20 Years of Harry Potter: Goodreads Members on the Magic of J.K. Rowling’s Books

We were all Muggles once. Before Harry, before Hogwarts, before Quidditch and Sorting Hats, our lives were all a little less magical. That changed on June 26, 1997, when J.K. Rowling published her first novel, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (published a year later in the United States as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone).

Two decades into the boy wizard’s reign, Rowling’s books have spawned blockbuster movies, theme parks, stage productions, and a powerful legacy that rivals those of far older classics.

“Will kids (and adults, as well) still be wild about Harry a hundred years from now, or two hundred?” Stephen King wrote in his review of the fifth book in the series. “My best guess is that he will indeed stand time’s test, and wind up on a shelf where only the best are kept; I think Harry will take his place with Alice, Huck, Frodo, and Dorothy, and this is one series not just for the decade, but for the ages.”

To mark the 20th anniversary of Philosopher’s Stone’s publication, we asked our followers on Facebook and Twitter to tell us how the series has impacted their life. Check out some of our favorite stories below and then share yours in the comments!

1. “It brought my mother, myself, and my children closer. Three generations fighting over who would get to read the next book first.” -Nauina

2. “It ignited my love of reading. I essentially grew up with Harry. I will be forever grateful for its influence on my life. Always.” -Andrea

3. “It was the first book I read in English! It taught me the language.” -Lilly
4. “When I was in middle school, I was bullied. In my mind, I went to Hogwarts every single day to escape my own torment. Thank you, J.K. Rowling! Thank you Harry, Ron, and Hermione.” -Taryn

5. “I met my best friend through reading Harry Potter, and she’s now my bridesmaid. Our friendship will be 18 years old.” -Erin

6. “I’m an old lady with an old kid and didn’t read my first Harry Potter book until last September. Prior to that I used to wonder what there was in the way of current entertainment that could compare with what I had—shows like Howdy Doody and Westerns. Now I know that with Harry, this generation got something far better. It’s some serious magic.” -Judy

7. “My Dad still calls me Hermoine! It’s nice to share the love of the books with my family.” -Sally

8. “I had turned away from reading. J.K. Rowling brought me back…and she brought me back stronger and better than I ever thought possible. Thank you, J.K. Rowling. Thank you.” -Natalie

9. “When my oldest was about ten, he asked if there would still be Harry Potter books when he grew up. I said, ‘Of course, books are forever. Why?’ His answer: ‘I just wanted to make sure I can read them to my kids someday.’ -Stephanie

10. “I want to be a writer because of Harry Potter! Because when I read those books, I experienced a feeling of incomparable love and warmth.” -Gashugi

11. “It kickstarted my obsession with fantasy and science fiction—and it helped me overcome my depression.” -Nitasha

12. “OMG! Where do I begin? A coworker introduced me to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. I read the entire book in one day and was hooked from that moment on. I’ve gone to all of the midnight book and movie releases. I reread the series so many times I’ve lost count. No words could adequately explain my love for these books.” -Shanda

13. “It’s been the best friend that’s never abandoned me!” -Phoenix

14. “It gave me a happy and safe space I can always turn to no matter what.” -Jelke

15. “I always pick up Harry Potter books when I need to be reminded that hope perseveres even in the darkest times. Thank you for the magic, J.K. Rowling!” -Desiree

16. “It shaped my politics. As a young reader navigating the world, the books helped me better understand the moral consequences of our actions!” -Rachit

17. “I have dyslexia and ADHD. In middle school, I was reading at a second grade level. I had this friend who was a big reader, and she would tell me about the world inside those books. I was so mesmerized by it. But I got tired of being told about it and wanted to see it for myself. So I went and got Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. I read and reread that book so many times until the words started to make sense. I started trying to read everything. In the seventh grade, I went from a second grade reading level to an eighth grade level in one semester. It was all because of my friend…and because of Harry Potter. I’m such a huge reader now. I don’t know who I’d be if I’d never found those books. A me who can’t read—it’s a scary thought. I owe it all to that series. It sounds dumb but it really was like finding a home.” -Rebecca

