A Writer Versus Her First Draft

When I first pinned the title “writer” to my metaphorical name tag, I was a bit skeptical of its legitimacy. I’m sure that I fell under the writing bucket. But was I a writer? Does it even count if you’ve never finished something? Most of these questions sprouted every time I began a new project. Exciting at first, sure. But after a while, it looks like a bunch of drivel in black and white that I can do nothing about. This is when I want to rip my writing badge off me and stalk off to find a new creative outlet. After a few years of grumbling about it, I realized my issue. The same issue that I know other writers face. The dreaded first draft.

I have always heard that it’s okay if the first draft is not great. The point of a first draft, after all, is to get the story out of your brain and onto paper. An already difficult feat without throwing the pressure of making every line perfect. This is where my issues come in. I am what many would call a “Type A” person. Within that “Type A” personality lies good old perfectionism. It’s no surprise that this seeps into my creative side also, especially for writing. I am often side-tracked when writing a story. I want every detail to be perfect and fact-checked, even in the first draft. It throws me off my rhythm and makes the creation of this first draft take forever. In fact, as I am writing this, I have never completed the first draft of a novel. The pressure for it to match the caliber of some of my favorite novels is immense. Enough for me to put my tail between my legs and throw out another prospective story.

Believe it or not, I know that this is an idiotic thing to do. It’s scary to write yes, but why would I ever think that my favorite stories were perfect in their first form? To be honest, I’m not sure. It could be something I heard in English class. Or I never let go of my childlike wonder of books. Younger Emily always imagined that Rick Riordan created well-crafted stories without any editing. I have a tendency to romanticize how creative things get made, especially novels. It took awhile for me to move from the perspective of a reader to the author peering at the creation process. One of the reasons I started this blog was to give myself more motivation to do that. If I challenge myself to talk about writing every-other week, that will help me when I sit down with a story! Right?

So far, this strategy has not played out. Outside sources like COVID and life “adventures” have made it hard for me to sit down and write outside of this blog. I’m not sure if this blog or my studies of writing will help me inch up the first draft mountain. But this uncertainty will not prevent me from taking NaNoWriMo 2020 head on! I already decided at the end of last year’s challenge that I will push myself even more this year. Who knows, I may even hit a new personal record! If you’re in the same struggle boat as me, try taking on a challenge like NaNoWriMo. I’ve gotten much more confident in my skills in the two years that I’ve tried to complete it. Each year I get a drive to do better, and even hit that crazy word count goal. If I do, then I can finally say I’ve written a first draft. 

What are your thoughts on first drafts? Do you have any advice on how to deal with the frustrations that come with them? Let me know in the comments down below! I appreciate any time y’all respond and give me advice. It’s helped me so much with this blog, and with my writing! I can’t wait to see what y’all say.  Also, please share any stories you have about the draft-writing process! I’d love to hear how y’all climbed up the first-draft mountain. Thanks so much for reading, and happy writing!

5 Classics I Actually Enjoyed Reading in School

Somehow, we’ve reached the time when the school supply section is back in stores. The fresh smell of college-lined paper is in the air all around us. Unfortunately, this time is more complicated than back-to-school last year. But whichever way this situation plays out, the time of learning is almost back. As someone somewhat fresh out of school, I still have a vivid memory of the long nights of studying and homework. One of the things I both dreaded and looked forward to was the reading. I’m sure this isn’t a surprise, but I was the person who would read extra books on the summer reading list. But not all books you read in school are fun, especially once you get into the classics. There were many that I read with a tinge of annoyance. But, it was surprising to find that a few of these classics were good and interesting to me.

Image from Goodreads.com

  1. The Alchemist– Paulo Coelho

My sophomore year of high school is not a year that I remember well. There are gaps in the time frame that I have to ask others to fill in. But I can’t forget the feeling of reading this book. The Alchemist is like many stories. A young man goes on a quest to find a treasure far away. During his journey, he learns more about the real treasures of life. It sounds like many of the hero’s journey stories that you read in school. The fascinating thing about this simple story was its impact. Everyone in my class felt excited to talk about the story, excited to read another chapter. Many of us finished the book early because we were so captured by the story. To me, this novel is a classic because of its simplicity. We can all put ourselves in the shoes of that shepherd boy traveling the world. It didn’t have dark themes or a tragic ending, but still managed to get its point across to a group of sixteen year-olds. It was a light in a sea of darker novels. Someday, I want to read this book again and again to capture the feeling it gave me all those years ago. If you want to learn more about this book, you can check it out on Goodreads here.

