Impostor Syndrome: A Writer’s Worst Nightmare

It’s that time of the day. Time to crack open a notebook or open your laptop with a mission to write. Before jumping into the creative pool inside your mind, the blank space makes your brain pause. Your brain starts to buzz, thoughts blurring together into a frenzy. Among the sound of trapped bees buzzing in your head, one thought is loudest of all. Can I really do this? 

Creativity is a vast and diverse landscape, but people still deal with this question. It’s an unfortunate side-effect of pulling stories or notes out of thin air to create new projects. While it’s prevalent in all fields, it blossoms in creative ones like a weed. If you’re not careful, it can kill the flowers in your garden of creativity. Impostor syndrome is a tricky thing, after all.

Impostor syndrome is hard to ignore. When all you want to do is write, but you can’t help thinking about those who are better than you. It doesn’t matter that those authors have been practicing for ages to get where they are. The evil impostor syndrome plays a Jedi mind trick on you to miss those obvious facts. As someone who often faces this looming figure, it can be a daunting obstacle. Especially in a creative city.

A few years ago, I moved to the creative and bustling city of Nashville, TN. It was so exciting to surround myself with music, art and writers. When I did my first year of NaNoWriMo in Nashville, I realized that so many people had the same skill as me. But they wrote like they had perfected their writing skills at Oxford or Yale. Meanwhile, I was in the corner creating middle-school level stuff in comparison. Instead of meeting with groups to discuss my writing, I hid in a local Panera and worked by myself. I felt terrified that they would look down on me for my writing, even though I never met them. I was an impostor in the writing community, and it was only a matter of time before they found out.

Not much has changed since I first dipped my toe into the writing world. I often look at the wonderful, creative people and have that same question floating in my head. It even almost prevented me from starting this blog. I started it four times before I finally shut up that doubting voice and hit post. I have to remind myself that practicing is as important for writing as it is for playing instrument. I can’t reach my potential without taking the time to fail. 

That’s something I would encourage everyone in a creative field to remind themselves. You have to fail to learn, and it’s okay if you keep stumbling. What matters is that you get back up and keep going. Who knows what might lay in store for you down the path you’re traveling. When impostor syndrome blocks the path, you have to stand tall and deal with the obstacle. The other side of it might bring out something new in you that you could never predict.

Happy writing everyone! Never let impostor syndrome stop you from doing what you love.

5 Awesome Audible Audiobooks to Check Out

In this magical, modern world, there are so many ways to read. Kindles, Nooks, modern phones, and audio books have joined the ranks of physical books. That means we can read almost anywhere, at any time! One of the newer ways to enjoy your favorite story is Audible. For anyone unaware, Audible is an audio book monthly subscription. Through the magical world of Audible, I’ve been able to enjoy countless books. I can listen to them while driving, while cleaning, even while I’m chasing down my dog for his frisbee! 

Audiobooks can sometimes make you miss the feeling of a physical book, but they can also elevate the story. I have been able to enjoy many books more through audio books than through the physical book itself. These books are often non-fiction, or even self-help books. But there are fiction books that I adore in the audiobook version more. Here are a few of my favorites to check out the next time you log into your Audible account!

  1. Six of Crows

Six of Crows, by the wonderful Leigh Bardugo, is a marvel in any form. The story of a group of teens off to pull the most daring heist in the Grishaverse. Led by Kaz Brekker, the most dangerous criminal prodigy in Ketterdam, the group is bound for a crazy ride. This story unfolds through the POVs of seven characters. A mighty challenge for those creating audiobooks! Instead of using one person to play all the characters, each POV has a different voice actor. When they begin their chapters, the character shines through the voice actor. The different voices also help you distinguish when point-of-views switch. It’s also very useful for pronunciation! There is amazing world building, which comes with many new words. Words that my silly brain couldn’t figure out. With the audio book, I know how to say words like Fjerda and Hringkälla! If you’re interested, you can check out this audiobook here.

  1. Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

To anyone who has read my past blog posts or asked me for book recommendations, this isn’t a surprise. I love the Flavia series by Alan Bradley, especially the audio books. Jayne Entwistle brings the character of Flavia to life in a brilliant way. We sometimes forget that she’s an eleven year-old girl solving crime, but Jayne doesn’t. She always includes Flavia’s intelligence and her childlike wonder in her performance. It makes Flavia even more of a dynamic character! This audiobook is also great for what I call the “sciency nerd time” sections of the book. These sections are wonderful character building sections for Flavia, and are super educational. The problem is that my brain is not very fond of understanding science, especially chemistry. Reading it on a page makes me feel like I’m stepping back into chemistry class. The audiobook makes it way easier to understand the scientific reactions that Flavia describes. Jayne also does an amazing job of selling Flavia’s excitement to talk about chemistry. She sounds adorable, despite her discussion about poisons. Flavia in a nutshell. If you want to listen to a Holmes-esc character solve crime, check out this audiobook here.

