A First for Harry Potter

This Monday, J.K. Rowling and her publishers finally released the Harry Potter series as eBooks.  It’s been a long time coming for HP fans everywhere, and the question is, “Why now?”

I can understand why Rowling didn’t want to release them earlier.  She’s famously protective of her series, and putting them out as eBooks could have given way to piracy issues.  Even so, it’s great that she’s decided to go through with it.

It occurs to me that she and her publishers most likely wanted to have the eBooks out before Pottermore is released to the public in April (you’re going to love it, guys).  It only makes sense, then, to do it a week or two before the release.

So now they’re out there.  The eBooks are among us, and now you can download Harry Potter on your Kindle/Nook/iPad/et cetera anytime you like.  (Go here for the Web site where you can buy them.)  This, of course, opens up another kind of discussion: was Rowling right to withhold the possibility of eBooks for all these years?  Should she have released them online as soon as technology allowed it?  And what does this mean for other authors?  Should we all be just as cautious when considering online publication?

I, for one, respect her decision not to publish her books online until now.  In today’s world of piracy and copyright infringement, you really can’t be too careful (not that I’m in any way an expert on the matter).  And although it means fans had to buy the more expensive paper copies, as far as I’ve seen the majority of people didn’t really care.

Now, sure, Rowling could afford to do this because of the immense popularity of her books.  I’m certain for other authors the story is different.  But what do you think, readers?  Should eBooks be made available immediately with every book that comes out?  Or should the author be able to decide and possibly keep eBooks from happening?

In related news, OH MY GOODNESS J.K. ROWLING IS WRITING A NEW BOOK!!!  Not another Harry book, which is just fine with me (I’m not a fan of series running more than their due course), and it’s for adults this time, but OH MY GOODNESS CAPS LOCK DOES NOT FULLY EXPRESS MY FANGIRLY JOY!!!  I can’t even imagine what it will be about.  It will, in all likelihood, be something completely and wonderfully different than anything we’ve seen from her before.  I’m definitely going to be watching for more news of this.  Who’s with me?

Happy reading.

In Which I Find Out How You Found My Blog

It’s that time again: time for this month’s Teens Can Write, Too! blog post.  As always, a link to the Teens Can Write site can be found in the sidebar, and I have once more linked to the rest of the chain at the end of this post.  This month’s topic was, “What are the wackiest, funniest, most disturbing search terms anyone has ever used to find your blog?”  In addition, we chain-bloggers are required to tell readers about the novel we are currently working on.

This site has been going strong since July.  Well, technically since June, but that was just when I had secured the domain and “officially” started my blog.  But I started posting on July first.  Which is when this all started in my mind.

Anyway.  Over the few months this humble blog has been struggling along, there have been A LOT of search terms used to find it.  Now, while I have no doubt that most of the people searching these terms clicked onto my site, saw it was not what they wanted, and clicked right back off again, their ventures are recorded forever on my dashboard (that would be the part of WordPress where I control and shape my blog).  And it is to these ventures I now turn.

Without further ado, I give you a list of the search terms I thought were the funniest, weirdest, and/or most interesting, separated into four semi-distinct categories.  (In the interest of sanity, I have capitalized the first word of each phrase, regardless of original form.)

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All Hail Queen Rowling (In Which I Also Talk About Other Things)

or, Hogwarts Finally Sent Me My Letter

So, along with this week came some very exciting news.  And I mean VERY exciting.  Like, monumental.  Like, the greatest thing that’s happened to me since A LONG TIME.

This is what happened:

Self-explanatory.

Yes, ladies and gents, I’m in Pottermore.  I got in back in early August, but, of course, I didn’t actually get onto the site until this week, and I’ve been DYING to tell you this but I thought it would be a nice surprise.

So, there you have it.  I’m finally in, and it’s AMAZING, and I can’t wait to see if any of you are in or are going to join.  I’m not going to post any pictures or whatnot (though there are quite a few floating around if you know where to look), because I feel like that would be spoiling it for anyone who’s SUPER EXCITED about it.

My Potter-loving friend and I got in together, and the past weeks have been horrendous for us, waiting for our letters.  Seriously.  You should see my Facebook wall.  Nothing but Potter, Potter everywhere for the past month.

Not that I didn’t enjoy it.  It was loads of fun.

Anyway…more about the site.  I got sorted into Ravenclaw, which is a HUGE relief.  I’ve known where I would be for years now, and I was afraid that Pottermore would send me into a SPIRALING IDENTITY CRISIS OF DOOM.

Luckily, that didn’t happen.

Or yet in wise old Ravenclaw / If you've a ready mind / Where those of wit and learning / Will always find their kind.

If you have an account (or are getting one in October) and want to add me, my username is MagicSparks131.

Now that that’s out of the way:

I realized after sending out my last post that I neglected to post any Wrock/Rockingjay/Trock for you to listen to, though I talked about it.  Therefore, I’m giving you a couple of videos.  Please note that I really haven’t gotten into this area of music much, so my choices were limited to what I’ve heard on the Fireside Chat and whatever I could find on YouTube.  Feel free to comment with links to your favorite songs if you like.

This one is from the POV of Draco Malfoy, which is kind of interesting and SUPER funny:

And now for Rockingjay:

This is just a small selection, however.  If you’re interested, you should totally check some other bands and artists for yourself.  And there’s always Trock for you Whovians!

*Rejoices in the midst of unbridled geeky delight*

Happy reading!

