Harry Potter Plan Update #4

As I explained the other day, I was absent from blogging for a lot of this week, but my Harry Potter rereadathon is still going on. I missed last Saturday’s and last Tuesday’s post, but I was still reading. At this point, I’m almost done with Prisoner of Azkaban, but I started writing this post earlier this week when I was 11 chapters into it. Thus my next few posts are going to be a bit behind where I actually am in my reading, though I’ll be writing the posts as I go along and just scheduling them for the future (I figured no one wants to read 5 days in a row of Harry Potter posts, so I’m going to keep going with the Tuesday/Saturday schedule). Anyway, let’s begin.

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Romione

I have always prided myself on being a Romione shipper. Ron and Hermione always seemed so good together when I was a kid, and it was adorable to me that these two best friends grew up to get married (I also liked that Hermione didn’t end up with Harry. I thought it was too cliché to have the main female character and the main male character end up together in the end). Upon rereading Prisoner of Azkaban though, I’m actually starting to question whether or not I like the Romione ship as much as I originally thought. This is the first book in the series where you start to see some tension between Ron and Hermione, and it’s that tension that continues on throughout the series and ultimately leads to them getting together in the end. While I used to think that was a good thing (“They’re not perfect together, so they have a real relationship! They have different personalities, but still love each other and make it work!”), I’m not so sure now.

Part of it, I think, is that I’ve grown up a bit since I last read the books, and have had some more experience with different life things, including relationships. In high school, I was friends with this guy I’d known forever. We were really close: we hung out all the time, told each other all sorts of personal things, were each other’s go-to dates for things when we had no one else to go with. And while there was a time or two when I considered him as something more than a friend, I kind of knew it wouldn’t work out: for as close as we were, he’d said some incredibly hurtful things to me before, or he’d mock my interests or quirks in my personality. They were things I could forgive as a friend, especially because some of the things he said, he said when we were really young, and it’s understandable that a 14-16 year old boy is going to say dumb, mean things sometimes without realizing it. But they were still hurtful, and some of the things were things I know I couldn’t get past if I were to ever be involved with him romantically, which is why it would never happen. I’ve noticed a lot of little things like that while reading Prisoner of Azkaban: Ron makes fun of Hermione’s work ethic and her classes, and is constantly berating her for liking Crookshanks, and she clearly gets upset by a lot of his comments. To me, a lot of these comments and Hermione’s reactions remind me of the friendship I had with this guy in high school; only while Romione ends up together, I know I could never date this guy because of the things he’s said. I guess I’ll have to continue to reevaluate whether or not I ship Ron and Hermione as I continue the series.

(And for what it’s worth, I’m not trashing Ron here either; I still love him as a character. He’s 13 in this book: yeah, he’s going to make sarcastic comments about his friends, especially his female friends. I’m just saying, it’s the kind of thing that doesn’t always make for a solid foundation for an adult relationship).

Snape

I have never been a fan of Snape, but I like him even less than I thought possible right now. Like, he was totally cool with poisoning Neville’s toad? Why do you want to traumatize the kid? Also, even if there was a decent explanation for that, what did the toad do to deserve being poisoned?

Another thing, I remember him asking the kids to study werewolves and all that from the movie, but I read that part recently, and he even asked them to write an essay about how to kill them????? Like, Snape wanted Lupin to come back from his leave of absence, when he’s totally drained of energy after the full moon and worried because he’s trying to hide this condition that puts him on the fringes of society, and read these essays about how to kill him? WHY? That is so awful and a new low. Sure, Snape doesn’t like Lupin, but no one deserves to be treated like that.

Sirius and Lupin

I don’t really have much to say about the two of them (at least, I don’t have much to say that is coherent and rational), so all I’ll say is that this book is making my heart hurt. I am having a lot of feelings about the Marauders and Sirius and Lupin and what they must have been like as kids at Hogwarts. I read that part where McGonagall and Hagrid and Fudge discuss Sirius in the Three Broomsticks, and I wanted to cry, just because of the fact that they all thought so badly of him, even though I understand why they do. And every interaction between Lupin and Harry…I keep thinking about an alternate universe where Remus is Harry’s favorite uncle and they hang out all the time because James and Lily always have Remus over for dinner and he just sits and talks with Harry about school and cool Defense Against the Dark Arts stuff that he’s learned. Just…ugh. I am sad.

Anyway, that will be all for today. PoA is probably my favorite book in the series, and I have lots more to say about it, but I’ll wait until my Tuesday post when I’m done with the book to explain the rest of my thoughts and feelings. For now, let me know what you think! Do you ship Ron and Hermione? Do you actually like Snape? Am I the only one who wants to marry Remus Lupin?

 

 

Tea Recommendations

I am a huge lover of tea. I make myself a mug every single morning, and often have another cup in the afternoon if I’m reading or working on homework. It’s my biggest complaint about college dining halls: all too often they run out of hot water in the morning or they don’t have a good selection of tea, and I can’t enjoy my breakfast properly.

Since nothing goes together quite like a hot cup of tea and a good book, and I’m primarily a book blog, I thought I would look at a few teas I’ve tried recently, and offer my opinion on them.

