I’ve been reading Rick Riordan since he first released Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief way back in 2005. Of course this was back when magic and myths were getting into full swing with the Harry Potter series on its 6th book. Riordan has two series dealing with the adventures of Jackson, and began branching out into Egyptian and Norse mythology with the Kane Chronicles and Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard series. His newest book, The Hidden Oracle, is back in Greek mythology, dealing with the aftermath of the latest Jackson and company’s adventures. Apollo has been made a mortal (again) for his failure to respond to the latest threat to Olympus. He must find a way to regain his godhood, dealing with demigods, spirits, and old enemies.
This was a return to Riordan’s roots. I believe that his best work was using the Greek mythos, and I’m excited that he has returned to Camp Half-Blood. However, I am also glad that he has attempted to change up the formula that he has used so much. This stripping of Apollo’s godhood is a new development, but I think that Riordan is running out of ideas on how to create his stories. It seems that every Greek story arc starts with the introduction of a new character, a prophecy (or lack there-of), the traitorous twist, and then ends with a grand prophecy. I can respect how Riordan’s done his story building; it is a well-established means of creating a story. However, I don’t think it is necessary for Riordan to do this anymore. The universe has been well established, and Riordan even keeps reusing the same characters from his previous stories. I look forward to this series, but I am slightly worried that it will take the same old story line as his other Greek adventures.
I have been engrossed with Riordan’s storytelling. He’s taken mythologies of multiple cultures, stories that I grew up hearing about, and has turned them into child-friendly, entertaining stories. Riordan has built an incredibly interesting universe, wherein all the old religions; Greek, Norse, Roman, and Egyptian, are all true and have a place in the modern era. Characters from the different series have been mentioned in his books, but The Hidden Oracle is the first book where a god acknowledges gods and goddesses of other religions. It will be interesting to see how or if Riordan decides to try to tie his different stories together.
I never understood how people got into writing. Throughout elementary, junior high, and high school, I hated to write. It was frustrating, tedious, and I just didn’t have any ideas for stories. A writer was never an answer to those school questions of what I wanted to be when I grew up, because I wanted to be an astronaut or firefighter. But I think that’s typical for most kids, because at that age, they aren’t big readers or writers. I think firefighters or police officers, or other typical elementary answers to the “what I want to do when I grow up” question are chosen because kids at that age can see the effects of those career paths. The rewards are tangible. A firefighter can put out a fire and everyone knows that the job was accomplished.
But writing is so much more rewarding. It took me years to see that, but I finally can. Writers have so much influence over people, and there’s a lot of variance to how that influence can be seen. Look at how spread out Tolkien’s influence has become. The Hobbit was originally published in 1937 and yet people are still adapting it into, albeit an overlong and CGI-heavy, trilogy of movies. Hundreds of books come out because those authors were inspired by Tolkien’s world building. I can see ghosts of Tolkien’s work in authors like Terry Brooks (The Sword of Shannara) and Christopher Paloni (The Inheritance Cycle). Even music has been influenced by Tolkien. Bands like Led Zeppelin (Misty Mountain Hop, Ramble On), Megadeath (This Day We Fight), and solo artists like Enya (May it Be and Lothlórien), have songs referencing Lord of the Rings.
Kids can’t see how much power writers have, because they don’t a lot of exposure to anything. But as we grow up, writers in the past influence us, even if we aren’t reading. Through extensive reading, I’ve been able to see how large of an influence writers have. It doesn’t matter if only one person has read the piece, because that person will be changed through reading the piece. Even if the change is small, or negative, you as the writer have caused the alteration of a stranger’s life through words alone. And while conveying a story is all well and good, I think that the true value of being able to write is that ability to influence how other people think.
If you’re a Buzz fanatic then you’ve probably read Melinda Harris’ post, “Three Reasons Writers Might Want A Blog” about the importance of keeping a blog. Here’s a recap in case you haven’t: a blog “keeps you writing,” “builds a readership,” and helps to develop an online “community.”