Image from Goodreads.com

  1. The Odyssey– Homer

Reading this classic was enjoyable for a few reasons. First, my love of Greek of mythology. When the gods I loved to read about growing up popped up, I loved discussing their sections of the story. Also, it’s a fun mix of a road trip story and a hero’s journey-style quest. I was starting to enjoy these types of stories around the time I read this, so it was perfect timing. The most important thing, though, was not the story itself. They say that teachers change your outlook on a subject. For me, that was the case with this book and my freshman honors English teacher. Mr. Barlew had a great way of explaining stories to make them more applicable to modern readers. This was true for The Odyssey. While it’s full of adventures, the language can be a bit hard to decipher. Mr. Barlew used creative ways of teaching to make this story more fun to read. This included acting out the final battle between Odysseus and Penelope’s suitors. Picture a group of fifteen year-olds play-fighting in a library with yardsticks. Needless to say, that rocketed this classic into my top ten. If you want to learn more about this classic tale, you can check it out on Goodreads here.

Image from Goodreads.com

  1. Sense and Sensibility–  Jane Austen

This classic is the only one on the list that I read in college. Sure, I was familiar with Austen’s work, but I hadn’t read any of it until my second semester of Freshman year. I had heard the title of this story before, but I knew little to nothing about the characters. What drew me to this classic was the sister dynamic. I have a sister, and even though we aren’t exactly like Elinor and Marianne, it was easy to relate to them. Also, I’m a bit more of a hopeless romantic than my sister, so I felt their dynamic on a deep level. I read a moment where Marianne was being a bit dramatic about something and thought “oh look, it’s me”. After reading the book, we also watched the movie. It stars my favorite almost name-buddy, so I knew I would love it. I love Emma Thompson, and it was fun to see Alan Rickman out of his Snume. This movie did add to my love of the story because of the actor’s ability to bring their characters into being. Emma felt like Elinor, and Kate excelled as Marianne. Sometimes watching the movie version does help you appreciate the story more! If you want to dive into Austen’s tale, you can check it out on Goodreads here.

Image from Goodreads.com

  1. The Things They Carried– Tim O’Brien

When I first saw this story on the list of reading for my I.B. English class, I was a bit skeptical. For me, stories involving war can go three ways when I read them. The first results in a very sad Emily who is just depressed about life now… thanks book. The second is a more action-movie approach that has me reading on the edge of my seat like I’m watching an Avengers film. The third is a book written in boring, detached language that makes it a droll to get through. This classic took these ideas and threw them out the window. The writing style was like an interesting fiction novel. Also, the themes blew my fellow classmates’ minds. I don’t want to spoil much if you haven’t read this story, but we had a lot of great conversations about the meaning of “truth”. Intrigued? You can learn more about O’Brien’s story here.

Image from Goodreads.com

  1. Romeo and Juliet– William Shakespeare

This may seem like a cliche, but hear me out. This was the first Shakespeare play I ever read. Is it my favorite? No. But I have such fond memories reading this play in class. That is again thanks to the wonderful Mr. Barlew. Teachers can make a big difference y’all. He took a No Fear Shakespeare approach to teaching us the play. For example, he explained to us that “do you bite your thumb at me sir” is equal to someone flipping you off. He then proceeded to read the passage over using the modern terminology, which made it a lot funnier. We acted out scenes and had lively discussions. Also, the blubbering of the boys in my class when they learned of the age gap was eventful. Want to revisit this iconic play and it’s quips? You can check it out here

While there have been the duds over the years, I’ve been lucky to read many more classics that I still enjoy to this day. I’ve been consulting my list recently to find some books that I want to give another read. I’m looking forward to revisiting not only the stories, but also the memories I associate with them. What are your favorite classics that you read in school? Do you have any that you think I need to check out? Let me know in the comments below! Thanks so much for stopping by my blog, and happy reading!

