March 23, 2017

The Importance of Writing

The Importance of Writing

Humans have been writing for a long time. Writing is how we communicate, pass on our knowledge, and share our stories (true or fictional). That's why in this day and age we need to write more than ever. Our words, our novels, our blog posts, are all important to the world. Want to know why?

Why Writing is Important

Writing has power. Why do you think anything important, like the Bible or the Declaration of Independence, has been written down? Words have power, and when you write your words down, they can last forever.

The world today is troubled. There are wars, poverty, homelessness, and more. It can feel like there's nothing you can do to help. But that's where writing's importance truly comes in. Our stories can give hope and truth and shine light into the world.

That's why I think it's important for Christians to be writers. It doesn't matter what your genre is or whether you even mention Christianity in your books. It just matters that the light of God's word shows through your novel. Without hope of something better, there's no point to life. We need to share the hope we have, and that's why we need to write novels that show that.

My dream has always been to write YA books. Not only because I love writing, which I do. But also to give other teens out there healthy books to read. I remember going into the teen section at my library for one of the first times and realizing how much trash was in there. It's no wonder teenagers act like they do with the books they have to read. I decided that I was going to write the books I wanted to read; good books that teenagers would enjoy.

That doesn't mean my books are preachy. In fact, my faith doesn't often come in to my novels. Instead, they embody the Christian message other ways, by following my values and the hope that I have. N. D. Wilson does the same thing with his novels and I'm sure there are others out there.

Application

So, what am I trying to get at? My point is, write. Blog posts, social media posts, and most importantly, novels. Use your words to change the world, one book at a time. It's never been easier to get your work out there. The internet has a wealth of knowledge on writing books, publishing books, and finding readers for your books. You don't have any excuses not to do it.

You don't have to publish, either. You can just write for you if you want. Express your feelings and never let the world know. But if you have something to say, let it out. Write it down. If writing's not your passion, find other ways to express your feelings. Movies, art, photography. The important thing is that you use your talents to share the truth to the world.

Let's talk! What are your feelings on the importance of writing? What's your favorite way to express yourself? Tell me in the comments.

March 20, 2017

5 Reasons to Watch Trollhunters

5 Reasons to Watch Trollhunters

I'm a big Netflix fan. I love watching their original shows like Race to the Edge and White Rabbit Project. Recently, my siblings and I tried Trollhunters, one of the best shows Dreamworks has come out with yet. Tying with Race to the Edge.

The show is about a boy named Jim, who is picked by a magic amulet to become the next trollhunter. He discovers there's a whole other world of magic creatures out there. Being trollhunter means he has to protect the world from bad trolls, as well as balance his normal life. At the same time, some trolls and changlings are trying to bring back an evil troll to take over the world. With the help of trolls Blinky and Aaarrrgghh! and friends Toby and Claire, Jim must protect both worlds from this threat.

They released the first 26 episodes, all making up season one, in December. We didn't start watching it until January, but once we did, we couldn't stop. Here are five reasons you should give this show a try.


1- Great Characters

The first thing that stood out to me about this series was the characters. Each one is excellent. Take Jim. His dad left, leaving him with his mother. They have a great bond, even though Jim is more often parent than she is. He's a good boy, except for the lying about his trollhunter duties. He can cook and is always sweet. Yes, he has his flaws, but he's one of those characters that you just love.

Then there are the side characters. Toby lives with his grandmother and makes friends with the killer turned pacifist, Aaarrrgghh!. Claire's little brother was stolen by trolls and replaced by a changling. Blinky becomes Jim's surrogate dad. They gave thought to each character to make them come alive.

And the bad guys are bad. One of Jim's teachers, Strickler, is a villain and an anti-hero, who happens to fall in love with Jim's mother. He's the one you come to understand best. Then there are evil trolls like Bular and Angor Rot. The latter is an especially good baddy.