  1. Sherlock Holmes Series

Odds are that you’ve seen these stories around. One of it’s main characters is one of the most famous fictional detectives in history after all! Sherlock Holmes is a household name, with millions discovering his adventures every year. He has been in movies, TV shows, plays, and more. It makes sense that there’d be at least one audiobook of his adventures. Stephen Fry does a spectacular job bringing the voices of Watson and Holmes to life in this audiobook. Stephen’s soothing British accent pulls you into the world of Victorian London. The language and customs of the time sound perfectly normal in his accent. His telling of the classic tales somehow makes more sense to the modern reader than a first glance at the story. For those who struggle with the writing style of the late 1800s, this is a great way to get into Holmes. If you’re looking for something to listen to on a rainy day, it’s the perfect audiobook to check out. Make sure you don’t forget the warm beverage, especially if it’s tea! If you want to dive into the world of Sherlock Holmes, you can check out the audiobook here.

  1. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

This series is full of strong childhood memories more many people, including myself. I still remember when I read the first book and the first time I heard the audiobook. The audiobook versions of the series are already well-loved by the fans. Jim Dale’s voice sounds like our childhood, like warmth on a cold day. Jim’s voice brings the magic of the world to life with his calming accent that’s full of wit and charm. His voice reminds me of my first introduction to Harry Potter. I was riding with my friend’s family in their station wagon with backwards facing seats on the way to the movies. They played Jim’s voice over the car speakers everywhere they drove. My friends family used to joke that they were the Weasleys every time they pulled out the book tape. When I was older, my sister discovered the audiobook on Audible. We jumped at the chance to hear it again. Despite my many repeats of the books and movies, Jim Dale’s voice always makes the story fresh. And if you reread books like I do, that is always the best kind of audiobook. If you want to check out the audiobook version of Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone, you can check it out here.

  1. Pride and Prejudice

Pride and Prejudice is another novel that’s making it’s return to Sorry I’m Booked. As a lover of the movies inspired by many of Jane Austen’s novels, I wanted to finally read her most famous for myself. One chapter in, I ran into a recurring problem for me when reading classics; the language. I read many classics for high school and college, including Jane Austen. Now my brain correlates that language with dreaded homework. I’ve tried countless times to reverse it, but it’s hard to forget all the papers and in-class analysis. When I stumbled upon the audiobook version, I sighed with relief. When you listen to classics they are so much easier to understand, especially with a good voice actor. Considering this audiobook has Rosamund Pike, Jane in the 2005 movie, as the voice actor, I had high hopes. Rosamund does a great job giving life to the multitude of characters. She even made Mr. Collins worse than I remember with the stuffy and slimy voice she gave his character. Her voice transports you to the world of Elizabeth, and makes the language of her world less daunting. If you’re interested in taking a trip to the world of Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy, check out the audiobook here

What are your favorite audiobooks? If you’ve listened to any of these, what were your thoughts about them? Let me know in the comments below! If there’s an audiobook that you think I have to check out right now, you can send over a recommendation here. Don’t forget to enjoy some sunshine while you’re listening to the next audiobook. Happy reading and listening!

The Mind of a Writer

To the outside world, writers can seem like an enigma. They pull plots and characters out of thin air. Creations that pull us into new worlds and exciting lives much different than our own. How can a person scribbling into a notebook or typing like a madman on a computer create these new worlds?  People have been doing it since we learned to write, but it can still be baffling to those lacking a writer’s brain. What is it like inside their heads? 

A writer’s brain is different from person to person, much like their writing process. Some writers have a fountain of ideas that they can pull out of their mind on a rainy day. Others have ideas pop into their heads rarely and at inconvenient moments. They have to scramble to get things down, otherwise it will flutter away on the wind. 

Despite the varying ways writers approach writing, the minds of writers are similar. Most people pulling characters out of thin air have brains full of little details. Details about the world and the people in it that they use to build characters. I’ve often found myself people-watching to figure out how people walk or speak to file away for later. Or I’ve taken a gazillion pictures of an area that I want to include in a story. Writers have a knack for observation. You never know, you may find a story idea in the color of a flower or an overheard conversation. 