A Journalism Major in a Poetry Class

There are so many different ways to write. But sometimes it’s easy to forget the complexities of these different writing types.  When I started college, my writing experience wasn’t the vastest. It consisted of MLA formatted essays and the beginnings of stories left unfinished. I didn’t step out into the wide writing world until college. I learned APA, how to write press releases, and after a while, poetry writing. In a move that was both scary and exciting, I managed to weasel my way into an English major’s class as a Journalism major. I had pitched it to my advisor as a great way for me to hone my writing skills in case I wanted to be a copywriter. Whatever it takes right? 

Before I took this class, I had mildly ventured out into the world of poetry. When an emotion became too vivid, it was somehow easier for me to channel into poetry than anything else. I even got a few published in my university’s publication. But I didn’t consider myself enough to be a poet. The world of poetry is vast and intimidating, especially for a girl who doesn’t consider herself a writer. Because my poetry wasn’t deep or full of clever author choices, it didn’t feel good enough. Needless to say, my imposter syndrome was pretty high when I walked into my poetry class. 

Thankfully, my professor was encouraging and not at all condescending towards my writing. Which was a blessing to me, because my writing felt juvenile compared to some of the works we were reading. During that time, we kept a journal and had the task of writing a few poems in it a week. As the semester progressed, I felt less perturbed by the blank page when it was time to write. In fact, I sometimes found myself jotting down an idea on my phone to write in the journal later. It was so exciting to feel the current of creativity flowing out of me. Even if my writing wasn’t as “sophisticated” as my classmates’, I was happy with what I had. 

I found that my PR classes helped a lot with my writing instead of hindering it. In a press release, you have to include as much information as possible within a limited word count. Because of this, you have to be strategic when choosing your words. I found this also true when I was writing poetry for class. When you craft a poem, each word you choose matters. It was challenging, but also comforting in its familiarity. I channeled the wisdom I learned from my JMC classes to help me, especially when I was editing my poetry. 

Taking a poetry class also helped my writing skills in my JMC classes. This class allowed me to explore a new writing style that was actually super helpful in my JMC classes. During the time of my poetry class, I was working on a campaign for an advertising competition with my class. The writing experience I got in my poetry class helped me edit the copy for the ads we were pitching. I  discovered that it also helped with my brainstorming process. I guess they both pull from the same pool of creativity! 

In the end, I found my experience in my poetry class to be a big help to my writing and creativity. What about y’all? Have you ever taken a poetry class, and what was the experience like? How did it help out in other parts of your life? Let me know in the comments below! Thanks so much for reading, and happy writing everyone!

A Novelist Learns How to Write a Screenplay

The world of writing is vast and full of many different mediums. I have placed myself in the part of that world for novelists and blog post writers. But I often wonder what it’s like for the other worlds of writers. After all, even if the process is similar, the product is so different. In my quest to learn more about writing, I wanted to visit a new section of the writing world: screenplays.

To assist me in my quest to learn more about screenplay writing, I referenced Save the Cat by Blake Snyder. He takes interested scriptwriters through the process of writing, pitching, and more. I’ve read Save the Cat! Writes a Novel by Jessica Brody, which used Synder’s book as inspiration. I decided to use these two books to compare the processes for writing a novel, and writing a screenplay.

When reading these two books, I discovered that the writing process is very similar. Not a huge surprise, but interesting when you consider one is more of a visual medium. It’s also the case when you consider that Brody’s process took inspiration from Snyder’s book. There are similar genres with the same beats when you are plotting them on your cards and storyboard. The story structure is also very similar, with the classic three acts like the hero’s journey. Dialogue for both types of writing is very important and vital, but “show don’t tell” is still king. 

It was interesting to me that one of the big differences in these processes is the prep and pitch work. When prepping for a screenplay, you focus on a one-sentence pitch to get the story across, aka the logline. It has to get the point across, and tell executives the target audience and how much it’ll cost. Also, you have to be able to picture the movie poster from your logline. A very hefty sentence! In novel writing, you have a bit more wiggle room, and you don’t have to worry about cost and target audience as much. Snyder says that you have to test your logline out in the real world to see if it fits. Instead of passing it along to your peers like you might do for your novel, you pitch it to anyone. Strangers in line with you at a coffee shop? Check. Your neighbor who you see when you take out the trash every morning? Also yes. It’s a more extroverted approach to testing the waters, and it makes more sense. In screenplays, the target audience aims to be as mass-market as possible. This makes it simpler to sell to executives and audiences. So testing it out with a bunch of different people is a great way to see if it falls into that realm. 