18. “I found my fandom and my people! And we’re cool now. When I was younger, I would’ve been ridiculed for being so bookish and nerdy.” -Bri

19. “I was 11 when I read them for the first time. It seems so long ago. Those stories kept me afloat when everyone else in my life was trying to drown me. I just wish I could read them for the first time all over again.” -Shivani

20. “Hogwarts is my home, and I’m still waiting for my letter.” -Dounia

By Hayley Igarashi

Source: Goodreads

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10 Ridiculously Simple Steps for Writing a Book

The hard part of writing a book isn’t getting it published. With more opportunities than ever to become an author, the hard part is the actual writing.

In this post, I offer 10 steps for writing a book.

As the bestselling author of five published books, I can tell you without hesitation that the hardest part of this life is sitting down and doing the work. Books don’t just write themselves. You have to invest everything you are into creating an important piece of work, and this requires discipline.

For years, I dreamed of writing. I believed I had important things to say, things the world needed to hear. But as I look back on what it took to actually become an author, I realize how different the process was from my expectations.

To begin with, you don’t just sit down to write a book. That’s not how writing works. You write a sentence, then a paragraph, then maybe if you’re lucky, an entire chapter. Writing happens in fits and starts, in bits and pieces. It’s a process.

The way you get the work done is not complicated. You take one step at a time, then another and another. As I look back on the books I’ve written, I can see how the way these works were made was not as glamorous or as mysterious as I once thought.
How to really write a book (what’s in this article)
In this post, I’ll teach you the fundamental steps you need to write a book. I’ve worked hard to make this easy to digest and super practical, so you can start making progress.

And just a heads up: if you dream of authoring a bestselling book like I have and you’re looking for a structured plan to guide you through the writing process, I have a special opportunity for you at the end of this post where I break the process down.

But first, let’s look at the big picture. What does it take to write a book? It happens in three phases:

You have to start writing. This sounds obvious, but it may be the most overlooked step in the process. You write a book by deciding first what you’re going to write and how you’re going to write it.
Once you start writing, you will face self-doubt and overwhelm and a hundred other adversaries. Planning ahead for those obstacles ensures you won’t quit when they come.
Nobody cares about the book that you almost wrote. We want to read the one you actually finished, which means no matter what, the thing that makes you a writer is your ability not to start a project, but to complete one.

Below are 10 ridiculously tips that fall under each of these three major phases plus an additional 10 bonus tips. I hope they help you tackle and finish the book you dream of writing.

Phase 1: Getting started

1. Decide what the book is about

Good writing is always about something. Write the argument of your book in a sentence, then stretch that out to a paragraph, and then to a one-page outline. After that, write a table of contents to help guide you as you write, then break each chapter into a few sections. Think of your book in terms of beginning, middle, and end. Anything more complicated will get you lost.

2. Set a daily word count goal

John Grisham began his writing career as a lawyer and new dad — in other words, he was really busy. Nonetheless, he got up an hour or two early every morning and wrote a page a day. After a couple of years, he had a novel. A page a day is only about 300 words. You don’t need to write a lot. You just need to write often. Setting a daily goal will give you something to aim for. Make it small and attainable so that you can hit your goal each day and start building momentum.

3. Have a set time to work on your book every day

Consistency makes creativity easier. You need a daily deadline to do your work — that’s how you’ll finish writing a book. Feel free to take a day off, if you want, but schedule that ahead of time. Never let a deadline pass; don’t let yourself off the hook so easily. Setting a daily deadline and regular writing time will ensure that you don’t have to think about when you will write. When it’s time to write, it’s time to write.

4. Write in the same place every time

It doesn’t matter if it’s a desk or a restaurant or the kitchen table. It just needs to be different from where you do other activities. Make your writing location a special space, so that when you enter it, you’re ready to work. It should remind you of your commitment to finish this book. Again, the goal here is to not think and just start writing.