2- Anton Yelchin's Last Work

Anton Yelchin, known to Star Trek fans as Chekov in the new movies, died last year. He was crushed by his own car in his driveway at the age of 27. It was a shock, and still very sad. This is the last thing he completed before he died. If you're a fan of his, or even if you don't know who he is, you should watch Trollhunters for the excellent voice work he brings to the show. His portrayal as Jim is sweet and heartfelt.

Because of his death, many fans questioned whether they would make a second season since the voice of the main character died. (When I watched the first episode and saw the dedication on the end to Anton, it made me so sad.) However, it has been renewed for a new season and I guess we'll have to wait and see what they do about Jim.


3- Well Balanced

Like most shows, it has it's share of humor, especially between Jim, Toby, and Claire, and the trolls trying to understand our world. But all that is carefully balanced with darker and more serious parts. Like Jim's dad leaving him when he was five. On his birthday too. 

There's a lot of depth to this series. It's called a children's show, but it would be great for anyone of any age. Good versus evil, balancing two lives, even bullies. The whole thing is perfectly balanced.


4- Beautiful Worldbuilding

When Jim discovers there's a troll town underneath his own, he literally enters a whole new world. The troll world is built on strict rules and they don't trust humans, leaving it up to Jim to earn their trust. The troll world is really well built. You can learn lots about worldbuilding from it.

For example, there are different types of trolls, and they all have their own rules and legends. The trolls also have their own types of technology, like a sphere that can get you places really fast. Magic is also prominent, but it comes with it's own set of rules. One character, Angor Rot, trades his soul to get magic so he can kill trollhunters. I also liked how they chose less popular creatures for their series. Trolls, gnomes, goblins, and changlings.


5- Excellent Storytelling

This is the best part. The storytelling. The 26 episodes, which should technically be two seasons, are carefully paced to keep you riveted. Each episode makes and answers questions, but leaves you with enough questions or a cliffhanger, so you want to watch just one more episode. This is a technique that could easily be applied to each chapter of your novel, or even each book. You'll find, once you start this series, you won't want to stop.

This is a story of good versus evil, but it's also the story of Jim learning to grow up. At the end of season one, he makes a big decision that will have even bigger consequences. He's changed since the average boy at the beginning. Now he's a strong, experience character. However, I think next season will test him to his limits.

Let's talk! Have you watched Trollhunters? Have you ever watched a show you didn't want to stop? Tell me in the comments.

March 16, 2017

My Writing Journey: Thoughts and Lessons

My Writing Journey: Thoughts and Lessons

I realized as I was planning this month's blog posts, I'd never written about my personal writing journey. Each writer has a unique story about how and why they started writing, so it's time I shared mine. I'm going to take you from when I started writing to today, then share with you a few lessons I've learned along the way.

My Journey

I've been a writer forever. Or so it seems. Ever since I learned to write, I've been writing. And not just for school either, though my mom was big on creative writing. I have notebooks full of doodles and stories I started but never finished. Most were just me recreating my favorite books, like stories about tiny people and talking animals. One of my favorites was a tale about a rat who lived in a doll house and had a long, curly mustache. Complete with illustrations.

I got older. In school, I did story starters (basically the beginning of a story that you have to write an ending for), art writing prompts, and a writing exercise where you drew four cards from different stacks and wrote a story including the words on the cards. I also started officially journaling about ten years ago. Most of my entries then were about two sentences.

Then came the turning point in my journey. In school I came up with an original story idea that turned out to be 40 (composition notebook) pages. The original version of that story shall never see the light of day, but recently I returned to the idea and am currently using it as a jumping off point for a new version of it. That was when I realized I could really write a novel.

In September of 2012, armed only with a one page summery of what was going to happen in my story that I called an outline, I set off into my first full length novel. 164 pages, about 50K words, and a year and a half later, I finished it. That version was horrible. It's plot was a big mish-mash of some of my favorite books. I'm surprised it was even salvageable. But that was the start of Jeremiah Was a Bullfrog (which is about to have a name change.) Today I'm working on turning it into a real novel, the first in either a duology or a trilogy.