Choice Organic Decaf English Breakfast Tea

They have this tea in the dining hall at my college, so I’ve tried it a few times. It’s not my tea2favorite black tea, I think I like caffeinated Lipton better, because that’s my usual go-to in college, but it does the job. It’s slightly more bitter than the Lipton variety, but overall not too bad, and I can still drink it without the need for cream or sugar (that’s also partly because the flavor is just slightly less strong than the Lipton tea, even if it is more bitter). Overall, I really like this variety, especially for a tea in a college dining hall.

Tazo Vanilla Caramel Chai Tea

teaI bought this tea a couple weeks ago, and was ultimately disappointed by it. I love a good chai tea, and I love vanilla caramel as a flavoring in coffee, so I was hoping this would be a good blend of those two. Ultimately, the effect was underwhelming. I felt like I could barely taste the chai flavoring or the vanilla caramel flavoring, and when I did taste each, they weren’t blended together smoothly. I’d only be able to taste them separately, which was a bit strange, and both flavors were so weak, I was tasting mostly hot water half the time (even when I tried putting two tea bags in to soak). While it didn’t necessarily taste bad, the three times I tried this tea, I couldn’t finish my cup, because the hot water taste and weird blend of flavors just got to be too much by the end. The best part about this tea was its smell: when you open a box or just smell one of the tea bags, there is a lovely mix of smells from the spices in the chai, the vanilla, and the caramel.

Twinnings Green Tea

This has been my go-to tea every morning since I got home from college. It’s one of the tea1more bitter flavored green teas I’ve tried, but nevertheless, once I got used to it, I fell in love with it. It goes really well with a sweeter breakfast, like cereal, but it’s perfect to drink on its own too. If you’re not a fan of bitter tea, or if you’ve never tried green tea, I might avoid this variety to begin with; but if you’ve had green tea before and liked it, I’d say this is a pretty safe bet.

Anyway, I decided I’d stick with only three teas today, but I might do a post like this again in the future! It won’t become a regular thing, because I don’t try that many varieties of tea that often, but I’ve definitely tried more than three, so I’ll create one or two similar posts in the future when I have a chance to ponder the flavors of some other varieties (it is surprisingly difficult to describe taste). In the meantime, if you have tea recommendations, I am always open to hearing them!

Mediums I Like to Write On

Hello again, an apologies for my sort-of absence the last couple of days. I went to a wedding this weekend, a not-so-enjoyable one at that, and they served this terrible food there. It was some dry chicken dish covered in what was supposed to be a fancy sauce, except the sauce was literally just the sauce from the $1 can of Chicken a la King my mom used to dump over a piece of toast for me when I came home from a school activity at like 9 p.m. in high school. And apparently this food was also bad in ways beyond taste, because I then found myself vomiting up my morning tea the next day, and for as much as I love tea, it does not taste very good coming back up or spilling out of your nose. So…I’ve been gone for a couple days.

But anyway, you likely did not want all of that information, so now that you’re all sufficiently grossed out, I’ll just be moving on now, getting into to what this post is actually about: It’s Writing Wednesday. Today, I thought I’d do a sort of discussion post/a breakdown of the mediums on which I like to write, and what I use them for. I have a couple different ways I like to write, but I always like to hear about new word processors and other resources that help other writers. Without further ado, here we go:

WritingWednesday

Microsoft Word

This has got to be a staple for most writers. We’ve all used it at some point; it’s a classic, even if you only wrote your essays in middle school in Word (which was how I was introduced to it). In terms of my writing now, Word has got to be my favorite platform for writing novels. Granted, I’ve never written more than a first draft, so I can’t say how useful it would be in the editing stages of a novel (it actually seems like it would be a bit tedious or difficult to edit in Word, but I don’t know), but for a first draft, it does the job well. It’s simple and easy to use, and when you’re trying to focus on nothing but the story and getting it on paper, that’s really all you need.

Google Documents

Oh, Google Docs. The unloved twin of Microsoft Word. I use Google Docs for school assignments all the time, just because it’s always been attached to my school email accounts and it’s easy to keep everything for all my classes in one place (and not take up so much memory saving Word documents to my computer). And, it does also have some advantages, like the fact that it’s online, so I can get to my stuff from any computer and not just my laptop (or a flashdrive that I’ll probably lose), and that it makes it very easy to be collaborative. So, I shouldn’t trash the program completely. It’s just never been a very good resource for me when it comes to novel writing. I find that when you start writing more than 15-20 pages on a single document, Google has a hard time loading it, and the couple times I’ve gotten to 40-50 pages on a single document, it becomes almost impossible to load it and I just have to start a new document, even if I’m working on the same story, and that makes it hard to stay organized. Additionally, it doesn’t always keep an accurate word count, which can be very annoying when it comes to NaNoWriMo. I’ve found that for every 10,000 words I write, Google Docs is usually off by 10 or so words, while Microsoft Word is usually only off by 2 or 3, if that.

Docs just doesn’t seem conducive to long form writing in my experience. At this point, I only use it as a way to back up my work, by copying parts of my novel from Word into a Google Doc every so often in case something were to ever happen to my laptop.