The pitch work has some overlap. You sometimes need an agent, but who you know can be the most important thing. What interests me is how creative you can get with the pitches. Sure, you can get creative with novel pitches, but not like the examples Synder lists. Synder and his writing partner sold a movie with a unique approach. They sent kids to executive’s with backpacks full of fake money and the pitch to help visualize the story. He mentions many other examples of how writers get executives in the mood to hear their story. Sometimes it doesn’t work, but it’s still a fun and interesting approach to marketing. As someone who works in advertising, these out-of-the-box ideas are exciting. 

Did reading this book give me hope that someday I could write a screenplay? A bit. I still have a lot to learn before I can cross that off my bucket list. Have you ever written a screenplay? How was the process different from novel writing in your eyes? If you haven’t, what kind of screenplay would you like to write? Let me know in the comments below. Thanks so much for reading, and happy writing!

Researching as a Writer

Writing a story involves a lot of steps. That’s stating the obvious to any writer who’s ever gotten a story idea. With things like world building, writers spend immense time on stories before the storytelling begins. Character design? With the character sheets out there, who knows how long that could take. Depending on the story and writer, one of these time-consuming steps is research. 

Research is the bane of some people’s existence. There are those who write and then decide to go back and research later to confirm. I am not one of those people. As you’ve most likely gathered from my previous posts, I am a fan of research. In fact, I find myself journeying down research rabbit holes instead of writing.  I can sit down for an hour of writing and spend thirty minutes of that time researching historical facts. 

During my trips down the research path, I’ve learned some very random and strange facts. Many of these things I have found through the glory of writing boards on Pinterest or the land of Google. If you’ve ever befriended a writer, they will tell you that the research is only for storytelling. And remind you often. This is not to concern you, only to make you less freaked when you check out their Pinterest. I’ve had friends ask me what I was up to because I kept pinning stuff about gunshot wounds and fighting tactics. Now they know not to ask questions because I’ve taken to pinning these oddities to my writing board.

Researching leaves you with information that’s useless outside of writing and trivia games. As someone who loves learning, I get excited when I have the opportunity to tell someone one of these facts. Is someone curious about ways to find out if someone’s lying via body language, I have a few suggestions. You never know, your research may pay off in the real world too.

What is something interesting you’ve learned while researching for a story? Do you like to research before or after you finish a rough draft? Let me know in the comments below! I’m excited to learn about other people’s process during this stage. Thanks for reading everyone, and happy writing!

Rejuvenating with Writing

 It wouldn’t be an understatement to say that things have been a bit rough for a lot of people recently.  We’re all grasping at straws to find some hint of what used to be normal, while trying to grow and change at the same time. On the whole, it can get a bit exhausting. Sometimes you have to take a break from the glaring reality flashing in your face. Whether it’s gardening, Zoom calling your friends, or reading a book, you need something to rejuvenate your spirit. To keep you on the path towards a brighter future.

For the longest time, the only thing that fell into this category for me was reading. Then music joined the mix, but it’s a bit difficult to quietly practice a clarinet in an apartment complex. Especially when everyone is at home to hear your cringey attempts at relearning scales. Reading has been a comfort to me, but I’ve also found that writing has joined the ranks as well. When I write, that is. Writing can ebb and flow in my life to extreme degrees. So, when it is in my grasp, I snatch it up like a child catching a lightning bug. Cupped firmly-but delicately- in two hands, to see the glow of inspiration between fingers. 

Writing this blog has been a mixed bag for me right now. Some days, I can feel the ideas for future content flowing from me. But only when I’m in a location where writing said ideas down is an impossibility. Most days it feels like a chore, but one that I enjoy doing once I’m in the middle of it. I’m sure you have something in your life like that right now. 

But the nice thing about writing right now, despite my lack of inspiration, is time. Time to focus on research rabbit holes about 1920s archaeologists, or invent an underground network of spies. If you feel stuck in the rejuvenating hobby, try a new strategy. For me, this new strategy is research or character sheets. I can pull myself into parts of writing that normally won’t cross my mind until I’m in the thick of a writing session. Researching might not add words to the page, but it can add ideas to my mind that I can pluck out later when I’m stuck. Designing a new character might put their words on the page in a new way. It’s also a great way to learn about how your characters will interact differently with each of the characters in your novel.  