But that novel was empowering. It made me feel like I could be an author like the ones I loved. I started right into several more novels. Another fantasy book and a historical fiction. That's when trouble hit.

I've talked about this before, but I went through a time of extreme doubt. I didn't write for months. I didn't feel my novels were good enough and that I would never be an author. With encouragement from my mom, I got back to writing and rekindled my joy.

As I reached the end of high school, I started to truly work to improve my writing. I started finding resources to teach myself to be a better writer. I discovered sites like She's Novel (now Well Storied) and Helping Writers Become Authors. I read every writing book my library had. I researched, and worked, and dreamed.

Through my local library, I heard of NaNoWriMo. I thought it sounded pretty cool, and started looking into it. In September of 2015 I decided to participate and began my prep. November arrived and I locked myself in my room to write my fingers off. The month came to a close. I emerged from my room with 50K superhero novel and an amazing self-confidence boost. NaNoWriMo showed me I could write a novel. I was, and still am, proud of what I accomplished.

We arrive at today. I've been graduated for almost two years and I currently work for my dad. I've been working hard to improve my writing skills and learning about publishing, my dream since I was young. The past year I've really been thinking about what I want to do with my life and how I want to use my time. I've discovered I'm an introvert and a multi-passionate, which means I don't have just one thing I like to do, but many. All this affects me in different ways.

I still want to be published. Later this year I plan on starting to build my author platform. (Then blog all about it for you.) But I don't want to only be a writer. That's not the way I'm made. I want to do lots of things with my life, like run an Etsy shop, do photography, and more.

However, I will never stop writing. It will be the one thing I will always do. That, I do know. I may be uncertain where my next step is. I don't know where I'm going. But writing is my love and my passion.

Lessons Learned

Through all this, I've learned a variety of lessons. Here I'll summarize a few of them for you in hopes that they'll help, or at least encourage, you.

#1: Understand what you're doing before you start.

I'm not saying you have to know everything about writing before you begin your first novel. But at least understand the basics. Know what three act structure is, along with the basics of pre-writing, and editing. I dove in before I really knew what to do, and now I have to fix the messes of stories I wrote back then. Like anything else, you can't learn without practice, but you can know somewhat what you're doing before you start.

#2: Never give up.

There will be times you doubt. You wonder if this is the path for you. If you're stories are crap and won't sell. But never stop writing. If necessary, take a break, but always come back. Tell someone what you're feeling so they can help and encourage you.

#3: You DON'T need to go to school to be a writer.

This is the most important thing I would tell every writer. Don't spend thousands of dollars going to college to learn to write. Instead, read books, both on writing and fiction books like you want to write. Use those thousands of dollars you saved to pay for the occasional course you might feel would be useful or travel for story research. Instead of going to school for four years to learn how to write, use those four years to actually write and tone your craft. College won't help you become a writer. Only you can do that.

This was a long post, but I hope you enjoyed learning about my writing journey and the lessons I learned. I hope this encourages you to be a writer your way. Now go out there and write.

Let's talk! What is your writing journey? What lessons have you learned? Tell me in the comments.

March 13, 2017

Author Spotlight: J. R. R. Tolkien

Author Spotlight: J. R. R. Tolkien

J. R. R. Tolkien is one of my favorite authors of all time. If I were ever to find a time machine, preferably a blue one with the Doctor inside, one of my top things to do would be to go back in time and meet him. I love him and his work so much, I did a whole study on him when I was in school. When I decided to do another author spotlight, I thought, why not one of my favorite authors?

Biography

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was born on January 3, 1892 in South Africa. His father was bank clerk who moved to South Africa for better prospects, then was joined by Tolkien's mother. His time in South Africa was short, and one of his most vivid memories was of a large spider. (Often thought to be where his idea for Shelob came from.) He had one younger brother born while they were in Africa.