Scrivener by Literature and Latte

For anyone who’s never heard of it, Scrivener is a downloadable app for laptops (both Mac and Windows) by a company called Literature and Latte. It costs about $40 in U.S. dollars, but you can often get discounts on it if you win NaNoWriMo and get a special code.

Basically, the program is supposed to be a novel writers dream. It lets you plan out your novel, writing it in sections, gives you space in a single document for character or setting profiles…basically, it’s supposed to let you plot out everything for your story and keep it in one place as you write. I bought it a couple years ago, and honestly, I like it, but I don’t like it enough to make it my first-choice for writing software. I like the simplicity of Word, and Scrivener just has so much going on. I did the tutorial for it when I downloaded it a few years ago, and there was so much in there, I wasn’t able to keep track of everything, and I still don’t understand all the features. At this point, I do use it for planning and outlining novels sometimes, because it does have great resources for that, but I’ve never been able to sit and write a whole novel in it. I imagine all the organization tools might make it a good place to revise a novel or work on a second draft, but I’ve never done that before, so I honestly have no clue how that would go in practice.

Handwriting

God bless anyone that can handwrite a novel, because I don’t know how you do it (BUT YOU EXIST. I’VE SEEN YOU ON THE NANO SITE). Like, mad props to you. The only time I’ve ever even attempted that was in about 4th or 5th grade before I had a computer, and I certainly did not get very far. Handwriting, for me, is something that I only do on a few occasions: school assignments that have to be handwritten, writing letters, journaling, note-taking, or outlining a character or setting or something when I don’t have a computer handy. That’s about it. I could never do it for a novel, and I’m also shocked at people who can.

Anyway, that’s in for today’s Writing Wednesday, but let me know your thoughts on any of these methods of writing, and whether or not you know of any I haven’t tried! I’m not super attached to any of my methods, and am always on the look out for new writing software.

The Personality Book Tag

I saw this tag on one of the book blogs I follow, Thrice Read, a week or two ago, and I thought it looked super cool. I wasn’t tagged in it, but, you know, this is my blog and I’ll do whatever I feel like here. I’ve never been super into psychology (and I’ve heard Myer-Briggs isn’t the most reliable/accurate thing ever), but I’ve always found MBTI personality tests to be really interesting, so I figured I’d do it.

If you are also interested in doing this tag or just want to know your personality type, you can take the MBTI test for free over at Sixteen Personalities.

Anyway, onto the tag!

What is your MBTI personality type?

I am an INTJ (more specifically, an INTJ-T), so that means I’ve got the Introverted, Intuitive, Thinking, and Judging traits, and am considered “The Architect.” Here are my specific results below.

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What is your personality like?

The first sentence of the Sixteen Personalities overview for INTJ’s is that they’re often called “bookworms” so that was a good way to start off, and I’d definitely agree. INTJ’s are also characterized as intelligent and confident in what they know (though sometimes overly-confident). They are incredibly rational, but are still somewhat idealists: they think anything is possible with enough effort and intelligence.

INTJ’s are very reserved and don’t do well with small talk or trivial conversation, so they have a hard time getting to know people, but can be quite talkative if they are talking to someone they respect or about a subject they are interested in/knowledgeable about. They are strategic and analytical, but also value truth, intelligence, and a desire to improve.

This seems a bit Slytherin-y to me, so I guess I’d have to agree.

If you were a character in a book, what would be some of your character strengths and flaws?

Strengths: Of the INTJ strengths listed on the Sixteen Personalities site, I’d agree that I’m imaginative, strategic, independent, hard-working, and open-minded, all of which would help me out if I were a book character. I’d be good at coming up with solutions to problems and thinking things through, while also working hard to get things done. I’d be the rational one in a group, keeping everyone else on track when tensions or emotions start running high.

Flaws: Of the weaknesses listed on the site, I’d agree that I can be arrogant, overly-analytical, clueless in romance, and have a hatred for highly-structured environments. As a book character, I know the romance thing would definitely be an issue (there is no way I could be the MC in a romance novel, or even a book with a romantic sub-plot. TBH I’m lucky to have found a boyfriend in real life), but I think the overly-analytical thing and possibly the arrogance could be an issue too. I’m not always arrogant, but in a specific situation where I overestimate myself, it could be my downfall in a novel, and the overly-analytical thing could prevent me from getting a task done when I really need to.

Do any authors share your personality type?

A quick Google search has informed me that Jane Austen, Isaac Asimov, and C.S. Lewis were all INTJ’s. Google also told me Tolkein was an INTJ, but I’ve heard him classified under other personality types so I’m not sure that’s 100% true. Either way, I love Jane Austen and C.S. Lewis, so that’s pretty cool that we all have this in common (I’ve never read any Asimov, though I’ve heard good things).

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What fictional characters share your personality type?

If we’re talking strictly literature, another quick Google search has informed me that Severus Snape is an INTJ, along with both Sherlock and Moriarty in the Arthur Conan Doyle books, and Gandalf in LotR. Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice is also an INTJ (which I guess makes sense because of the Jane Austen thing), along with Rhysand and Lucien from A Court of Thorns and Roses (I’ve never read that series so I have no idea who these characters are, but I know it’s a popular book so I thought I’d throw them in here).

