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The New Magical Book Club for Potter Fans

It was the book series that enchanted a generation. With movies, memorabilia, several theme parks, and more, the wizarding world has been a phenomenon that grips the imagination and doesn’t let go. If you, like so many other “Potterheads,” have been looking for an excuse to read the books over again we have good news!  In honor of the twentieth anniversary of the publication of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Pottermore is hosting an official Wizarding World Book Club.

That’s right! You can read along with thousands of fans, new and old alike, and experience the magic all over.  Simply go to Pottermore.com and sign up.  From there, you can read along with your fellow witches and wizards from all over the world and participate in discussions about the books over twitter.  

The Experience So Far

The club is already underway, at about half-way through the first book.  Every week, themes and questions are posted on Pottermore for readers to explore. Live discussions then take place over Twitter @wwbookclub.  It has been such an amazing experience connecting with fans about this beloved series again.  Not only that, but each theme has articles and insights written by JK Rowling on their respective pages on Pottermore, which fill in some of the blanks and deepen our understanding of the wizarding world.

The only drawback to this, for me at least, has been the platform on which the discussions take place.  Twitter is not very conducive to lengthy debates or passionate ranting, both of which superfans are prone to doing.  Having to limit your very real and intense feelings about Harry Potter to only 140 characters is quite the challenge.  However, it has allowed for a large, diverse group of fans to all geek-out together and that, alone, has been magical.  

What’s to Come

The Wizarding World Book Club intends to continue reading each and every book in the series, providing more themes and insights for fans to explore together.  Starting in October, two new books about the Wizarding World will be released in tandem with the British Library’s Harry Potter Exhibition.  Harry Potter: A History of Magic – The Book of the Exhibition will explore subjects that were taught at Hogwarts, and Harry Potter – A Journey Through a History of Magic will explore many other elements of the HP universe.  Later in the fall, the illustrated version of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban will come out just in time for you to get it for the book club. It’s going to be a magical year!  


Are you in the Wizarding World Book Club?  Let us know what you think of it, and share your favorite Harry Potter book!  

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Camp NaNo Tips & Tricks: Part 2

Camp NaNoWriMo is nearly coming to an end.

If you’re on target, near the finish line, or you’ve already won Camp NaNoWriMo, congratulations! That’s a huge accomplishment and a reason to feel a tremendous amount of pride. Pat yourself on the back. Go on, you deserve it.

However, if you’re anything like me, Pantser and Procrastinator Extraordinaire–a dangerous combination–you are currently flailing, running around in circles, rocking back and forth, hyperventilating, completely avoiding the topic, or masterfully doing all of the above.

There are only a few days left. I know, it’s madness. Breathe in. Breathe out. Okay? Okay.


First of all, remember: You have more words now than what you started with.

Regardless of whether or not you reach your goal, you’re a winner just for trying. I know, I know. It sounds cheesy. But it’s true. The fact that you challenged yourself

Think of it this way: all words are just a combination of 26 letters, yet they elicit vivid imagery, raw emotions, and lasting changes. Basically, they’re magic.

You’re a wizard, [insert name here].


Don’t Forget: All words have worth.

Not to say you won’t have to do a substantial amount of editing or completely rewrite certain passages.

I tend to think of these type of words as fertilizer. Quite frankly, a lot of what I write is sh*t. But it makes great fertilizer. I keep a folder in my Scrivener projects where I can dump–never delete–these kinds of words. Once in a while, I’m able to pull something from them, if only a concept or a sentence.

Ray Bradbury’s philosophy is that quantity produces quality.

Think about it this way: Assume 90% of your writing sucks, but only 7% is acceptable and another 3% is utterly breathtaking prose. If you write 50,000 words, you will have written 3,500 words worth of perfectly good writing, and 1,500 words worth of magic.

Keep writing. The more you write, the better the chances you’ll write something extraordinary.

Check in with us.

We’d love to see how your Camp Project is going! Drop us a line in the comments. We also cordially invite you to our Writer’s Haven, an online chat community. We write, talk, vent, give and ask for advice. All are welcome at any time!