His family returned to England when he was three, but his father died while in South Africa shortly after. Their family lived in poverty for quite a while. Tolkien started going to school and showed a keen gift for languages. Over the years he translated many books and created many languages. His mother died when he was twelve, leaving him and his brother in the care of a priest.

Tolkien met his wife, Edith, at 16, when they lived in the same boarding house. However, his priest guardian refused to let them be together until he was 21. As soon as he turned 21, he wrote Edith telling her how much he loved her. They married in 1916 and had four children over the course of their life.

When the Great War broke out, many of Tolkien's friends went out and were killed. He himself eventually joined the army, but got trench fever, which affected him so much that he couldn't fight the rest of the war. His son Christopher later fought in World War 2.

He became a professor at Oxford, where he started The Hobbit on the back of an exam paper. He continued to have a successful career, wrote more books, and translated others. Edith died in 1971 and Tolkien died less than a year later. Engraved on their tombstone are the names Beren and Luthien. He was 81.

Books

Tolkien was both a writer and a translator of books. Many of his manuscripts were never finished, which his son Christopher later edited and published. I'll divide this list up by translations, published works, and posthumous works.

Translated Books
The Story of Kullervo
Beowulf
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun
The Fall of Arthur

Published Works
The Hobbit
The Lord of the Rings
The Father Christmas Letters (Not a book actually, but a collection of letters that he sent his children each year from Father Christmas. They are so adorable.)
Roverandom
Leaf by Niggle
The Adventures of Tom Bombadil
On Fairy Stories
Smith of Wootton Major
Farm Giles of Ham
Bilbo's Last Song

Posthumous Works
The Silmarillion
Unfinished Tales
The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien (Also not an official book, but a collection of his letters to various people that are fascinating to read.)
Mr. Bliss
The Book of Lost Tales
The History of Middle Earth (This is written by Christopher Tolkien, talking about how Middle Earth and LOTR came to be.)
The Children of Hurin
Beren and Luthien (Not out yet, but it will be later this year. I can't wait.)

What I Enjoy About His Work

The thing I love about Tolkien's works are that they are so rich and full of depth. Middle Earth was made as sort of an English mythology, and he worked on it from when he started The Lord of the Rings until he died. It was his passion project, which you can tell.

Today, we jump from book to book quickly, always moving on to a new idea. Most authors today couldn't imagine spending years working lovingly on one project, and continuing to write stories there. If most authors spent even a fraction of the time on worldbuilding as he did, books would be much better.

I also enjoy that Tolkien wrote so diversely. From children's books like Roverandom and The Hobbit to his adult fantasies of The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion, he has something for everyone. You can start kids on him from a young age.

His books have some of the best re-readability as well. People, myself included, return to them again and again. They aren't something you read once and never return to. They draw you back to them. I know I notice new things every time I re-read LOTR. It's beautiful.

*   *   *   *

Also, I wanted to point out that I now have a page for my novels. Just look at the pages bar across the top, or click here, to read blurbs and notes about where they are in the writing process. Once I get my author site up, hopefully later this year, that will point you there instead. Let me know what you think.

Let's talk! What's your favorite Tolkien fact? How many times have you read The Lord of the Rings(I've read it around 4 times.) Tell me in the comments.

March 9, 2017

A Series of Unfortunate Events Review

A Series of Unfortunate Events Review

I'm a big fan of A Series of Unfortunate Events. I've read the whole series and though the ending wasn't quite what I expected, I enjoyed them. The distinctive style of Lemony Snicket, once you've read it, is something that brings a smile to your face, even if he's talking about something tragic. I also liked how things were never black and white, more bordering on gray.

Once my family started reading these books, we tried the Jim Carrey movie. It was fine, but they tried to cover three books in a two hour movie, which made if feel rushed. When they announced that Netflix was going to make it into a series, I was excited and nervous, a phrase which here means, I wanted it to be perfect or else. Would they do a good job? Would it be anything like the series? Would they ruin my beloved books?