Phase 2: Do the work

5. Set a total word count

Once you’ve started writing, you need a total word count for your book. Think in terms of 10-thousand work increments and break each chapter into roughly equal lengths. Here are some general guiding principles:

  • 10,000 words = a pamphlet or business white paper. Read time = 30-60 minutes.
  • 20,000 words = short eBook or manifesto. The Communist Manifesto is an example of this, at about 18,000 words. Read time = 1-2 hours.
  • 40,000–60,000 words = standard nonfiction book / novella. The Great Gatsby is an example of this. Read time = three to four hours.
  • 60,000–80,000 words = long nonfiction book / standard-length novel. Most Malcolm Gladwell books fit in this range. Read time = four to six hours.
  • 80,000 words–100,000 words = very long nonfiction book / long novel. The Four-Hour Work Week falls in this range.
  • 100,000+ words = epic-length novel / academic book / biography. Read time = six to eight hours. The Steve Jobs biography would fit this category.

6. Give yourself weekly deadlines

You need a weekly goal. Make it a word count to keep things objective. Celebrate the progress you’ve made while still being honest about how much work is left to do. You need to have something to aim for.

7. Get early feedback

Nothing stings worse than writing a book and then having to rewrite it, because you didn’t let anyone look at it. Have a few trusted advisers to help you discern what’s worth writing. These can be friends, editors, family. Just try to find someone who will give you honest feedback early on to make sure you’re headed in the right direction.

Phase 3: Finishing

8. Commit to shipping

No matter what, finish the book. Set a deadline or have one set for you. Then release it to the world. Send it to the publisher, release it on Amazon, do whatever you need to do to get it in front of people. Just don’t put it in your drawer. The worst thing would be for you to quit once this thing is written. That won’t make you do your best work and it won’t allow you to share your ideas with the world.

9. Embrace failure

As you approach the end of this project, know that this will be hard and you will most certainly mess up. Just be okay with failing, and give yourself grace. That’s what will sustain you — the determination to continue, not your elusive standards of perfection.

10. Write another book

Most authors are embarrassed by their first book. I certainly was. But without that first book, you will never learn the lessons you might otherwise miss out on. So, put your work out there, fail early, and try again. This is the only way you get better. You have to practice, which means you have to keep writing.

Every writer started somewhere, and most of them started by squeezing their writing into the cracks of their daily lives. That’s how I began, and it may be where you begin, as well. The ones who make it are the ones who show up day after day. You can do the same.

By Jeff Goins

Source: goinswriter

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Creative Writing Prompts Inspired by Historical Events

Nonfiction writers are obviously inspired by the real world, but fiction writers and poets also take inspiration from real people and events.

Wars, scandals, scientific advances, and famous figures in history have all been represented in every form of writing.

Works of fiction that resonate best with readers contain a kind of truth, a reflection of our own real experiences. That’s why looking to the events of history for story ideas is a great way to inspire a writing session. And of course, poetry takes inspiration from everything in the universe. While personal experiences may be more popular sources of inspiration, some incredible poems and stories have been triggered by real events throughout history.

Today’s writing prompts come from major historical events. These prompts are for writing inspiration only and are not meant to be a comprehensive list of big events from history. They were chosen at random for their potential for igniting creative writing ideas.

You can use these creative writing prompts to write anything you want — a poem, a short story, a blog post, or a journal entry. The idea is to find the prompt that speaks to you and then start writing.

In a country that rants and raves about freedom, the government decides that its people should not be allowed to drink liquor. Write a story set during Prohibition in the United States.

The Great Depression filled the space between America’s Prohibition (which was still in effect during the Depression) and World War II. The Depression affected the entire world. Well-to-do people lost everything and found themselves standing in food lines. Ordinary people went to extraordinary measures to get a meager meal. Meanwhile, someone, somewhere profited.

World War II gave rise to what journalist Tom Brokaw called “the greatest generation.” Create a cast of compelling characters and write a story showing how circumstances forced them to become great.