If we’re talking non-literature characters, Batman is an INTJ, along with Michael Corleone from The Godfather movie (although I guess that’s also a book…), and Walter White from Breaking Bad.

I’m seeing a bit of a theme here in the types of characters that are portrayed as INTJ’s, and they seem to be characters who are both good and bad, or those who do bad things with good intentions–a sort of “the ends justify the means” thing. I’m not so sure it’s a good thing to be compared to them, because I don’t necessarily see myself like that, but at the very least, these characters are, in my opinion, some of the most complex/interesting to have been written about or portrayed on screen, so that’s kind of cool.

If you were a character in a book, what job would you have?

The Sixteen Personalities site says an INTJ personality would probably get along well in a job where they can work on their own and apply strategic thinking skills to different challenges. It recommended something like mechanical engineering, military or marketing strategy, or being a lawyer (three jobs I really don’t see myself having).

However, based on that, I suppose I could see myself being like a wizard or some sort of magical consultant in a fantasy novel. I’d be the person that the main characters are looking for early on in their quest to ask for guidance or for advice on their journey, and when they find me, I’d be able to whip them up some sort of potion or provide them with a detailed map of where they need to go, depending on what they needed from me. I’d probably be quite good at it, and also, it would just be cool to be a wizard.

What personality type would complete your OTP?

According to the Sixteen Personalities page, I’d do well in a romantic relationship with anyone who also shares my Intuition trait, but has a couple of opposite traits from me in other areas, in order to balance me out. The two personality types I’d be most compatible with are ENFP or ENTP.

Who are some fictional characters that would complete your OTP?

I was having a hard time picking one character that I think I would be compatible with, especially because most of my crushes on fictional characters are on guys I don’t actually think I’d be compatible with. Thus, I took to Google for this question and looked up ENFP and ENTP characters, because those were the personality types recommended to me. Some of the characters that were listed: Jem from To Kill a Mockingbird, Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes, Ron Weasley, Peter Pan (all ENFP’s), Fred and George Weasley, Sirius Black, and Holden Caulfield from Catcher in the Rye (all ENTP’s).

Out of all those characters, there are a few I would not ship myself with at all (like Holden or Jem), and some I don’t know enough about as adults to tell whether I’d get along well with them (like Calvin or Peter Pan). Thus, I’d have to say my OTP would be one of the Weasley boys. Probably George if I had to pick just one. I think he’d balance me out and make me a better person, but that we’d have enough in common to get along, and also, he’s pretty cute (both in the movies and in my head).

weasleytwins

Anyway, I had a ton of fun doing this tag! I spent far too much time analyzing myself and my answers to some of these questions, but I suppose that makes sense given my results.

Anyone is free to do this tag, but since I feel like I should tag some people, I tag Lia, Bella, and Rose (no pressure if you don’t want to do it though, it’s really up to you. I enjoy reading your blogs and thought you might like this tag).

What are your thoughts? Have you done and MBTI test before?

“Currently Into” Monthly Roundup: May 2017

If you’ve never checked it out, I have a page on this site called “Currently Into…” where I post the things I’m currently reading, writing, watching, or listening to. I update the page on the 1st, 11th, and 21st of every month, letting you know what’s new with me.

Because I change the page so frequently, but also know people might be interested in what I was doing earlier on in a particular month, I post a round-up of everything that was on it over the course of the last month. Since today marks the beginning of June, here’s the round-up for May.

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Reading

Early May: Attachments by Rainbow Rowell and The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George

I finished Attachments finally, which I began in April, and I thought it was pretty good. I gave it a 4 star review, which you can read here. I then started George’s novel, but did not finish it until later in the month, which I discuss below.

Mid May: The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George

I finally trudged my way through this novel. It turned out to be a lot slower than I expected, so it took me a lot longer than I expected to finish it. I ended up not being a huge fan of this book, and found it a little boring, but I gave it 3 stars. You can read why in my review here.

Late May: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling

I kicked off my Harry Potter re-readathon late this month. I post updates about it every Tuesday and Saturday, so if you’re interested in those, just scroll through and you’re bound to see them. I am very much enjoying my journey back to Hogwarts so far.

Writing

Early May: I wrote nothing. Except this blog.

Mid May: I wrote nothing. Except this blog. And two huge journalism finals. I am now the proud author of a 3k article about bees.

Late May: I wrote nothing. Except this blog. (*Sigh* Yes, I am terrible, and my Camp NaNo novel deserves better. Maybe June will be better).

TV Shows

Early May: I watched more of Narcos, and almost finished it. For a show that I was reluctant to watch in the first place, I loved it. The storyline is intense and super interesting. I loved that it’s based on real events too, because that just made it even more intriguing to me. The main actor also reminded me a bit of Ryan Gosling in The Nice Guys, which is a nice bonus.

I also watched the entirety of a documentary series on Netflix called Hot Girls Wanted: Turned On, which talks about the impact that technology has had on the dating world and sex. It was a pretty interesting show, but most of the interest that I had in it came from laughing at all the shallow people they interviewed. I saw maybe only a couple level-headed people featured on the whole show, which is a bit sad, but also kind of funny.