If you’re like me, staring at your lack of life progress in frustration, take time to rejuvenate. If you feel stuck, try that new strategy. Take a new look at another piece of it that will help the big picture. Rabbit holes of researching or learning about writing are some ways that I’ve kept my big picture. How will you help yours? What are you doing, or are wishing that you could do, to reignite your spirit? Let me know in the comments below. Stay safe out there everyone, and happy writing. 

 

6 Tips for Naming a Character

There are many things to figure out when creating a story. Where does it take place? What’s going on? Why are your characters involved? One of the most important aspects to figure out is something that can be deceivingly difficult; your character’s names. Naming a character can be a walk in the park for some, but others can struggle to find that perfect name. Even when you find a good name, it might be up in the air. It might not work for them later on in the story, and then you’re back to square one. When faced with the character-naming struggle, there are a few ways you can find the perfect name. Here are a few tips to help get you on the right path.

1.  Consult the Census

If you are writing a historical novel, or even one that takes place in our modern world, the census is a great asset. This is especially true if you are in the United States and your story takes place in the US as well. First, figure out when your story is taking place. Then, look up “census names for” and then the year or decade of the story. Try to focus on the top 100 or top 150 names when considering your options. This gives you a lot of options, and allows you to use a more unique name if you want. It can also be fun to switch it up a little! If you’re writing a fantasy novel, it might be fun to name your characters names from the 1920s or 1800s. Keep your mind open. You never know what you’ll find!

2.  Graveyards 

This option is a bit creepy, but many authors have used this tactic to name their characters. If you are visiting or live in a city with old graveyards, it’s a huge bonus. Take a notebook with you and write  down names that you find interesting. Write down first and last names so that you can mix and match when you get home. You might find a great name for a character among many tombstones. This option is great for any novel, not only historic ones. If you do this, there are of course a few rules. Most important, be respectful. Don’t write down the name of someone who’s family is in the cemetery with you. Also, only visit when the cemetery is open and you are able to go inside. As long as you follow these rules, this is a great option to get those creative juices flowing. 

3. Baby Name Sites

This a more obvious option, but still a great way to find a name for your character. You can search baby names by region, time-period, origin, and meaning.  If you’ve already figured out some attributes of your character, try searching names with meanings that match. Or, you can name your character a name that represents who they will become by the end of the story. Baby name sites are also great because they have an endless list of names that can expand your horizons. If you want your character to have an E name but you’re avoiding Emily or Edward, these sites will give you some great options. They also have names by region and origin, which you can use to find names that match your character’s family background or location. 

4. Shakespeare…and other historical texts

He’s back on my blog already! This might not be ideal for all genres, but Shakespeare is a great resource for character names. His plays have interesting names and names that are common even today. You can edit these names to fit in a modern setting, such as a character named Titania who goes by Nia. Many of these names also work in a fantasy setting. After all, Hermione from Harry Potter got her name from Shakespeare! You can also check out classics novels and mythology for name inspiration. 

5. Name Generators

When all else fails, these are a great inspiration for character names.  There are generators that spit out completely random names. They’re both fun and helpful for characters in our world. There are also generators where you can narrow down the name options by many factors. Either way, you should get many name ideas from this option. As you go, write down the names that the generator recommends to you. Then you can go back to these options later and choose between them. You can also get inspiration for other characters in the future! There are so many generators to choose from, but I found Name-Generator.org.uk has some good options. You can check them out here

6. Family Tree

This might seem a bit weird, but it’s a great way to find names. If your story takes places in the 1930s, consult your family tree (if you have one) for the time that your characters were born. So if your characters are in their 20s in the 1930s, look at your family tree for peopl born in the 1910s. If you have the information available to you, looking at names on both sides of your family is a great way to come up with a unique name. For one of my stories, I named a character after the first name of my great-great paternal grandmother. Her last name was from my maternal great-grandmother’s side of the family. This is also a great way to get to know your family better while you’re writing a story! Or find some wacky names in your family history. 

Have you ever tried these tactics to name your characters? What is your favorite way to find names for your characters? Let me know in the comments below! If you’ve found a way to name your characters that I haven’t mentioned, leave a comment. I’m always looking for new ways to approach the writing process! I hope this post has helped you jump start your character-naming process. Thanks so much for reading and happy writing!

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.