It came out in January, and we immediately started watching it. From the first note of the opening song, I was in love. I decided to review the series for all the other Lemony Snicket fans out there, so here we go.

Cast


One of the most important casting choices was Count Olaf, the biggest baddy of the whole series. They chose Neil Patrick Harris and he was amazing. As Olaf himself, he was nasty, mean, and said the lines from the book perfectly. In his disguises, he performed just as admirably. To me, he did much better at the role than Jim Carrey. Besides, Neil sang.


Tying with most important is the Baudelaires, since they are the heroes of the story. Malina Weissman (who Supergirl fans may recognize as young Cara) is Violet, and looks perfect. Klaus is played by Louis Hynes, and he was the one Baudelaire that disappointed me. He nor the boy who played Klaus in the movie were quite right. That, however, is just me. Otherwise he was great. And then there's Presley Smith as Sunny. She is so cute. The three children acted wonderfully together and had a excellent family dynamic.


And the second best casting was Lemony Snicket himself. He plays a role in the series as narrator and occasional aside maker. Patrick Warburton plays him, who Disney fans may know as the voice of Kronk from The Emperor's New Groove and Dreamworks fans may know as Agamemnon from Mr. Peabody and Sherman. His role was one of my favorites and it was nice that he wasn't just a shadowy figure.

The other series regulars, Mr. Poe *cough*, and Count Olaf's acting troupe, were picked and played well. Mr. Poe's cough was perfect, as was his super annoying, not at all helpful personality. One of the changes they did make was that his wife is the reporter for the Daily Punctilio who comes in a lot later. The acting troupe is fun, but my personal favorite is the hook-handed man, who is scary, funny, and speaks baby.


Lastly we have the people that come and go from book to book. Mostly guardians. The casting continued to be great. (Though I preferred Billy Connolly as Uncle Monty, one of my favorite guardians. Then he dies. Sorry for the spoiler.) It's interesting because they used people of all races in this series, unlike the all white casting from the movie.

Plot

Don't worry if you haven't seen this yet, I won't spoil it. But I am going to talk about what they did with turning the books into a series.

Each book was turned into two episodes, which I suggest watching back to back, so you don't forget anything. They range in time from forty-five minutes to almost an hour. This set up was perfect, giving each book the proper amount of time to be fully enjoyed. Season is the first four books, The Bad Beginning to The Miserable Mill.


The episodes start with the cheerful notes of the show's theme song- "Look Away", sung by Neil Patrick Harris. Lemony narrates, as normal, and even stands inside of scenes as they go on around him. Other times he'll suddenly pulls you away from the narrative to have one of his asides. They did a great job of making feel like the books. Many of the lines were exactly the same.

But at the same time, it was different. They had comedic moments to help lighten the mood. And yes, they changed things, but since Daniel Handler, aka Lemony Snicket, was the writer of the show, I think he knows what he's doing. It sounds like the series will end the same, but takes a slightly different path to get there. I liked the changes they add. There is more drama and side plots, like a mysterious agent who is helping the Baudelaires.

Or what about these mysterious people?

Fans who have already read the books will be sure to catch several references to other parts of the series. Like at one point when Count Olaf mentions not being able to find a sugar bowl *wink wink*. Plus, the orphans get in so many Very Frightening Dilemmas.

There were a few things I didn't like. I didn't care for how they made Sunny speak. She didn't say those adorable words like she did the book, just baby sounding noises. (Though the subtitles are handy.) And Sunny and Dr. Orwell didn't get in a tooth and sword battle. I was looking forward to that.


Though be warned. There is a major plot twist at the end of the series that is sure to crush your soul and weep with anger at Netflix. I won't say what, I'll just say they did a great job of misdirection. The season one finale is everyone- the orphans, Count Olaf, Mr. Poe, and Lemony- singing a song even cheerfuller than the open credits one titled "That's Not How the Story Goes". It will leave you so sad for the characters.