The last show I watched is Rick and Morty, of which I almost finished the second season.  I love the show and can’t wait to keep watching. I think it’s my favorite cartoon that I’ve ever seen.

Mid May: I accidentally got into The Great British Baking Show. I was in a bad mood on a Saturday and wanted to distract myself with something mindless on TV, so I turned it on, and needless to say, not only did it improve my mood that day, but I was also hooked (and still am). I think it’s my favorite cooking show, and also my favorite competition show that I’ve ever seen. I watched an entire season during the week of finals, and will probably keep binge-watching it this summer.

I also watched a couple episodes of the first seasons of How I Met Your Mother and another show called Blue Mountain State, but didn’t continue into them. I watched them pretty much only because my boyfriend turned them on, and while I enjoyed them both, I was hesitant about watching HIMYM because I’ve heard that the ending of the show is pretty awful, Blue Mountain State has kind of a crude humor to it. I like it, but I’m not sure if I’d get tired of it after watching a couple more episodes.

Late May: My dad introduced me to a show called Mysteries at the Museum on the Travel channel though, which is surprisingly cool from a historical standpoint. They talk about different artifacts in museums and the stories behind them. I did not watch any other shows since coming home from college though.

Music

Early May: I was in a music rut this part of the month. I listened to jazz though, because it’s the only music I can listen to while I read. The playlist “Calm Jazz” on Spotify was my go-to for this.

Mid May: I discovered a couple different artists to listen to after randomly clicking around on Spotify to see what my friends were listening to. I found a band called AJR that I’d never heard, and while I’m not really into their type of music, they had one song, called Buy You A Rose that I really liked. I also discovered a singer called Caro Emerald, who sings like, modern-jazzy songs. She’s actually pretty good, but I think that’s just the fact that I had been listening to regular jazz so much. Neither of them were new favorite artists of mine or anything, but they were something new to listen to.

Late May: I did not find any new music to listen to, but I got on an Ed Sheeran kick and have pretty much been listened to his albums on repeat, as I tend to do every couple months. It’s just so hard to get tired on his music when it’s SO GOOD. I also listened to some Twenty One Pilots, mainly my favorite songs by them.

Movies

Early May: I saw a movie on Netflix called Midnight Meat Train starring Bradley Cooper. It was a slasher/horror kind of movie, and based on the premise (a photographer becomes suspicious that a man is murdering people on the subway at night and wants to catch him), I was super excited to watch this movie in comparison to the other horror movies I watch with my boyfriend. And the movie was actually pretty good…up until the end. I don’t want to post spoilers, but let’s just say I thought it was going one way, and if it had gone the way I thought it was, I would have thought it was a pretty great movie. But it didn’t. It got weird and the end ruined this whole set-up they could have had for an awesome ending.

Mid May: The only movie I watched was Scream, which apparently is bad, because everyone I know was shocked I hadn’t seen it before. I did thoroughly enjoy it though, and I’m not usually one for horror movies. I thought it was suspenseful and interesting right from the beginning, and even though it got a little gory at times, I liked the mystery and the general plot of the movie. Though I think I’m going to be a lot more scared of people in the Scream masks come Halloween this year. If you, too, have never seen it, I would highly recommend it.

Late May: I saw Snatched in theaters, which was the new Amy Schumer/Goldie Hawn movie that came out. I’m not a huge fan of Schumer, so I wasn’t necessarily looking forward to seeing the movie in the first place, and I didn’t end up enjoying it either. The story basically followed Schumer’s character and her mom, played by Hawn, as they get kidnapped while on vacation in South America. There’s a lot of them wandering through the rainforest while making bad jokes. It’s not a movie I’d really recommend to watch at all, but if you’re determined to see it, at least save yourself the money and wait until it’s out on DVD or Netflix.

Creating Characters

WritingWednesday

As a kid, I had a slew of imaginary friends. There was Toby, who was a bit of a jerk and quite mischievous, until he fell out of our car window while on the highway and moved to Texas. Following Toby, there was Toad, who lived in the forest behind my house and always wore a green Hawaiin shirt. Toad led to others, like Mandy, who had 15 siblings, all with detailed personalities of their own.

Eventually, I grew out of the imaginary friends stage, at least in terms of talking to them and acting like they were real people. I still had people I created in my head sometimes though, people that I interacted with in little fantasies whenever I was daydreaming. Sometimes it was an imaginary brother or cousin, and I’d think about what they’d be like and how we would interact if they existed. Sometimes it was something really far-fetched: I’d daydream about what it would be like to be famous, and then imagine a whole cast of imaginary people I’d know if I were, whether they were other stars or personal stylists or agents. These people were sometimes based on real celebrities, other times entirely fictional.

It was a couple years ago, I was working on a story, that I needed a character in one of my novels. My main character was getting a new neighbor, and the new character in question needed to seem innocent and unimportant at first, but reveal a secret crucial to the plot later on. I had no idea what kind of personality would work best for this character, until it randomly occurred to me: one of my imaginary celebrity characters I’d created in a daydream would be perfect for the role. So, I threw her into my plot, simply adding a dark secret to her backstory and making her not famous, but keeping all other aspects of her personality the same. And honestly, she became one of my favorite characters to write about in that story. She seemed to come alive off the page, and I knew how she would react in almost any situation I put her into, because I had spent so long developing her as a character in my daydreams.