Spaceships, planes, and men on the moon: We started out traveling around on foot. Then some clever Neanderthal invented the wheel. Now, we soar through the skies and tear through space. Write a story about a long journey set in an era when planes, trains, and automobiles weren’t readily available.

The 1960s gave us Civil Rights, Woodstock, and the space race. What happens when a nation’s people are divided? What happens when minorities of people are oppressed? What happens when ordinary kids decide they don’t want to grow up and become just like their parents? Mix in the fact that there’s a war nobody understands and most people don’t believe in. Add drugs, flowers, and peace signs, and you’ve got the sixties. Write a story set during this iconic decade.

Write a story that is set around the assassination of an important, benevolent, historical figure: for example, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, JFK, or John Lennon.

Revolution could be defined as a war between a state and its people. Revolution often occurs when people are oppressed to the point of mass suffering. Choose one such revolution from history and write a story about the people who launched it.

Throughout history, people have emigrated across land and ocean. Choose a time period of heavy human migration. Then choose a starting place and a destination and write the story of a character or group of characters who take the voyage. Focus on the journey, not the place of origin or the destination.

The 1950s are often painted as a simple and idealistic time in American history. One income could support an entire family. Jobs were plentiful. Moms stayed home with their kids. Divorce was scandalous. Write about a protagonist who didn’t fit the mold, whose life was difficult because of the cultural and societal conventions of the time.

Good luck with these creative writing prompts! Have fun and don’t forget to come back and tell us how they worked for you.

By: Melissa Donovan

Source: writingforward

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How to Get Inspired by Dreadful Movies: An Octavia Butler Origin Story

Greatness doesn’t always beget greatness. Octavia Butler, who was born on this day 70 years ago, credited her remarkable, influential literary career to one sci-fi train wreck.

When she was 12 years old, Butler turned on the television and stumbled across a movie called Devil Girl From Mars. The basic plot was about a man-obsessed Martian and her mission to find humans to mate with. The movie was…not good. Critics called it “delightfuly bad” at best and “undeniably awful” at worst.
Butler could’ve turned the channel. Instead she watched the entire campy thing from start to finish.

“It changed my life,” Butler confessed years later in an essay about why she started writing science fiction “As I was watching this film, I had a series of revelations. The first was that ‘Geez, I can write a better story than that.’ And then I thought, ‘Gee, anybody can write a better story than that.’ And my third thought was the clincher: ‘Somebody got paid for writing that awful story.’ So I was off and writing, and a year later I was busy submitting terrible pieces of fiction to innocent magazines.”

She was being modest, of course. Those “terrible pieces” became the foundation of Wild Seed and the rest of her beloved Patternist series. Butler was the first science fiction writer to receive the presigious MacArthur Fellowship(nicknamed the “Genius Grant”), and her books won multiple Hugo and Nebula awards.

So next time you’re watching an awful movie, think of Butler. She turned one terrible film-watching experience into an award-winning writing career. What could you do?

Article by Hayley Igarashi.

Source:Goodreads blog.

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10 Tricks to Get Your Writing Flowing

 

 

For writers, as well as athletes, there’s nothing like being in the zone. Distractions fall away, time disappears, and your work seems to write itself.

Unfortunately for most writers, being in the zone is rare—instead of inspiration, we feel dread; instead of knowing, we feel lost; and instead of excitement, we feel anxiety.

But it doesn’t have to be like this. In fact, according to the research of Susan Perry, Ph.D., there are several concrete writing techniques and practices that can actually make finding inspiration and “getting into the zone” an everyday occurrence.

 

 

Check out the good people over at The Write Practice

 

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When to Do That Stringing-Words-Together Thing with Hyphens

These people at Daily Writing Tips  put out a lot of great articles for writers. This latest one is by Mark Nichol
 The negotiator is described as working behind the scenes. When that phrase appears in isolation, as an adverbial phrase rather than as a phrasal adjective modifying a noun that follows, no hyphenation is needed, but here, it serves the latter function: “Who was the behind-the-scenes negotiator who facilitated the deal?”When are hyphens required to string together a sequence of words, and when are the hyphens extraneous? The following sentences, each with a discussion and a revision, illustrate the syntactical situations in which they are necessary and when they are superfluous.