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Camp NaNoWriMo Tips & Tricks: Part 1

TIPS FROM SUZANNE WDOWIK:

Tip #1: Writer’s Block and Characterization

When I get “writer’s block”, my first step is to take a deep breath and diagnose the problem, much like you would a coding error or an illness. Sometimes the cause of writer’s block is a lack of concrete characterization for your point-of-view character, as was the case with my own writing this week. Though I’m writing in third person, and though I created this character over a decade ago, I realized I did not truly “know” him.

Don’t be afraid to take a bit of time away from writing to develop your characters’ personalities. If the only thing you can think of to move your plot forward is to throw stuff at your character and have them passively react to things in a generic manner, then you might be suffering from this type of writer’s block. Try making a character music playlist, collecting songs that they might listen to or that describe the situations they find themselves in (unrequited love, a decision that is tearing them apart, reflection on fond memories of their childhood, etc). I spent a good portion of a day creating a playlist for my character, and through that I discovered that the character I once thought of as calm and emotionless actually has a destructive and intense personality that he is able to keep in check. This has informed my writing of him and I now see the motivations behind the actions he takes throughout the novel.

If that doesn’t work, or if music isn’t your thing, try another creative outlet. You can make an aesthetics mood board (like the ones found on Pinterest) to get a feeling for your character, or you can answer a personality quiz from the point of view of that character. Whatever you choose, it is never a waste of time to take a break from writing and focus on developing your character’s personality. They will thank you for it.

Tip #2: Writing Speed

Basically: if you think you’re writing too slowly, DON’T WORRY. Anything you write is still forward progress. Plus, the more you write, the faster you will get. I’ve only been writing for Camp for the past three days and I’m already getting much faster. Like anything, it just takes practice and perseverance.

TIPS FROM MAYRA PÉREZ GONZÁLEZ

Tip #3: Falling Behind

Don’t worry about falling behind. Life gets crazy. Stuff happens. And time or willingness to write slips between your fingers like water. There’s nothing wrong with that. Sometimes we owe it to ourselves to take a moment, take a deep breath, and take one step back in order to propel yourself seven steps forward.

If you’re frustrated, don’t force it. It will be an uphill battle and your frustration might seep into your words through robotic tone, choppy sentences, or a careless plot. Throw your hands up in the air, wave them like you just don’t care, maybe go out or watch some Netflix. Your writing won’t go anywhere; it will still be there waiting for you.

Tip #4: Perfection is a Process

It took me a long time to realize that works of art become just that after continuous shaping and polishing. Don’t expect your writing to be absolutely perfect as soon as your ink touches the pages. Remember: it’s a work in progress. The beauty in writing is shaping the words between your hands until you’ve sculpted them into something breathtaking. Even paragraphs that you might not be proud of can turn out to be diamonds hidden in the rough.

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Rollercoaster Reader, Rollercoaster Writer

I recently began reading and writing again. I’ve missed it more than I can express.

I consider myself a rollercoaster reader and writer, in the sense that life’s ups and downs profoundly affect my ability to participate in the two activities closest to my heart: reading and writing.

It’s more than unfortunate and quite the Catch-22 that, with regards to my mental illnesses, what most brings me relief and helps me heal are the same things I cannot do when I’m unwell. Reading and writing are the greatest casualties in my war against the phantasmagoric mental illnesses that haunt me.

I stop reading as soon as my depression and anxiety decide to visit. Writing follows shortly after. I quickly find myself unarmed in the midst of a raging war.

I go through a period of desolation. Then guilt. How could I be stupid enough to forsake the one thing that makes me better? That guilt escalates to self-condemnation, then loathing. I push myself over the edge and force myself to read or write. The result is always awkwardly robotic and very obviously faked and forced. And, even worse, the pitiful creation proves painfully draining to produce. It only reinforces my negative emotions and leaves an overwhelmingly bitter aftertaste.

I truly wish my ability to read and write wouldn’t be susceptible to the constant misgivings of my personal afflictions. In a sense, I feel like my identity as a loyal logophile is fundamentally questioned by how easily I turn my back on words when darkness seeps back in.

I am not unwavering. I am not constant.