Writing also calls for an ability to come up with tough situations for your characters to deal with. Some are familiar to the writer, while others are out there in a magical realm with no context. Some writers have an overthinking brain, which they can use in this situation. Writers with this type of brain can come up with worse case scenarios for anything. While it’s not great for everyday life, it can create compelling stories. It’s also helpful for those with writer’s block needing to up the ante on a story. If a writer can’t figure out all the details, Google is their BFF. It creates a weird search history, but helps get the job done. 

One of the most important things in a writer’s brain is empathy. Sure, creativity is up there, but compassion is key. Empathy helps a writer get inside the head of a character who is nothing like them. It’s hard to create someone who appears to be a fully-fledged human in the world of the story. With an understanding of those different to them, writer’s can create those characters. It’s more interesting to learn about characters who are different from their creator. Yet they still came out of that person’s mind. 

If you think about it, writing is weird, especially fiction writing. Pulling these things out of thin air takes a mind geared for the challenge. Across the genres, writers have to tap into a side of them that others might not use often. It’s how we’ve been able to visit our favorite worlds and meet the characters we love. Without a writer’s brain, weirdness and all, the world would be a boring place.

10 Iconic Percy Jackson Quotes to Make You Laugh

Over the years, I’ve read countless book series. There are many iconic ones that changed my life, like a story involving a boy wizard on quite the adventure. When I was in middle school, a new series began that brought me as much joy as searching for the Philosopher’s Stone. Percy Jackson, written by Rick Riordan, was a series that had it all. Greek mythology, a snarky hero, a cool female character, and a lovable best friend, and more! Throughout reading the first series, I found myself laughing, and on the edge of my seat.  The fan-named Uncle Rick is a master at blending humor, action and heart. But the hilarity of the series is one of the most iconic attributes. Here are a few of the iconic lines from the amazing series Percy Jackson.

  1. This gem, in which Percy is all of us.
  1. A famous quote…with a twist!
  1. Leo is all of us hour 10 of studying after 5 caffeinated beverages.
  1. The moment when Percy speaks the truth.
  1. The Percy Jackson origin story. And the reason why I’m occasionally tempted to dye my cookies blue.
  1. The beginning of my shipping problem.
  1. This quote, aka the series in a nutshell.
  1. This vivid description of going to the Underworld
  1. The dam classic that is still funny to my 25 year-old brain.
  1. Last but not least, proof that being a demigod is a wild ride.

What are your favorite Percy Jackson quotes?  Who do you think has the best lines? Let me know in the comments below! This was so hard to narrow down to 10 quotes, that I’m already itching to dive back into Percy’s world! In fact, why don’t we take a trip back to Camp Half-Blood together? I’ll be in Apollo’s cabin if you need me. Happy reading Half-Bloods!

3 Musicals With Amazing Writing

Musicals are oftentimes like Vegemite: you either love them or hate them. As a music and writing nerd, I fall into the love camp.  When I was little, musicals were a way to spend time with friends during the summer. I remember doing all sorts of silly warm-ups to warm up my voice for my chorus roles. As I’ve gotten older, my participation in musicals decreased. I’m enthusiastic, but a singer and actor I am not. Instead, I’ve become an observer. I listen to cast albums, see musicals when I can, and force my favorites onto my friends. Through my rekindled love of musicals, I’ve grown to appreciate the writers. Over the years, I have latched onto a few that always leave me fangirling at the writing. From comedies to drama, here are some of my favorite musicals in no particular order.

1. Hadestown

Hadestown is a more recent musical that is a breath of fresh air.  Disclaimer: I haven’t seen this musical, so most of my writing knowledge is from on the cast album. The story is an adaptation of the classic myth of Orpheus and Eurydice.  As a mythology nerd, I love how they took the original tragedy and put it in a more modern time. The New Orleans jazz-style music is a great medium for the lyrics. It’s a great way to illustrate the difference between the world above and the Underworld. 

The writers also use that backdrop to paint a picture of two story-lines that overlap. The plot follows the young lovers, as well as the fading love of Hades and Persephone. The musical uses similar musical themes and lyrics for Orpheus and Hades. It’s very evident when Orpheus helps Hades remember his pure love for Persephone. One of the most successful parts of this musical is the plotting. Despite knowing the myth well, I still hoped that the lovers would be able to reunite. The musical is great at giving you hope for a happy ending until fate catches up. Even after countless listens, the final songs always hit hard. You can’t help hoping that this time it’ll be different, that they’ll make it into the light. If you want to give a listen to this old tale from way back when, check it out here.

2.  A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder

A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder is a comedy that follows the adventures of Monty Navarro. Upon his mother’s death, he learns that he is ninth in line for a dukedom in the D’Ysquith family. Instead of waiting, he takes matters into his own hands and starts murdering his family. It sounds like it would be another dramatic tale. Instead, Monty finds himself in hilarious situations while he executes his crime. The writing for this show is sharp and witty. The writing reminds me of Clue, except we are inside the head of the killer. The music propels the plot forward with snappy lines and strong use of darker humor.  