Since then, this has become one of my favorite ways to create characters. I’ve heard of other writers saying they “talk” to their characters in their heads before, but I don’t really consider this the same thing. Once I insert a character into a story, I find it hard to have “conversations” with them in my head, or even to visualize them outside of said story. Instead, I just create people in my daydreams, and I imagine how they would fit into my own life. I can have conversations with them about things going on with me, or imagine them in scenarios in my everyday life. They come alive in my head this way, not really as characters, just as imaginary people. But then, when I do happen to need a character in a story, I’ve got a whole stockpile of them already in my head, waiting and ready to go. Of course, I sometimes need to give them a newfound magic power or tailor the character a little to fit the story, but for the most part, they retain their basic personality and skills and qualities. I know exactly how they’ll react to different things, and how they’ll get along with other character in my story, because I’ve already done all that development in my head.

Reading this all over, I realize I probably sound like a lunatic who walks around talking to fake people all day, but I promise I’m not. This is just a variation on that “talk to and get to know your characters thing” that you hear from writers sometimes. And if anyone else does this too, I’d love to know, because I would feel even less crazy then. Character development, man. It can be such a process.

Harry Potter Plan Update #3

You know you’ve been reading too much Harry Potter the last two days when you’re watching the history channel, and they’re discussing some guy who couldn’t unlock a door during some secret military operation, and you’re like “why didn’t he just use magic to open it?” before you remember that they’re discussing Real Life things and not a fantasy world J.K. Rowling created for children.

Anyway, I’m 11 chapters into Chamber of Secrets right now. I spent most of my weekend reading it and drinking way too much tea, so I’m hoping to finish it up soon (although I will also be very sad to finish it, because, as with the first book, the illustrated edition is AMAZING and I don’t want to go back to reading the boring, non-illustrated copies for books 3-7).

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Without further ado though, I’ll get right into some of my thoughts, structuring this post similarly to the last one.

Gilderoy Lockhart

Let’s start with the true star of this book, Lockhart. Now, the last time I read the HP books was 5 or 6 years ago, but the last time I watched all the movies was about 2 years ago, so for the couple years, when I’ve thought back on the series, I typically have been picturing the movies and not the books. In the movies, Lockhart’s conceitedness makes him kind of unbearable, and I found him to be a mostly annoying character, so that’s been the image of him that I’ve had in my head. WELL. That opinion has now changed, having gone back to the books.

This man is just…wonderful. As a character, as a comical device throughout the story, as everything. He’s still conceited beyond measure and so utterly ridiculous as a person, but while it’s annoying in the movies, in the book it’s just funny. I can’t believe I didn’t see it as a kid. I remember chuckling at a couple parts back then, mostly when he lost his memory, but honestly, I’m not even looking forward to that part of the book anymore. I’m cracking up at every scene that Lockhart is in now. He’s just over-the-top, incredibly oblivious, and so, so full of himself; he’s such a fun character to read about (and probably to have written about, too). I want a whole separate story from Rowling about his life now: there doesn’t even have to be any plot, I just want a story that follows everything he does for like 3 days, just to see how ridiculous it is.

Also, though, speaking of the movies, have you ever Googled Gilderoy Lockhart? And looked at some of the pictures that come up? I did yesterday, and I have no idea why these exist, but they also amuse me to no end. Just look at them, please.

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This is so far the most unexpected part of this reread for me: I never thought I’d be singing praises about Gilderoy Lockhart. Yet, he is a delight (I’m tempted to say he’s my favorite DADA teacher in the series, but that would be an insult to Remus Lupin).

Ron’s Slugs

The part where Ron accidentally curses himself and starts throwing up slugs brought up a memory from ages and ages ago: I used to be terrified of throwing up slugs as a kid because of this scene. My mom read me the first few books when I was so young that I don’t think I like, fully realized that throwing up slugs is not a thing that just happens to normal people, and apparently no one corrected me, because I remember being afraid of it for a few years before I finally realized it’s impossible.

Book Ginny vs. Movie Ginny

I think everyone familiar with Harry Potter probably knows about the huge differences between Ginny’s character in the books compared to the movies. I was thinking about that, and I’m pretty much convinced whoever was in charge of characterizing Ginny in the movies only read like, the first 9 chapters of Chamber of Secrets, said “wow, Ginny is this quiet, passive girl who just obsesses over Harry all the time, she must be like this throughout the whole series” and then gave her that personality for the next 5 and a half books. I’ll be so relieved to get to some of my favorite Ginny Weasley moments later on in the series.

That’s about it for now. I have a couple more complaints about Dumbledore and his mysteriousness, but I think I’ll get to those in my post on Saturday. For now, I want to try to finish this book today!