Sounds rather nice, right?
So we’ve established why having a blog is an awesome tool for any writer. Now it’s time to get technical. You want a blog, but what website builder should you be using?
I’ve provided a list of pros and cons for three popular and free website builders that anyone can use which are WordPress.com, Weebly.com, and Wix.com. I built my own unpublished blogging websites using these three builders so I could personally give you an account of what makes each different.
Before delving into the differences of these builders, let me mention a few features that they all have in common. All three builders are easy to learn, customizable, have search engine optimization (SEO), can be edited from mobile devices, and allow you customize your blog posts using HTML. When used correctly, each of these features will help you build and maintain a stellar blog.
So, without further ado, let me introduce my findings:
Most likely if you’ve ever looked into building a blog or you follow a blog, you’ve come across WordPress and there’s a reason for that. Not only does WordPress power 25% of the web, but it was built with blogging in mind!
Weebly allows you to build beautiful and simple websites with pre-made themes ranging from business to blogging. This builder has a unique drag and drop features that simplifies any website building. For those who aren’t tech savvy, Weebly allows you to contact support via emails regardless of if you’re using a free account or an upgraded one.
Wix is an amazing builder for those who love a little extra glam for their websites. Not only are their themes fun and interesting, but, without having to upgrade to a paid website, you can upload video clips to use as your background. Plus, they have animation features that will bring to life any piece of content you write.
These are, in my opinion, the best of the free website builders that you can use for your blog. Wordpress would be your best bet if you want a no frills website that is devoted to blogging and building a blogging community. Weebly is a wonderful option for both those who are and are not tech savvy due to the ability to customize templates with code and their customer support. Wix is a must for bloggers who really want to stick out by using their amazing video and animation features. Weebly’s and Wix’s easily enabled e-commerce options make them great options for anyone who wants to mix business with blogging. If you’re still not sure which builder to use, create websites using all three and publish your favorite one!
We’ve all had them. Characters that we wish with all of our might were actually real people, because they would be our perfect match. Or so we think, at least. Stories naturally grab at our emotions; it’s what makes us so invested in the book we are reading. One of those emotions is love, whether we like it or not. It’s natural and it’s fun. Here are some pros and cons of having a literary crush. And feel free to add your own in the comments below!
Pro: You become emotionally attached, and therefore keep reading.
Reading is always a great thing. It helps both mentally and emotionally. Life without reading would just be boring. Reading the adventures of our favorite character gets us all to turn page after page, curious for more of what our crush is up to. When reading The Martian, I could not put that thing down, because I had become attached to Mark Wattney and was sincerely concerned about him. When he said in the book that no woman was ever interested in him because he was a geeky scientist, I said “me! Me! Pick me!”. He was my kind of man, so I wanted to keep tabs on his journey on Mars.
Con: They aren’t real.
Unfortunately, authors can take their time to create the perfect character, with the exact mix of traits that would cause anyone to fall head over heels. That becomes a dangerous standard for when you go from the book to looking at the real world. Mr. Darcy may have the perfect amount of broodiness mixed with confidence and sincerity, but the chances are that you would not be able to go out on the street and find a normal person with those exact characteristics that made fictional Darcy so appealing. Dang you, Jane Austen!
Pro: You get to spend a long time with them.
It is so nice when you meet a character at the beginning of a story, and know that you have hundreds of pages to spend with them. You get to know them well, and can even predict their thoughts or actions. It is so nice to look at your book and see that you are only half way through. You will get to spend many more hours in their company to watch their life slowly unfold before your eyes. There is nothing better than reading about every little detail, thought, and action of the character you love. You always want more, and it’s there for the taking.
Con: Your life just seems a little emptier when you close the book for the night.
You spend hours wadding through a story, taking every twist and turn with the character, as if your life was also affected by what happens to the character. When you close the book, poof. It’s as if nothing had every happened. You look up from the pages and they are not there with you. You can’t discuss your thoughts with them, or give them some advice you had. They surely live, but only in the confines of the pages in your hands. The separation can sometimes be harsh.