I was lucky to see this musical with the original cast in New York City. In the production, one man plays all the  D’Ysquiths that Monty murders. The writers use distinct voices for each member of the family. This makes it easier for the audience to distinguish the characters. With the help of costumes and acting of course. The same is true for the two ladies in Monty’s life. Their dialogue and songs are very distinct. The only time they are very similar is when they are speaking of Monty, or are covering for him. There is also a bit of a plot twist among the deaths that Monty isn’t expecting. If you want to find out what happens, check out the original cast album here.

3. The Guy Who Didn’t Like Musicals

This musical is the only one on the list that isn’t a Broadway production. The Guy Who Didn’t Like Musicals is a creation of Starkid, a theater company known for A Very Potter Musical. The story follows Paul, a guy who hates musicals. With the title, you’d expect this comedy to follow a guy’s eventual love for musical theater. Instead, this musical is a horror-comedy where Paul faces a very strange apocalypse. People are singing and dancing out of nowhere! The writing in this play is full of unexpected twists and iconic characters. There is also a multitude of lines that stick in your head long after you’ve seen the musical. 

One of the great traits of this musical is the strong lyrics. They both tell us about the characters and the world that’s unfolding. The opening song itself helps paint a picture of the story from the perspective of the infected. Later songs help explain the infection and hints at how it spreads before we learn via dialogue. Characters also have strong voices in their dialogue. You can tell if Paul, Emma or Professor Hidgens are speaking based on how they speak. This musical also has a great finale and twist.  Thanks to the wonderful Starkid, you can see the entire story unfold on their YouTube channel. 

It was hard to narrow down my list to a few musicals. These are a few of the well-written musicals out there that you can watch or give a listen. What do you think of the musicals I’ve mentioned? What are your favorite musicals? Let me know in the comments below! If you are looking for a way to spice up your time at home, try giving a musical a listen! They’re full of fun stories and songs, and there’s one for everyone’s taste. Everyone stay safe and happy listening!

5 Recipes from Novels to Make Right Now

Over the past few days, I’ve felt the baking bug sneak up on me. Watching so many videos of people baking bread and cookies will do that to you! Since I have more time on the weekends than I used to, I decided to kick up my baking a notch. Instead of my usual Betty Crocker cookies, why not take inspiration from food in books? There are many people who have tested and created versions of food in some of my favorite stories. The opportunities are endless, as long as you have the ingredients of course. Here are five recipes that I’m itching to try!

Image from Bijoux and Bits

  1. Pumpkin Pasties- Harry Potter series

Harry Potter is full of mouth-watering treats. Pumpkin pasties are among the treats that always make my mouth water. Luckily for me, it is one of the few treats from the books that already exist! Pumpkin pasties are a great addition to a fall feast. Or, if you’re like me, year-round because why not. If you have a can of pumpkin puree lying around, then check out Bijoux and Bit’s recipe! If you’re ready for some pumpkin goodness, try out their recipe here.

Image from Narnia.com 

  1. Turkish Delight- The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

When I first read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Turkish delight intrigued me. What was it? Why did Edmund betray his family for some? Later in life, I learned that this treat is a gelatin-based and covered in powdered sugar. I still haven’t tried this treat, but it is an intriguing option. Will I meet a Snow Queen if I eat one? Or a talking lion who will save me from said Queen? These are the questions my quarantined brain is thinking about. If you want to create your own Turkish delight, try out the recipe on Narnia’s official website! If you do try out the recipe here, let me know if you find a suspicious wardrobe full of snow.

Image from Feast of Starlight

  1. Lembas Bread- Lord of the Rings

I was first introduced to Lembas bread and the world of Lord of the Rings when I was in college. A time when the idea of a slice of bread keeping you full for days sounded like a broke college kid’s dream. If you want to channel your inner elf, the recipe by Feast of Starlight is one to try. While I’m not an Elvish baker, I’m sure this bread would still be tasty if made by a human. It might even keep you full on your journey from the bed to the couch, if for a few hours. 

Image from The Little Library Café

  1. Wonka’s Whipple-Scrumptious Fudgemallow Delight- Charlie and The Chocolate Factory

When I was younger, I inhaled Roald Dahl books like they were chocolate. It was fitting when I got my hands on one of his most famous books, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  I was wonder-struck with Charlie as Mr. Wonka took the kids through his factory. So many of the treats tickled my fancy, but this chocolate bar stood out among the icons. I don’t know what a Whipple-scrumptious fudgemallow could be. It sounds almost like a smores chocolate bar. Can you even compare it to any existing dessert? The Little Library Café decided to take on the challenge. She created a delicious recipe that has me drooling for an entire box of her Wonka bars. If you’re hankering for a chocolate treat, this is the recipe for you!