I think Netflix did a great job on the series, and can't wait for season two, which is rumored to contain the next four or more books. Until then I'll be re-watching season one and reading  the All the Wrong Questions series.

Let's talk! Are you a Series of Unfortunate Events fan? Did you like the Netflix series? What about the movie? Tell me in the comments.

March 6, 2017

A Writer's Guide to Homeschoolers

A Writer's Guide to Homeschoolers

My mom and I were talking in the car the other day about how poorly homeschoolers are represented in the media. I've never read one book or seen one movie about a true homeschooler. As someone who was homeschooled from kindergarten to twelfth grade, this annoys me. Even most computer dictionaries don't think words like homeschool, homeschooler, homeschooled, and homeschooling are words.

But homeschooling in the United States is a thriving community. Thousands of kids are taught at home, instead of in a public institution. In my church alone, half the kids are homeschooled, and the other half goes to a private Christian school.

And yet, in books and movies, do you ever see homeschoolers? Not really. Most of them are either radicals, like in Captain Fantastic, homeschoolers now trying to have a real life, like in This Girl is Different, or not really a homeschooler, more like on break from going to school. This is something that needs to change. While we're trying to have characters of more ethnicities and backgrounds, why can't we have more people taught at home as well?


For that reason, I have put together this post on homeschoolers for all the writers out there thinking of writing one, or to give you ideas to write one. I may be slightly biased about homeschool over public school, but that can't be helped. We'll begin with the history of homeschooling.

History

Technically, homeschooling has been around since the beginning of time. There were no formal schools back then. Children were taught what they needed to know at home, like cooking and farming. Even once real schools were established, not everyone could afford to go. Necessary knowledge was passed down from parent to child. It wasn't until the 1850s that schooling became compulsory, and often done in a public institution.

Skip ahead to the 1970s, when pretty much everyone in the United States went to school outside the home. Homeschooling was considered breaking the law, even though thousands of people did it underground since the '60s. If you were homeschooled, you had to had to hide during school hours or face truancy problems. That's when people started to speak up. Books were written and cases argued for homeschooling.

The reason it came to light was that people were started to object the public school system. They believed that it was wrong. Homeschooling came out from underground and began fighting for legal rights. Some states were happy to let homeschooling be legal, others had giant court battles before teaching at home could be a viable option. The HSLDA was created to help homeschoolers in legal situations.

Now, the homeschool community is thriving. When I started school in 2002, homeschooling had only been around (in the open) for about twenty years. There wasn't a lot of resources, but my parents pulled through. When I graduated in 2015, I had things like history on DVD and computer math programs. Today, the resources are almost endless and you can learn almost anything without ever leaving the house.

Sadly, that's not true all around the world. Many countries have completely outlawed homeschooling. Children must go to school. Other countries have thousands of homeschoolers or need parents to have a license to homeschool.

Reasons

Every parent has a reason they decided not to send their child to school or pull them out of school to teach them at home. Here a few reasons.

They disagree with public school methods. Many people feel that public schools are bad learning environments for kids. Not only is there bullying and peer pressure, there's also all the standardized teaching. Homeschooling also gives you the freedom to tailor your schooling methods to how your child learns best.

To allow children to be children. Going to a regular school takes away most of your time for thirteen years of your life. Homeschooling can be done in four hours and then gives kids the rest of the day to play and be free.

Religion. Christians especially like homeschooling because it allows children to learn without being influenced by secular ideas. They can be taught God's word, along with math and science.

Learning disabilities. Some children can be better taught at home, like when they have dyslexia or ADHD. Being homeschooled allows kids to move at their own learning speed instead of being forced to keep up with others. If they have attention problems, they can learn in short spurts instead of having to focus for hours on end.

Occupations. People that move frequently, like the military, choose homeschooling because then their kids don't have to switch schools every few years. Young athletes and actors are often homeschooled to help with their schedules.