 

 

 

Books About Soldiers

Happy Memorial Day, and thank you to all those who serve in the military/armed forces! In honor of the holiday, I thought I’d make a list of some of my favorite books about soldiers at war. I’ve never been that into books about war, just because I often can’t relate to the experiences of soldiers, but as I thought about this post, I realized I’ve actually read a lot more than I originally thought I had. With that, here’s just a few books I recommend if you’re interested in reading more about war and the sacrifices soldiers make.

The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien

I got this book as a high school graduation gift from a friend, and was told that “it’s a book anyone majoring in journalism should read.” I’m still not quite sure about that thingstheyclaim, but I did enjoy this book far more than I ever thought I would, because it is definitely not the type of thing I’d ever pick up on my own. The book is a blend of fiction and non-fiction, written as a series of related short stories that follow O’Brien and the other soldiers in his platoon during the Vietnam War. It reads a bit like a memoir, likely because many of the stories are at least partly autobiographical. I will say, the first chapter was a bit dry, and I almost didn’t continue with it, but after that, it picks up, and O’Brien’s writing style really comes through. This book is sad, poignant, graphic, and funny all at the same, and I really enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would. It’s also a great lesson in the art of storytelling, whether you’re going for fiction or non-fiction, or a blend of both (come to think of it, maybe that’s why my friend said all journalism majors should read it).

Crossing Stones by Helen Frost

I read this book ages ago, in middle school, so I may not be remembering all of it correctly, but I do remember loving it. I may have even read it twice. It follows the story of two neighboring families in Michigan during World War 1, told through the crossingperspectives of three characters in their late teens: Muriel, her best friend Emma, and Muriel’s brother, Ollie. The book is also written in verse, which actually made me like it even more, from what I remember. The structure was just really unique, and there was always something new to see in it. Now, from what I remember, most of this book focused on life at the home front, so it wasn’t exactly a book about soldiers at war, but the parts from Ollie’s perspective do detail his time on the war front. If anything, it was a quick read, and I liked Frost’s style a lot, so I’d recommend it for that.

Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

A staple of so many high school reading curriculums, if you haven’t read Slaughterhouse-slaughterhouseFive by now, you need to go pick it up right now. It was one of my favorite books I read in an English class, and that’s because it’s such a powerful, captivating story, with a little humor mixed in too, about a soldier who’s left empty after experiencing fire-bombing and being a prisoner of war in World War 2. In the book, the main character, Billy Pilgrim, relives much of his life as he becomes unstuck in time and encounters aliens from the planet Tralfamadore. As you might have guessed already, the plot of this book is a bit difficult to explain if you haven’t read it already, but it’s a good look into the effects of war on a soldier, and the aliens and time travel aspects make it an interesting read too. It’s not too long either, under 300 pages, making it a classic that’s actually pretty easy to get into and finish.

And that’s all for today, everybody. If you’re celebrating Memorial Day today, have fun at any barbeques or cookouts or pool parties or graduations you’re attending, but remember to think about the meaning of the holiday as well.

Harry Potter Plan Update #2

I’m crying. I don’t know why I’m crying, but I’m crying, because I’m just so happy Gryffindor won the House Cup at the end of Sorcerer’s Stone. Of course, I was expecting this,  I know this series like the back of my hand, but I’m just cheering for Neville right now for getting those extra 10 points for standing up to his friends and allowing Gryffindor to beat Slytherin, even if Slytherin is my house of choice.

If you can’t tell by this post yet, I finished Sorcerer’s Stone today, which means I’m making decent progress on my Harry Potter Plan. I’m going to be starting Chamber of Secrets as soon as I finish this post. Either way, I thought I’d update on some more of my thoughts, as I finished the first book. My thoughts are kind of random and all over the place, so I’m going to break this up into small sections.

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Neville

Okay, I love Neville. I love him so much, not just for the whole winning-Gryffindor-the-House-Cup thing, but also for so many reasons that occur later on in the series too. However, as I was reading SS today, I couldn’t help but wonder if I would hate Neville for trying to stop Harry, Ron, and Hermione from leaving to go save the stone, had I not read the series before. I feel like that’s a point in the novel, when the Golden Trio is going off to save the stone, where you’re rooting for them and rooting against anything in their way. I can’t help but feel like if I didn’t have so many reasons to love Neville, whether or not I would have gotten to that part and been like “ugh, this stupid character, why are you even trying to stop them? Mind your own business.” It makes me sad to think of myself not liking him, because he’s wonderful.

The Unicorn

This is random, but at the part with the slain unicorn in the forbidden forest, Ronan the centaur says something like “always the innocent are the first victims” when talking to Hagrid. He meant that it’s always the innocent who are the first victims in a war, and if you think about it, the slain unicorn is the first death we see in the series, not counting Lily and James. At the very least, it’s the first death when Voldemort comes back. Unicorns are a symbol of innocence, so J.K. clearly knew what was up by making that a big deal and including that line. I don’t know why I’m point this out, but it’s the first time I’ve ever noticed that.

Rowling’s Writing

Rowling should write mysteries. I was thinking about the story construction of Sorcerer’s Stone, and it’s written a lot like a mystery, in terms of Harry and his friends trying to figure out what’s in the trapdoor/who’s after the stone/how to get to the stone. It’s even got a twist ending, when you realize it was Quirrell who was the bad guy the whole time, not Snape. The story development in Sorcerer’s Stone would be a great model for a mystery if Rowling ever got into that genre. If I ever heard she was writing one, I’d buy it right away (then again, I’d buy anything Rowling writes, but I’d be especially excited if she wrote a mystery because I think it would be particularly good).