Image from Feast of Fiction

  1. Ambrosia squares and nectar- Percy Jackson series 

Ambrosia squares and nectar from the Percy Jackson series is an enigma. In true mythological fashion, the food tastes different per demigod. Percy tastes his mom’s blue chocolate chip cookies when he drinks the nectar. His version sounded delicious, but I’ve often wondered how mine would taste. The food lovers of Feast of Fiction decided to investigate! They channeled their inner demigod and created a delicious recipe. To check out their version, visit their YouTube channel.

Have you tried out any of these delicious recipes? Are there any other literary treats that you want to make? Let me know in the comments below! If you make any of these treats, tag me @teaandcoffeforemmy on Instagram. Or @emiliz32695 on Twitter. Please also tag the lovely creators of these recipes to show your appreciation! It’s thanks to them that we can enjoy our dream food in real life. Stay safe and happy reading!

3 Ways Reading Improves Your Writing Skills

If you talk to a writer in the throes of their writing process, you’ll hear a similar thought: “writing is hard”. This is especially true when you’re kind of new to writing, like me. If it’s a writer with the cursed writer’s block, the feeling is tenfold. There are many different ways to help improve your writing skills. Among this list of ideas is one that some writers stay away from like it’s the plague; reading. 

Reading, believe it or not, can be a huge asset to your writing skills. This is a fact that most writers know well, but some still shake their heads at the idea. Reading novels, especially ones in the same genre that you’re writing, is a great way to hone your craft. Think about a book that you love the most in the genre. What do you like about it?  Why do you return to the novel over and over again? Considering these questions can help you improve three aspects of your story. 

1. Stronger Characters

Oftentimes our favorite stories give us examples of how to improve our characters. Reread the novel and consider a few things as you read. What are the strengths of these characters? What are their weaknesses? Are there traits that make them especially likable? If it’s a villain/antagonist, how do they challenge the protagonist? Also, how do all the characters add to the plot progression?

Keep a notebook or laptop beside you and take notes. Consider some of the questions I asked and any others that you feel are important. After you’ve compiled a list of these traits, think about how you can apply them to your novel. Make sure you’re not copying and pasting these characters into your own story. They are inspiration, not parts of a story to recycle. If I recycled traits from Poirot and created a similar Belgian sleuth, it would be obvious. Instead, use general descriptions of the characters you admire and adapt them to your own. Are you a fan of Sherlock Holmes? Instead of creating a carbon copy of the sleuth, hone in on what makes you like him. If it’s his observation skills, use that to create a character with sharp skills in a different way. They could be a smart socialite who can read people from their years of training. Or, they could be a dedicated Doctor who spends hours studying their patients to be the best Doctor they can. 

In some genres it can be hard to take inspiration without people noticing, like the mystery genre. If you have an observant person solving a case, people are going to think of Holmes. Make sure you add other traits to your characters to make them more than a carbon copy.  

2. Honed Writing Style

Deciding on a writing style can be a tricky task. You have to consider the genre, the story, the characters, and what you want to say with your story. This is when consulting books in the same genre is a must. When reading them, pay attention to their style. Are they witty? Is the writing painting a vivid world, or one left up to the reader’s imagination? What kind of words and sentence structure do they use? Is it more light-hearted or serious?

Get that notebook or laptop out again and keep the notes flowing. Jot down some keywords to describe the writing styles you gravitate towards. Do this for stories within and outside the genre you’re writing. Use these words to find the commonalities. If you find the witty and punchy style of Terry Pratchett up your alley, think about why. How can you adapt it to help improve your style? I find it also helps to read the novel that inspires you right before writing. If you have the style and vibe fresh in your mind, it’s way easier to channel it in your own story. Make sure you’re not copying, instead use that style to pull a similar vibe out of your own writing skills. 

3.  Well-formed Plots

Plotting has always been the bane of my existence. I can jump around and write scenes, but putting them into a coherent plot is another story. When I’m lost I look to stories within the genre that I want to write. If you experience a similar situation, ask yourself a few questions while reading. What plot structure are they using? How do they build the story so that the end makes sense? If it’s a mystery, how are they dropping hints to the readers? What about the story structure makes the climax impactful? 