Yet, when words make a reappearance in my life the ray of hope is twofold: I am embracing words, again, which is amazing in it of itself, and I am getting better, for if I weren’t I wouldn’t be embracing them.

In a sense, the fact that mental illness betrays me by taking that which I love most makes me love writing and reading even more; being away from it for so long makes me appreciate it a lot more when I come back to it.

For me, words flutter away so easily. Yet, when I try to catch them, much like Thoreau’s butterfly, they elude me.

 

I have to ask myself: should I focus on the fact that I stop reading and writing when I get bad?  or should I concentrate on how, sooner or later, I always come back to it when I’m better?

Perhaps someday, I’ll learn to sit still and be patient. After all, regardless of how far I fall, I always pick myself back up, and when I do, words always flutter back and alight upon me when I least expect it.

I have yet to embrace myself as a rollercoaster writer and reader. But I’m working on it. That’s what’s important.
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22 LGBTQA+ Authors

If you’re looking for a few LGBTQA+ authors to read, here is a list of authors, ranging from well-known to indie, and a few notable works to get you started.  

Charlie Jane Anders

All the Birds in the Sky


J.M. Barrie

Peter Pan


Imogen Binnie

Nevada


Jennifer Finney Boylan

Long Black Veil

You Are You


Zac Brewer (published under Heather Brewer)

The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod

The Slayer Chronicles


Truman Capote

In Cold Blood

Breakfast at Tiffany’s


E.M. Forester

Maurice

A Room With a View

A Passage to India


Edward Gorey

The Gashlycrumb Tinies


Radclyffe Hall

The Well of Loneliness


Violette Leduc

La Bâtarde

Therese and Isabelle


Audre Lorde

Zami: A New Spelling of My Name


Seanan McGuire

Every Heart a Doorway

Rosemary and Rue


Marcel Proust

In Search of Lost Time


Jane Rule

Desert of the Heart


Maurice Sendak

Where the Wild Things Are


Sarah Waters

Fingersmith

Affinity

The Night Watch

Tipping the Velvet


Walt Whitman

Leaves of Grass


Oscar Wilde

The Picture of Dorian Gray

The Importance of Being Earnest


Tennessee Williams

A Streetcar Named Desire

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof


Jeanette Winterson

Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit


Virginia Woolf

Mrs. Dalloway

Orlando

Moments of Being


RoAnna Sylver

Chameleon Moon

Articles

Speed Reading

There is a new trend that is taking single book lovers and pairing them together. That’s right! It’s a brand new way to date – speed reading.

How can you find a round? Check your local libraries and bookstores – even a few local coffee shops might be hosting this type of event.

The idea is simple and follows the same basic principles as speed dating. Anyone can register for an event in advance. The only rule is you must like to read. Once at the event, individuals are paired up. Possible matches are made based on specific genre preferences. A timer is set and the couple has four minutes to talk everything books to see if they can make a connection. Before the round ends each party comes up with a book suggestion the other to try. When the buzzer sounds, it is time to rotate to a new partner and do it all again.

Individuals can make their own decisions about dating either after the four minutes or when they finish reading the book suggestion. To those who adore their books, this is a fun way to meet new people. After all, how can you have a relationship with someone who doesn’t understand the one you already have with the written word? 

Even if you don’t make a love connection, this is an amazing way to come up with a new reading list you might not have otherwise tried.

If you can’t find one in your area, why not start one up! Ask around at small cafés and bookstores in your area to see if they are willing to provide a venue for an event like this! You’ll be surprised how many would love to be asked.

Thanks for reading.

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Five Signs That Prove You Were Born to Be a Writer

It’s the middle of the night. You wake up from a bad dream and instead of grabbing a glass of water and heading back to bed, you find yourself frantically scribbling down every detail before you forget. The notes sit by your bedside, waiting to be transformed into a story, but never are. You wonder if you have what it takes, but have doubts.

Here are a few ways to know you were meant to be a writer:

You have a plethora of writing utensils.

It doesn’t matter if it’s pens, pencils, markers or crayons, you have an abundance of them. Of course, when it comes to actually writing something, you have one favourite. You’ll use it till it breaks and when it does, you might hold a private ceremony to say goodbye.

