeta says, "I don't really have any competition here in the arena.  And Katniss replies, "You don't have competition anywhere." 

I love that dialogue because Katniss is right.  He is a good guy and no one can really compete with his goodness.  And although I love Gale, Katniss needs someone who can soften her.  Someone who will show her the silver lining int he clouds.  That character is Peeta!



Olivia Vertigo is from THE CHARLIE BONE SERIES by Jenny Nimmo. It's a MG novel, but I love her!  Olivia is a drama student at Bloor's Academy.  She is so melodramatic and feisty.  After doing all of this posts, I have come to realize that I like feisty, rebellious characters when I read.  Go figure!


Olivia believes there are no rules, especially when it comes to her.  She changes her hair color more often than she changes her clothes.  What I love about her is she is tough and wildly outrageous! She would do anything to help her friends, and she loves a good mystery!

If you haven't read the CHARLIE BONE series, you should!


**This is what I'm going to call my A-Z Blitz! With Blogger going down, I'm behind in my posts.  But never fear, I will be posting a blog post for N-R every three hours today.  Then, I'll be back on schedule!**

Nora Grey comes to us from the NY Bestselling HUSH, HUSH series by Becca Fitzpatrick.  

Nora is smart, but she has trust issues.  Patch is someone she gives in to, that she trusts. Only she doesn't know why.  She understands him and sees his past through his many scars, both physical and emotional.

She's paranoid all the time.  Paranoid to be around Patch, and paranoid of losing him. She also feels like she's being followed all the time.

What I love about Nora is that she's such an normal girl.  She isn't especially strong-willed, or flaky, insecure.  She is someone every young adult female can identify with in literature.  Even with all the craziness arond her.  She just wants the boy! (or ANGEL as it seems)


Sunday, April 15, 2012


**I apologize for the shortened blogpost on Michael Weaver.  Blogger acted up and deleted most of the post.  It took me a few days to get the glitch corrected.  Now, this is the blogpost in its entirety.  Thanks for your patience**


The memorable character of Michael Weaver comes to us from the brain of Myra McEntire.  Her book, HOURGLASS, is a twist on time travel with a intriguing romance.  I heard about this book from my friend and fellow blogger, Alison Miller (www.alisonmiller20.blogspot.com). She really loved the romance and intrigue.

Michael Weaver shows up in the novel as an answer to Emerson's plea for help to banish the spirits who show up around her.  Her brother hires Michael (who isn't much older than Emerson herself) from a mysterious company called Hourglass. 

Emerson is immediately drawn to Michael for reasons she cannot understand.  He seems to believe all of her wild stories about the ghosts and spirts. For some reason, Michael seems to know her so well even though they have just met.  He knows her moods, her thoughts, her personality. He's irresitable. That's why he's MEMORABLE!

Thanks, Alison, for the recommendation!!  Also, the sequel to this amazing novel is coming out in June! It's called TIMEPIECE. 


I'm behind a few days on the A-Z Challenge, so don't be alarmed if you see two posts today. I'm basically trying to catch up. Thanks everyone for your wonderful comments!


While searching my books for a memorable L character, I came across a book series that I loved.  It's been a while since I've read it, and I thought it would be the perfect chance to tell you a little about it.  The first book is titled, WINGS.  It's the story of an ordinary girl, Laurel Sewell, who discovers that her past leads to faeries. 

Laurel begins to sprout translucent wings from her back and has no idea what to do about it. She thinks it's a flower at first, but then learns that she is a faerie. 

What I like about Laurel is her dilemma.  She always believes she is human, and wants everything that an ordinary human wants.  She wants a boyfriend, friends, a normal human life.  But her past gets in the way, and a Faerie sentry named Tamani might just pull her away from what she wants. 

So, if you like faerie mythology, let me suggest WINGS by Aprilynne Pike.  The sequels are SPELLS and ILLUSIONS.


Friday, April 13, 2012



Katniss Everdeen is the ultimate hero in a world where heroes are uncommon.  At sixteen years of age, she is the sole provider for her family.  Keeping herself, her little sister Prim, and absentminded mother alive is her primal goal.  When she is thrust into The Hunger Games to protect Prim, Katniss finds herself out of her element.  She must think of not only surviving, but also how to right an epic wrong. 

What I love about Katniss is her strength.  She's tough but sensitive where it counts.  She has this undeniable need to be her own person, to not owe anyone.  This is what makes her special!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012



Jace Wayland is probably the most irresistible character I've read in a really long time. Jace is one of the main protagonists in Cassandra Clare's THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS series. 

Jace is a teenage Shadow Hunter who discovers that the father he knew and loved wasn't really his father.  Jace has a total identity crisis, but still in his heart of hearts remains true to his values.  What I love about Jace Wayland is his cockiness.  Jace is a charmer, and can make you laugh with his sarcastic sense of humor. 

My favorite Jace quote: *Paraphrasing* Jace and Clary go to a Catholic church where Clary finds out that religious dwellings offer Shadow Hunters storage for weapons.  As Jace is throwing daggers, seraph blades, holy water, etc into his pack, Clary says, "Jesus Christ, Jace!" and his reply, "I don't think he'll fit in my pack." 

That whole section had me laughing hysterically!  Jace doubts his goodness, but know that he is a survivor and a protector.  He'd do anything, give up anything to protect Clary.  This makes him very hard to beat, in my opinion!


June is the other protagonist in the book, LEGEND, by Marie Lu.  June is a prodigy.  The only person to ever score a perfect rating on her trial.  She's a legend at the Republic's Military Academy.  Top of her class, and record breaker of performance.  The two people she compares herself to: her brother, Metias, and the most wanted criminal, Day. But when Day becomes the prime suspect for murdering her brother, June will risk anything to have her revenge.

She is so smart, it's almost a disadvantage, because when she starts to discover some truths about her precious Republic, she doesn't know how to react.  When her emotions are involved, she's weaker. 

What I loved about June is how strong she was as a character.  She held her own against Day in the book.  She's a fighter!

I'll say it again, check out LEGEND by Marie Lu if you haven't read it yet.