As you’ve suspected, it’s time to take notes. Think about some of the questions I’ve asked, as well as any others you find important to your story. Also, pay attention to how the plot impacts the characters. A good plot has to include character growth! If you can get your hands on a book on plot structure, it’s also a great help. I read Save the Cat Write a Novel by Jessica Brody. It was a real lifesaver! Once you have all your notes complied, try plotting out your own novel. Writing key plot points on notecards and placing them on a wall is a great way to organize. If you want to challenge yourself, try using this method to visualize the plot of the novel you studied. Once you have it in front of you, take notes or pictures of the sections of the plot that you want to put into your own story. With these ideas at hand you can get off to the races!

How does reading improve your writing skills? Is there a novel that inspired you to write? Let me know in the comments below! I hope that you can apply some of this advice to your own stories in the future. Good luck with your writing, and happy reading!

A Love Letter to the Weasley Twins

Tomorrow is a day famed for sneaky pranks and a chorus of voices shouting “April fools”. This year, pranksters are having to tap into their creative side to adapt to the uncertain times. If they decide to prank at all. In honor of the day of pranksters, who better to talk about than the most famous jokesters in literature? Today I want to honor my favorite pranksters and fellow twins, Fred and George Weasley. 

From the first time we meet Fred and George Weasley, we can tell they’re jokesters. They mess with their mom by declaring that she mixed their names up. Instead, they are the ones who switched names! As a fellow twin, I know this prank well. Even a rule follower like myself can’t resist switching places with her twin to annoy our parents. When we follow Harry to Hogwarts, it’s clear that the twins are well known for their jokes. Fred and George have pranked Peeves, the teachers, students, and even Voldemort. They threw snowballs at Voldemort without knowing in the first book! I bet they shared a high-five when they learned who was behind Quirrell’s turban. 

Fred and George are most famous in the books for their variety of inventions. I remember reading with fascination and slight disgust as they described their wares. Puking pastilles? Nosebleed nougats? They sound gross and a bit cruel. Still, their crazy inventions had Hogwarts students lining up for more. Fred and George were the king jesters of the school!

But the Weasleys used their knack for pranks for good as well. When Umbridge took over Hogwarts, the students were on lockdown. It was like a dementor went through the place. The Weasleys sold their products to students at a discount with one rule: use them on Umbridge. Needless to say, the students took this request to heart. Over time Umbridge and her posse were sneak attacked by the Weasley products. As a fellow Umbridge despiser, I’m sure the feeling of revenge was sweet. They capped off their tirade with a final bow that I still remember to this day. The twins decided to throw a fireworks show in the school as their farewell to learning. The fireworks sent Umbridge into a tizzy, and the swamp took weeks to clean up. They told Peeves to “give her hell from us” and he took it to heart. If you can get a poltergeist to listen to you, you’ve got pranking skills. At that moment, Fred and George Weasley were my favorite characters in Harry Potter.

Unfortunately, you can’t talk about these twins without mentioning the Battle of Hogwarts. Before that day, the Weasleys were running a thriving joke shop from hiding. Life seemed hopeful, despite the looming threat of Voldemort. Then, the scene happened. In the midst of the fight, Fred Weasley died with a laugh on his lips. It was awful, separating the twins from each other.  To be honest with you, I still haven’t forgiven J.K. Rowling for writing it. But even in the end, Fred went out laughing. 

Despite their heartbreaking separation at the battle, Fred and George’s storyline is wonderful. They are always there for their family and friends, especially Harry. They are the reason he has the Mauraders Map after all! That is why the Weasley twins are the best pranksters in my book. They have the wits and the talent, but also the heart to be great guys and jokesters. 

What is your favorite Fred and George moment? Are they your favorite practical jokers, or do you have a different favorite? Let me know in the comments below! If you are thinking of celebrating April fools this year, please keep a safe distance. And please, please do not sneeze or cough on someone as a prank. That’s a one-way ticket to trouble town. I hope y’all are staying safe and healthy. Happy reading!

4 Fun Writing Activities to Pass the Time

The past few months have been a crazy time for the world. With the quick spread of COVID-19, many are taking to self-isolation to slow it down. I have been under self-isolation for a little over a week. Working from home has been nice in some ways. I don’t have to put on makeup, my alarm goes off later, and I am steps away from all the snacks. But like most, I am feeling the side effects of being in one place by myself. I’ve found myself refreshing social media every ten minutes, hoping for something new. Despite the endless fountain of content, I’ve been stuck on mindless YouTube.

Today I decided that I needed to use this extra time to my benefit. I will take the time to work on crafts I haven’t touched in months, to watch new things I’ve been meaning to check out. Podcast marathons? Yes, please! One of the most important crafts that I want to focus on is my writing. Writing is something that both stimulates the mind and helps pass the time. In an attempt to help myself focus on writing and preventing my mind from turning to mush, I have made a list. A list that I thought might help my fellow writers keep their craft going. If you need some inspiration, these four ideas might help you get the creative juices flowing!