You have as many journals as you do pens.

They come in every size and shape and they can be found all over your home. You are proud of your collection and use them wisely. That, of course, means if someone calls to leave a message you’ll be scrambling for something on which to write it down. Your journals are too good for such a menial task.

You prefer to watch rather than participate.

Wherever you go, you are constantly watching everything going on around you. In fact, if offered the opportunity to join in an activity, you’d turn it down. That’s not because you don’t want to participate, but your own personal fear that you’ll miss seeing some little detail that might be important.

You read – a lot.

Hearing about a new author isn’t just small talk for you–it’s an adventure. You feel compelled to read their books, just to see what they are all about. You love looking for author messages or underlying meanings hidden between the lines. Most importantly, you can find something good to say about every book and most likely would never leave a one-star review.

You buy your greeting cards blank inside.

You feel it’s better to write the message inside a card yourself rather than leave it up to someone else. Poems, messages of goodwill, and warm wishes flow off the tip of your pen. It only makes sense to add a personal touch to special occasions.

You read this whole article.

The title of this article alone hooked you. You wanted to know how many signs apply to you, so you read each and every one. You probably laughed out loud when you realized these are all things you do or have done. You also realized there are six signs listed in this piece, not five.

There are many other signs,  as well. These are only a few of my favourites. If you matched up to any, it’s time to admit you need writing in your life. Set aside a few hours a week to create stories or write in a journal. You’ll be amazed at what a difference it will make in your life. You were born to write; why deny yourself the opportunity?

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Five Signs That Prove You Are Addicted to Reading

It’s the middle of the night, you should be sleeping, but you can’t put down the book you started at bedtime. If this sounds familiar, you might just be a reading addict. Here are a few ways to know if you are:


You have an unusually large library.

Your bookcases are overflowing and some of the shelves are sagging in the middle from excess weight. Still, you continue to buy novels of all shapes and sizes. Even your bathroom has its own mini library. Of course, there is always a reason why you can’t lend any of them out.


You have attended several author signing events.

You may not know more than one or two of the attending authors, but you buy at least one book from each and every table. A list stuck to your fridge reminds you daily of the books you need to pick up next year. If a signing is happening near you, you know before anyone else. Personal Assistants might even have your number on speed dial to keep you in the loop.


You can quote your favourite authors.

You have read that book so many times, you could recite it forwards and backwards. When it comes to your favourite authors, it doesn’t stop there. You have watched enough interviews and read enough articles to know some fabulous quotes with which to impress your friends. It is unfortunate you’ll never have time to show off that wit – you’ll be too busy reading.


You read – a lot.

Hearing about a new author isn’t just small talk for you – it’s an adventure. You feel compelled to read their books, just to see what they are all about. You love looking for author messages or underlying meanings hidden between the lines. Most importantly, you can find something good to say about every book and most likely would never leave a one-star review.


Your cat has it’s own reading blog.

Fluffy is on Tumblr and Instagram showing off her superior furriness perched atop of all her favourite books. The worst part about this is: Fluffy has more followers than you do! When fluffy reads, people listen.


There are, of course, many other signs as well. These are only a few of my favourites. If you matched up to any, it’s time to admit – you are an addict. The good news is that’s not a bad thing. You may, however, want to manage your bookshelf space a little better.

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#WWGotYourBack: Swords, Gowns, & Plot Fodder

The latest Wonder Woman movie was released just 5 days ago, on June 2nd, and already there has been speculation over whether it’s actually plausible for Wonder Woman to keep her sword in her dress.

Wonder Woman fans and writers, rest assured. Just a day ago, on June 7th, Eva Wei posted a few images on Facebook proving that it’s surprisingly plausible.

As a writer, I’m always looking out for character
inspiration. The hashtag Eva Wei created,
#WWgotyourback, simply screams “plot fodder.”