 Because their parents did. We're starting to come to an age where there are second-generation homeschoolers. I personally haven't met many, since most people I know are first time homeschoolers, but I know I plan on homeschooling any children I may have. Once you've been homeschooled, it often changes your whole perception on the whole school thing.

Basics

At it's core, homeschooling is simply learning at home. However, there are different methods used depending on what the parents decide to do. I'm going to go over a few, but there are many different variation and more being made each day. Homeschooling is something that each individual house does differently. There's not a right or wrong way, as long as the child learn's what is required by law.

People also differ on what they choose to do about reporting to the government. Some feel the need to file everything they do with the government, which is fine, and other like my family never have. Neither is right or wrong. Some families choose to put their kids through standardized testing to make sure they're on the right level, others don't. It's all a matter of opinion.

School at home. This is the method that is most like a regular school, simply taken into the home. They often have set schedules and standardized curriculum for everyone.

Charlotte Mason. This method was created by Charlotte Mason in the 1800s. It focuses on the idea that kids should be respected and taught first hand. Field trips, nature walks, and discussions are often used. This is a popular Christian method.

Classical. This one is used both in homeschooling and classical schools. It was created in the Middle Ages and has three stages: Grammar, Logic, and Rhetoric. Each stage teaches something different, and the whole approach strives to make connections between subjects.

Unschooling. This method is considered child-led, which means the child decides when and what to learn. It's core belief is that kids will learn things like math, science, and language arts when they're ready, like walking and talking. They follow their interests instead of a set schedule.

Montessori. This is similar to unschooling in that there are no set schedules, but instead the child chooses what they want to do. It's paced by the child and often includes hands-on activities. Most people only use this method for younger children.

Relaxed or eclectic. This is one of the most common types of homeschooling, which is taken the pieces you like from other methods and making a style of learning that works best for your family. You choose what you think your kids need to learn. There's often no timings, instead the kids are expected to get their work done by a certain time. This is the style my family uses, as well as most homeschoolers I know.

Myths

Now for my favorite part. Debunking all those myths about homeschoolers. All the answers are my own opinions and may vary for other people, but they are what I have generally observed to be true.

Myth: Homeschoolers are weird and radical.
Truth: We may seem weird to you, but that's only because we don't conform to what the world wants us to be. Radical homeschoolers are few and far between, and even normal homeschoolers think they're strange.

Myth: We learn weird things.
Truth: Actually, we learn about the things we interest us or practical life skills, like cooking or nutrition. The nice thing about homeschooling is we can decided to learn about things that we want to. My brother took a stopmotion course, two of my siblings are learning to write a graphic novel, and I personally took a forensic science course. (What can I say? Forensic science is interesting.)

Myth: All homeschoolers are super smart.
Truth: When you read a book like Cheaper by the Dozen, watch a movie like RV, or hear about those genius homeschoolers that are in college by 15, you may assume that all homeschoolers are grades ahead of other kids and taking college courses as teenagers. Untrue. Most homeschoolers are perfectly normal and on level. Others struggle to learn, especially if they have a learning disability like dyslexia or ADHD. Sure, some start college early, but that's their choice.

It is true though that homeschoolers are generally smarter due to the way we're taught. We score better on tests and are better adults.

Myth: Homeschoolers are unsocialized.
Truth: Argg, this one annoys me every time. Just because we are taught at home doesn't mean we are unable to socialize with others. In fact, most homeschoolers get along well with their peers as well as people of all ages, since we work in all inclusive settings. I bet if you put one homeschooler and ten public schoolers in one room, you probably wouldn't even be able to tell.

Myth: Homeschoolers have tons of free time.
Truth: Yeah, we have more time than people who go to school, but that's because we get all our work done in the morning. Then we can spend the rest of the day doing what we want. Score! It's unfair when things like state competitions don't allow homeschoolers in for having an "advantage". We are just as busy as you.