1. Writing Prompts

As most writers know, writing prompts are a great way to get yourself into the writing groove. They allow you to exercise your creativity and explore new story ideas. If you feel stumped by a story you’re working on, writing prompts are a great way to refocus your mind. They’re also full of intriguing situations that are fun to write about!

There are many ways to find writing prompts. You can find books full of prompts on Amazon. Writing Prompts on Tumblr and Instagram is another great source for prompts. They also post responses sometimes, which is a great way to get inspiration from others. Also, some sites offer writing prompt generators. It keeps you on your toes and might even give you a great story idea!

2. NaNoWriMo but in March!

Looking for a challenge to keep your writing mind sharp? Try doing a mini version of NaNoWriMo! NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. NaNoWriMo challenges writers to write a novel in November. There are many of us who don’t know how long they will be social distancing, so a month challenge won’t work. Try doing a two-week version, focusing on a story idea you want to flesh out. Challenge yourself to write around 1,500 words a day if possible. 

There are countless ways to enter the NaNoWriMo challenge that you can adapt to the mini version. If you did the November challenge last year, you can take this time to edit and expand your current story. Or, you can go in with nothing at all. Use this mini-challenge to build characters, worlds, or form new ideas. It’s surprising how much writing you can get done in two weeks! If you want to learn more about NaNoWriMo, you can check it out here.

3. Write about what’s around you

People always say to write what you know. You can take that advice and use it to describe the world around you. This is a great exercise to help improve your descriptions in writing. Try focusing on one side of the room or section of your backyard. Include more description than you think necessary. Or, if you need to work on character descriptions, focus on people or pets in your house.

This exercise is also a sneaky way to get you out into nature. As long as you are social distancing, visiting nature great for both your writing skills and mind. Nature often has a multitude of colors, textures, and sounds. It’s a gold mine for writers!   Smell the flowers! Listen to the birds chirping. Take a notebook with you and jot down words and phrases to describe them. You can also take pictures on a walk and describe the objects you captured. Taking a few minutes to observe nature will also be a nice break for your brain.

4. Collaborate with other writers online!

Writing doesn’t have to be a solitary practice. If you have fellow writing friends, try hosting a Zoom writing party. You can talk about story ideas, read sections for editing, and have a great time! Try creating a theme for each online hangout. One might be all about worldbuilding. During another, you could talk about building characters in fun ways. You can also do the other things on this list with other writers online. 

If you don’t have friends who are fellow writers, try searching around the internet. Many writing forums are already created on Reddit, Tumblr, NaNoWriMo, and more. Make sure you do your research before joining an online forum. What are they talking about? Do the people meld well with your personality? Are you comfortable sharing personal information or writing with the group? Like in-person groups, these are important questions to ask yourself before joining. If you are positive that this group is for you, a fun future awaits you!

What are you doing to keep your writing brain active during this time of self-isolation? What other ways have you coped with the long days? Let me know in the comments below! I hope that this post has given you some groundwork for good ways to spend your self-isolation. This is a crazy time for the world right now. For many of us, the best thing we can do is self-isolate to prevent the spread. During this time, you’ll get bored and miss some aspects of daily life missing due to closures. But this is the right thing to do. Call a friend. Play a board game. Have a writing party with your friends online. We’ll beat this, and soon will be enjoying the lovely sunshine with our friends and family close to us. Happy writing and stay healthy!

Three Fantastic Female Characters I Love

There are some stories that speak to you. Whether it’s the language, plot, or characters, they have a powerful draw that pulls you in. As an avid reader, there are many stories that qualify for me. Amongst these stories are countless characters who stuck with me long after I closed the book. In honor of International Women’s Month, I want to highlight memorable female characters. These women are a few of my favorites who inspire me and are well-rounded characters. When making this list, I limited myself to one character per series. Otherwise, this entire list would be Harry Potter characters! In no particular order, here are three of my favorite female characters.

Image from Wizarding World

  1. Luna Lovegood- Harry Potter

I’m sure it’s no surprise to some that a Harry Potter character is on this list. There are some very well-rounded, unique women in the series. Luna is one of my favorite characters because of her oddities. As a nerdy, odd girl growing up in small-town Tennessee, I  was the closest thing to Luna at my school. I look up to her because she isn’t afraid to be herself. In high school, this was a difficult thing to embrace. I’m still working on this, but seeing Luna proud to be herself gives me the drive to do that myself. 