1. Who was the behind the scenes negotiator who facilitated the deal?

The negotiator is described as working behind the scenes. When that phrase appears in isolation, as an adverbial phrase rather than as a phrasal adjective modifying a noun that follows, no hyphenation is needed, but here, it serves the latter function: “Who was the behind-the-scenes negotiator who facilitated the deal?”

 

See the rest at Daily Writing Tips

 

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Which Social Media Channel Sells The Most Books?

 

Rachel Thompson has written a great article on the effectiveness of popular Social Media influencers over at her site at Bad Redhead Media. Rachel is considered one of the top Social Media Gurus for authors and has some great research to share in this article as well as her website.

 

“Which one social media channel will net me the most book sales?” an author asked me recently during my new weekly #BookMarketingChat (join any Wednesday on Twitter, 6pm pst/9pm est simply by typing in the hashtag).

Well, it’s not that easy. Wouldn’t it be great if we could just go to say, Facebook because that’s the EASY button, and violá! They will come, we will sell, and yacht-life, here we come. Alas, it just doesn’t work that way because well, a few reasons.

Let’s deconstruct.

 

 

Go check the rest of this article at Bad Redhead Media

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7 Lies Writers Believe (and the Truths You Need to Know Instead)

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The writing world is filled with land mines—lies that, when you step on them, blow you right off your creative feet.

I’ve stepped on all of these in my writing career, and every author-friend I know has set them off, too. That tells me they’re pretty common.

Lies Writers Struggle With

I want to help arm you against these painful, dangerous explosions, so I present to you seven lies that writers believe—and the truths that can help you get back on your feet.

Fair warning: this will be a very quote-heavy article. Why? Because I don’t want you to just take my word for it. I want you to see that all creative minds have to navigate these mines—including the best authors in the world.

Lie #1: If you haven’t made it/gotten an agent/become famous by now, you never will.

This is a rough one. When we finally get the courage to start writing (and *gasp* tell people that we are), a funny thing happens: for some reason, others forget everything they know about how skill training works, and they insist we should have “arrived” already.

Baloney. Does anything work that way? Even people with genius taste buds need to learn how to cook. Being “discovered overnight” is an enchanting fantasy, but it’s a dangerous myth.

Here’s the truth: just like getting in shape, climbing a mountain, or memorizing a symphony, writing takes time to master. 

Sam Sykes said once that no matter who you are as an author, you pay your dues at one end or another. To put it another way: it takes many years to be an overnight success. Maybe you haven’t “made it” yet. That doesn’t mean you never will.

“An overnight success is ten years in the making.”
― Tom Clancy, Dead or Alive

“Timing, perseverance, and ten years of trying will eventually make you look like an overnight success.”
― Biz Stone

“It takes 20 years to make an overnight success.”
—Eddie Cantor

“Actually, I’m an overnight success, but it took twenty years.”
—Monty Hall

If you haven’t made it/gotten an agent/become famous by now, you aren’t out of time yet. Keep writing. Keep reading. Don’t quit.

Read the rest of the truth at The Write Practice

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3 Most Important Elements of Chapter One

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Publisher – Aggregator – Master Distributor

The first chapter of a novel is arguably the most important—if a reader isn’t hooked, she won’t keep reading. And if that happens, nothing else you write matters.

 

Think of your first chapter as the tip of the iceberg—sure, there’s a ton more to your story that readers may not be seeing yet…but that’s what the rest of the manuscript is for. In the first chapter, you just need enough to hook the reader and get them curious about what’s going on under the water.

How to Write Your First Chapter

But what does it take to create that hook? I thought a lot about this as I wrote and edited my first novel. And my conclusion is that, while there are many different ways to creatively introduce a story in the first chapter, there are three key things a first chapter must do to pull a reader in.

Read the rest of Emily’s article at The Write Practice

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