PLOT FODDER

/plät  ˈfädər/

noun. A character, group of characters, scene, action, plot, item, etc. that inspires writers and/or generates an idea that can be incorporated into an author's current or future works in progress. In their natural habitat, writers depend on plot fodder to thrive. Be wary: When enountering plot fodder, writers may jump up excitedly or grab the nearest person by the shoulders and overdramatically express the joy and importance of their epiphany.

Others quickly joined in and posted images of
themselves keeping their weapon of choice down the
back of their dress. As a writer, character
inspiration abounds when I see these images!

Thanks to all those participating in
#WWgotyourback
for sharing such captivating images.

What do you think? Would any of your characters keep their swords in their dress? Have an idea for a character that would? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

Articles, Book Reviews, Young Adult

Ten Underrated YA Books

There have been plenty of times that I have picked up a book from the library solely because of the hype it’s gotten on social media, but I have found that nine out of ten times I have not enjoyed these books as much as I expected to. I still read the books because it’s fun being able to talk about books with other people, but I feel like a lot of really good books are underrated while a lot of really okay books are overrated. I don’t want to write about the overrated books today, but I do want to give you what, in my opinion, are the top ten most underrated books.


1. The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

Read our review of The Rest of Us Just Live Here

This book is so ridiculously beautiful, and I really wish that every YA reader would read it. This book makes a point to be original, even poking fun at some common tropes, and I really love that. It is so refreshing and original that I wish it would become as big as The Hunger Games was, but I also hope that it doesn’t, because I love this book so much and God forbid it gets turned into a movie.

 


2. What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen

Read our review of What Happened to Goodbye

Sarah Dessen is a well-known YA romance author, but it seems like this book is so often overlooked. It is by far my favorite Sarah Dessen book. It is quietly powerful with vibrant characters and a compelling plotline. It isn’t full of much conflict, which is why it may be overlooked, but it is one of those books I could read over and over again.


3. The Host by Stephanie Meyer

Most people don’t seem to be aware that Stephenie Meyer has more out there than the Twilight saga. The Host has been made into a movie, but it never got as much hype as Twilight. Really, The Host consists of what most people will claim Twilight lacks: an interesting plot, good characters, and healthy relationships. Also, no characters sparkle!  The Host is really all-around better, but most people don’t even know that it’s out there.


4. Paranormalcy by Kiersten White

Read our review of Paranormalcy

I think everyone should be obsessed over this paranormal book. It’s one of the best, most creative paranormal books that I have read, and I think that most YA readers would enjoy this. It may even make a good movie if it was done right–but how often are books turned into movies done right?


5. Waterfall by Lisa T. Bergren

Read our review of Waterfall

This is another book that I don’t think many people know exist, but it really is one of the most entertaining stories I have ever read. I fell in love with the characters–some more than others. This book is where I met my first book crush. If anything, just read this book for the oddly attractive characters.


6. Shatter Me by Tahareh Mafi

This book is amazing. The story is intense and well done and so captivating. Can we just replace the rest of dystopian books with this one, please? That’d be great.


7. The Alchemy of Forever by Avery Williams

Read our review of The Alchemy of Forever

This book is addicting. The concept is fascinating, and the characters were so relatable. I was pretty much in love from the first chapter. I’m actually shocked that this book isn’t more popular because it seemed like something that would become huge. Regardless, I really love it.


8. This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer Smith

First of all, can we just take a moment to appreciate this gorgeous cover? I think it’s beautiful, just like everything else about this book is beautiful. The love story made me love the characters and want to read more and more. This is saying a lot because I am not one who needs or even really wants romance in a story, but I loved this book.


9. Bitter End by Jennifer Brown

Read our review of Bitter End

Every list like this has to have a totally depressing book added to it, right? Bitter End is definitely it. Jennifer Brown, the author, is generally underrated. She writes really good books.


10. The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner by Stephenie Meyer

I know. At this point, you’re probably a little bit infuriated that I have included two books by Stephenie Meyer, but this book– technically a novella–was quite amazing. Whether or not you liked the Twilight saga, you might be interested in this new outlook on the story. I felt like this 200-page book was better than the rest of the series combined.


Books get a lot of hype for a reason–the majority of people like them, but if you’re like me, maybe you’ll enjoy some of these options a bit more than what is mainstream.