Luna is first introduced to us as a “Loony Lovegood”. She’s a complete opposite of Hermione, which is both hilarious and good for the friend dynamic. Luna is a bit out there, but her kindness makes her a great asset to her friends. She forms a friendship with Harry, and the others, that’s built on understanding. She is also kind to Dobby after their first meeting. Her respect for Dobby wasn’t common for wizards during this time. Luna is also very sharp. It makes sense, as she is a Ravenclaw, but many in the book don’t recognize her intelligence. In the seventh book, she plays an integral role in helping Harry find a horcrux. In the fifth book, she is a proud member of Dumbledore’s Army. She also casts some impressive spells during the Ministry battle. Luna has proven that writing multi-faceted characters is possible. Characters like Luna add a powerful dynamic to the stories they inhabit.

Image from Grishaverse

  1. Inej Ghafa- Six of Crows

Inej Ghafa is a vital character in the Six of Crows duology. Inej is a Suli girl who grew up in a traveling circus with her family. After her capture, she’s sold into slavery at a pleasure house in Ketterdam. She fought through her terrible experiences to stay strong. Her inner strength shines through when Kaz Brekker, a famous member of a local gang, enters the house. He comes for information, and when he leaves she surprises him. She channels her inner strength and speaks up, insisting that she can help Kaz. Inej sees a way out of her hell and will do whatever it takes to get out. The bravery she shows despite her circumstances is inspiring. Her story always reminds me to never give up, despite the odds thrown at you. Her guts even captures Kaz’s attention. After that day, Inej becomes a member of Kaz’s gang, the Dregs, and Kaz’s right-hand. 

Through her hard work and diligence, Inej becomes one of the most feared members of the Dregs. Many call her the Wraith, because she appears out of nowhere and leaves destruction in her path.  Something I love about Inej is that she’s confident in the skills that have made her famous. She isn’t afraid to use these skills to get what she needs or wants. Her dedication to being the best keeps her moving forward towards her goal of being free. Inej never gives up, even if it involves keeping the reckless Kaz safe. She is hesitant to befriend someone, but once she does Inej is a great friend. She is very supportive and kind to her friends, but isn’t afraid to call them out when they need it. Something I also respect about Inej is her strong sense of self-worth. She has feelings for Kaz that she knows he has too, but she refuses to enter a relationship with him unless he opens up. Inej knows that they both have a lot to work on within themselves before a relationship could happen. She doesn’t want Kaz to hold her back from her growth. When an opportunity arises for her to board a ship and lead a crew that targets slave ships, she takes it. Inej doesn’t want anyone else to have her experiences. She chooses to leave Ketterdam behind and do her part to make her world a better place.

Image via Amazon. French cover of the Flavia Series

  1. Flavia DeLuce- The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

Flavia De Luce is a fascinating character. On one hand, she is a brilliant chemist who often solves murders with her skills. On the other, Flavia is an eleven-year-old girl who is still clueless about some areas of the world. When we first meet her, she is concocting a solution in her lab to exact revenge against her sister. It’s the perfect combination of her many sides. A chemist with an encyclopedic knowledge of poisons, and a child fighting with her sister. After her first brush with crime, Inspector Hewitt brushes her off as nothing more than a silly girl. With the fire of revenge in her eyes, Flavia resolves to solve the case to prove him wrong. As someone who once got a “revenge A” in a class because the teacher infuriated me, I can relate to Flavia. With her determination and sharp brain, she manages to solve many mysteries. After a few cases, Inspector Hewitt comes to her for information. How the tables have turned!  Seeing such a strong will in a young character makes me want to work harder to match her level of determination. If people underestimate you, be like Flavia and prove them wrong.

Flavia’s personal life is both heartbreaking and endearing. The stiff-upper-lip lifestyle of the wealthy British at the time is prevalent in her house. Her father is often absent, and her sisters are often cruel. Her mother’s disappearance not long after her birth caused a rift in the family. Only Dogger, her family’s butler, and Mrs. Mullet, the cook, are a kind influence. Despite the animosity, there are many times when Flavia and her sisters ban together. Her oldest sister can be harsh, but she often sweeps in when Flavia needs her most. Through all the frustration and heartbreak, Flavia keeps moving forward. It’s inspiring to see a young character pull herself up and learn from her mistakes. She moves on, riding her bike Gladys off towards her next adventure.

Who are some of your favorite female characters? Let me know in the comments below! It was so difficult to choose only three female characters for this post. I have so many other favorites that have inspired me. In the future I will highlight more of these awesome ladies! Do you have a story with a great female character that you want me to check out? You can send me book recommendations by filling out the book survey here. Happy reading!