Pro: They will never change.
Everyone loves consistency. The author captured this character in black and white. Nothing about them will ever change. For the characters you can’t stand, this is bad, because you usually wish for them to have a change of heart. But once a villain, always a villain. The same goes for your character crush. They will always have the arrogance that you love to hate or the steadfast and upright attitude that raises them up in your sight. And they will always say the right things. We can read those lines and give a heart-heavy sigh every single time, because our character will always mean them deeply and earnestly.
Con: You are in danger of becoming too attached.
When reading and reading and reading, being constantly surrounded by that character, you can get almost stuck in the story. I had an experience where I was reading a book where the main character was getting hated on by all the other characters, and I was in a foul mood during the entire few days it took me to read through that. I was so invested that it seeped into my normal life. Real life is out there, and usually does not resemble to story you are reading at that exact moment. There comes a time when you have to separate yourself, for fear of over-attachment.
Pro: They are a great way to find characteristics for a future and real life crush.
Reading lots of books gives you lots of opportunities to be exposed to a wide variety of characters. This gives you a great pool of candidates as well as their many traits to choose from. Now, we know that it is impossible to find every single trait in one single person, as these books often show us that each character has their faults, but there will always be certain things that appeal to us more than others. Obviously, reading about a character with a certain trait is different than any real life interaction, but it is an easy and harmless way to become aware of what suits you and what does not.
If you can create characters that your readers fall in love with, then you are on the right path. You want your reader to invest their emotions into your story, and you can make that happen by creating strong and desirable characters, even if that desire is to hate them rather than love them. Evoke some stronger emotion, and your readers will be hooked.
Though it’s hard, we must all remember that our favorite literary characters are not real. We can love them as we read about them, but we must also love the real people around us. They inspire the stories that we read, and they bring that love to life on the page.
At this moment, everyone reading this is doing so on a digital device. These devices have enhanced our world, no doubt. They have provided us with the ability to connect with people across the globe. They offer us ways to share special moments and memories (Okay, for me it is mostly random thoughts, but still…). There is a great deal that phones, tablets, and computers do, but there is definitely one major thing they all can claim- time wasting.
If you are like me, I pull out my phone whenever there is a five second lull in conversation or a two minute break from whatever task is at hand. I stop to check social media more times than necessary in a day. It is this time that I suggest changing. Now is the chance to put down that device sitting in your hand or your lap, and grab a book. This previously wasted time is going to be put to good use by you. You will grab that book you have been meaning to read for months, or that pen and paper meant for jotting down thoughts and ideas for that novel you meant to write but never got around to. The time spent wasted on social media can have better uses, and reading or writing a book are two of the best ways.
Books draw you into a world that is unlike your own, but with characters and emotions that match what you feel. Books bring understanding of topics and of feelings that once felt unsolvable. Writing can attend to these matters as well. Putting pen to paper carries thoughts that needed to be released or emotions that have overwhelmed your personality. Writing is a freeing act.
The ability of the written word to express one’s personal emotions, but also encompass a mass of people’s similar emotions is unmatched. The written word could be meant as a personal release, but engage other’s thoughts and feelings to help them move past whatever walls they were blocked by. Reading words transports one far away from where he or she sits or stands, while teaching about truth and life in the process.
The time spent reading or writing will be time well spent. It will teach and engage you more than any social media site ever could. This is not only a challenge to you, my readers, but also to myself: to step away from my devices and read and write more often. Now, it is not necessary to completely abstain from any social media or using your device at all. What makes this task easier is taking it one step at a time. If you notice you are spending too much time staring at a screen, set it down, and go grab a book or pen and paper. After a few times of taking action, it will become easier to identify when you are spending too much time using your device. So set your phone down, leave it in another room, place it screen side down; I promise you it will be well worth it.
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