Myth: Homeschoolers are naive.
Truth: People think that homeschoolers are naive and big eyed because we aren't in the world as much as public schooled kids. We are just as smart about the world as you are, more so maybe. We are able to actually discuss what happens around us, and learn about how the world works. We also know plenty about pop culture.

For other homeschool myths and thoughts, check out this playlist by Blimey Cow. If you're a homeschooler, definitely watch them. You'll be rolling on the floor with how true they are.

Writing Applications

So, how can you apply all this to your writing? Allow me to help. Let's start by adding more homeschoolers to books. Especially if you're a homeschooler yourself.

Wouldn't it be interesting to write a realistic fiction novel about a homeschooler trying to go to a state competition that doesn't allow homeschoolers? Or an urban fantasy with a homeschooled character who's mom thinks learning about unicorns in downtown New York is science? Or a family who travels through space for whatever work they do and homeschool their children.

Once you've decided to add a homeschooler to your novel (an excellent choice, might I add), you need to decide what type of homeschool they do and research that. How do they run their day? Is their school online or on paper? What do they do in their free time? Do they go to a co-op? Because homeschoolers are so much more diverse than public schoolers, you'll need to do some work, but it's worth it. Homeschoolers everywhere will thank you.

Wow, that was a long post, but it felt really good to write. Fellow homeschoolers, what did I forget? What did you think?

Let's talk! What do you think of adding homeschooled characters? What other myths do you hate about homeschoolers? Tell me in the comments.

March 3, 2017

The Lego Batman Movie Review

The Lego Batman Movie Review

On Tuesday my family got to go see The Lego Batman Movie. I love going to the theater, since it's a rare occurrence. The next morning I wrote up a review and decided to share it with it you, in case you're interested.

The Review

“Black. Every great movie begins with a black screen,” Batman says, opening The Lego Batman Movie. And this movie certainly is great.


Batman is a lonely vigilante with attitude problems. As he tells Joker in the movie's opening scene, no one means anything to him. He doesn't even hate Joker. That sets the whole plot spiraling into action, as Joker strives to get Batman to admit he is his greatest enemy, and Batman has to learn teamwork and facing his fear of being part of a family again. With a stellar cast including Will Arnett, Michael Cera, Rosario Dawson, and Ralph Fiennes, this movie is one the whole family can enjoy.

An interesting thing about this movie is it isn't all about Batman. It looks at all of the characters, from Alfred to Barbara Gordon (my personal favorite). Dick Greyson, or Robin, is especially sweet. We get to see how they see, find out how the world has hurt them, and how they overcome it to become better people.


Like The Lego Movie before it, The Lego Batman Movie takes place in a world made of bricks. In many ways, it is similar to it's predecessor, but it's also an original film. The humor is always spot on, sure to make you laugh from beginning to end. A great soundtrack including a new Batman theme (promising tricked-out rides, sick back flips, and buns of steel), a few oldies, and some original songs.

Even better, this movie is full of references to other Batman movies. Only the best uber nerds will catch them all. From the 1960s version with words like “Pow” and “Bam” appearing onscreen, to last year's Batman V. Superman, the movie is sure to delight all Dark Knight fans. The villains from the Phantom Zone at the end are also fun for fans as they range from classic monsters like Dracula and King Kong, to geekier ones such as Voldemort, Sauron, and Daleks.



This movie is the perfect addition to the Batman roster. It covers something not a lot of the other films do- Batman's personal life. He was orphaned at a young age and raised by his butler. This movie explores that relationship and the effect of losing his parents on his life. Batman resists families, but can't stand to see Robin turn out like him, so he learns to change. In a way, The Lego Batman Movie is the perfect follow-up to Batman V. Superman, talking about the problems of being a vigilante and obeying the law. Kids, and adults, can learn a lot from this film about teamwork and family and how important they are.

Let's talk! Have you seen The Lego Batman Movie? Are you a Batman fan? Tell me in the comments.