Illustrations

I’m still blown away at Jim Kay’s illustrations in this book. The one where Quirrell unwrapped his turban and you saw a part of Voldemort’s face peeking out sent chills down my spine.

Dumbledore’s Protection of the Stone

Okay, I’ve seen people say this on Tumblr before, but after rereading the book, I have to say it’s true. Dumbledore really needed to step up his game in protecting the stone if three 11-year-olds could get to it. Like, a giant chess game? Some deadly plants that first-years had apparently discussed in class? A simple logic puzzle with potions? Of course, with all the different challenges combined, I’m sure it had to be difficult, but most of it wasn’t deadly (unless the Fluffy or the troll got to you, or you drank the poison in the potion room), just a lot of effort. Come on, Albus. You coulda done better.

Anyway, that’s it for now! I’ll be updating again after I make my way through Chamber of Secrets a little more!

The Book Lover’s Tag

I was tagged to do the Book Lover’s Tag by Elfie1999 from Thoughts Explored the other day, so I thought I’d finally get around to it today. I figured it’s a good idea to let you all get to know me as a reader, since I do post an awful lot about reading and books on here.

Here’s the eleven questions and my answers.

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Do you have a specific place for reading?

No, not in particular. I most often read in my bed, or this cozy reading chair I have. However, I read in all sorts of places: libraries, my living room, outside classrooms, dining halls, coffee shops, other people’s houses…it really doesn’t matter as long as I’m sitting relatively comfortably and have a book with me.

Bookmarks, or random pieces of paper?

Random pieces of paper all the way on this one. Real, actual bookmarks just seem so clunky and unnecessarily big, so I’ve never been a huge fan. Plus, with the pretty ones, I don’t want to damage them, which often happens when I let the bookmark stick out of the top of the book. I like folded up post-it notes, old receipts (usually for the book I’m reading), or a ripped off corner of random paper better. I’ve used tissues (unused) and old hall passes before too. Lately though, I’ve been using something that actually resembles a bookmark: it’s a little card explaining what the herb bay leaf can be used for in recipes.

Can you just stop anywhere or must it be at the end of the chapter?

I don’t have to stop at the end of a chapter, but I prefer to, because it’s easy to go back to when I return. If that’s not possible, I try to find a natural break in the middle of a chapter: if an author puts those little stars in (***) I’ll stop there, or just find the ending of paragraph that seems to wrap up a particular thought.

Do you eat or drink while reading?

Not usually, unless I’m reading the news, because I always read the news with breakfast. With books though, food tends to be distracting, and while I often make myself a cup of tea or coffee to drink while I read, I find that I usually end up drinking it before actually reading. I’ll sit with the book closed on my lap, drink the whole cup, and then start reading, so I’m not sure that actually counts as doing both at the same time.

Music or TV while reading?

Never TV, because that’s far too distracting. I occasionally listen to music if I’m in a crowded place and the background noise of where I am is distracting me, but even then, I only listen to instrumental songs or jazz or orchestral music. Anything with lyrics starts to distract me from the book.

One book at a time or several?

Always one. I wish I could read more at a time, but whenever I try, that’s how I end up abandoning books that I mean to finish and never coming back to them. I’ll get so caught up in one of the books, I spend all my time on it, that the other one or two fall by the wayside and I forget about them, even if I was enjoying them. It’s easier for me to just read one and then finish it before moving on.

Do you prefer to read at home or elsewhere?

I’d say this depends. When I’m away at college, I usually prefer reading in a library or a coffee shop over my dorm room because I find it easier to focus, but when I’m at my house over summer/winter break, I prefer reading at home. My town’s library is a 15 minute drive away, so it’s a bit more hassle to get there than a 5 minute walk on campus (plus the hours suck. My college library is open 24 hours, so I can hang out there as late as I want, but the public library here closes around 8 on weekdays and 5 on weekends). When I’m in my hometown, there’s not many places I can go to read other than a library or coffee shop or my house, so I sort of prefer my house by default.

Read out loud or silently?

Definitely silently. I’m too self-conscious other people will hear me if I read out loud, plus it just feels strange if I’m in public or if my whole family is in my house or my roommate is in my dorm. Reading out loud is helpful for memorization though, so I’ve done it a few times with school books/Italian books when I was studying the language.

Do you read ahead or skip pages?

Never when reading for fun. I do it all the time with readings for school though.

Breaking the spine or keeping it like new?

I do my best to keep books looking new, but if and when the spine breaks, I try not to let it bother me. I just tell myself it makes the book look even more loved, even though they do look a lot nicer on my shelves when they’re all pristine.

Do you write in your books?

No. Again, I have for school before, but when I read for fun, I feel like I’m defacing them when I mark them up. If there’s a quote I want to remember, I write it down elsewhere.

Anyway, that’s it for this tag! I’m interested to know if I have similar reading habits to anyone else, so let me know in the comments!