Let It Wrock

I’m not a musical person, let’s get that out in the open right now.  My attempts at piano playing were disastrous and ended shortly after they began.  However, I somehow always have some song or another playing in my head on any given day.  I quite like to listen to music, actually, as long as the “artist” isn’t so autotuned s/he sounds more robotic than GLaDOS during the credits of Portal.*

That being said, I LOVE when music and books come together.  This happens both with the author and the fans.  On the author side, we have playlists that some put out for their books.  A book playlist is made up of songs that go along with certain scenes in a book, or whose music goes with the emotions and themes, usually that the author listened to when needing some inspiration.  Some of them are quite nice, actually.  Stephenie Meyer has playlists for all four books in her Saga up on her website.  And, of course, my favorite blogger author, Maggie Stiefvater, has made some too.  In hers, though, it’s even cooler.  Most of her protagonists are musicians, so they make up songs.  Eventually, this led to actual artists doing covers of one of them.  Here’s my favorite (of two):

That was a good day for me.

On to the fans.  As you can see from the title of this post, the most prominent fan-made homages to books are songs written about said books.  Such as Wrock, which is the shortened version of Wizard Rock.  Meaning Harry Potter music.  You can find a bunch of it on iTunes.

Epic.

And it doesn’t stop with the boy wizard.  There are songs for Dr. Who (called Trock, for Time Lord Rock [yes, I know it’s not a book, but it’s too geeky-cool to resist a mention]) and for the Hunger Games (otherwise known as Rockingjay).  There may be more, but those three are the ones I know of that have more than a couple of bands.

I think this is so cool, guys.  When someone is creative enough and talented enough to mix two art forms?  Absolutely awesome.  Plus it’s like extra stuff to go along with your favorite fandom!  And who doesn’t like belonging to an amazing fandom?

Lastly, there are the fan-made playlists.  You’ve probably done this before, though you might not have realized it at the time.  It’s when you listen to a song and you realize, hey, this song is exactly like that one scene in that one book I once read.  I definitely do this all the time.  Some examples:

This Taylor Swift song describes Bella in New Moon PERFECTLY:

There actually are videos on YouTube that show clips of Bella and Edward, but none of them seemed right, so I went with just the lyrics.

My second example is one I’ve been thinking about A LOT lately.  This song could be used in a couple of different specific situations, so I’m just going to call it a theme.  This theme, in my head, is about the Gale/Katniss relationship from the time she goes into the Games on:

There are a couple of others I could share (including a Haymitch song- which I think is pretty interesting), but I think this is enough for one post.

Happy reading!

*If you don’t know what I’m talking about, please, in the name of all that is geeky, watch this.  I guarantee it will get stuck in your head.

Don’t Pretend You Never Wanted to Do This

To many readers, characters become real people over the course of a series.  Once the reader has laughed, cried, and gasped in terror alongside them for what is sometimes years on end, it can’t help but happen.  We have little fantasies in our heads in which we meet them.  They become good friends to us, people who understand what you’re going through because they went through it too.  They live in us as much as they live in the pages of the books they appear in.

Therefore, I think it’s awesome when fans come together to do something about these characters, to bring them to life in a new, fantastic way.  For instance, when I was younger the Disney Channel would make a different character available by email each week.  The characters would not be from their classic movies as much as their regular shows, but hey- I didn’t care.  I loved it.  It was so exciting to get letters from people I watched on TV.

Nowadays, yes, I realize they were probably pre-written emails and my fangirlish fan mail was sent and never seen again by human eyes.  But that made no difference to my younger self.

Now, one of my friends on Tumblr has found multiple different sites where eager fans of the Harry Potter series are orchestrating question-and-answer sort of sessions, posing as specific characters.  My friend was kind enough to give me the link to one such website.  All of the following photographs are taken from that site.  (I have to warn my more sensitive readers, though: some of the posts on that site are rather inappropriate.  Sorry.  I’ve been careful to re-post only clean ones, though.)

So, without further ado, look under the cut for my favorite responses from the Golden Trio Notes!

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Sometimes People ARE What They Seem

It is very clear to me that appearance says a lot about a person, and by extension, a character.

Before I begin I should warn you that this is not by any means professional advice.  I’ve never had a work of fiction published anywhere other than on this blog.  So be warned.  The following tips may be horribly wrong.

Moving right along…

When I’m writing a character, I want their outward appearance to be something of a reflection of their inner personalities.  For example, if a character is sweet and likeable, I would illustrate that by putting her in a nice blouse or even a sundress.  That way, if I’m experiencing that person from another person’s POV, the reader can infer something about the sweet character before she even speaks.

The simple, girly clothing highlights the character's innocence.

A person who is outdoorsy and adventurous would reflect that in their wardrobe: sporty-type or khaki shorts and a t-shirt with a fleece jacket.  For a guy, perhaps some boots would be added.

This couple's attire clearly spells out the fact that they're ready for a day under the sun.

On the other hand, if my character is a hard person to get to know, or if they appear to be mysterious and distant, I would put them in very plain, nondescript clothing that gives away none of their true personality.  That way, no one can begin to guess what their true feelings are.

With no markings of any kind, one can't even know where this man shops.

Of course, if you really want to illustrate the complexity in your character, you could make them have a wacky wardrobe that holds all manner of items.  Or, if they are liars or betrayers, make them seem more innocent than they really are.  All that really counts is that you make sure these people are true to life.  If it were a real person, where would they shop?  What would feel comfortable on them?  These are the kinds of questions I like to ask myself when fleshing out my characters.

It doesn’t have to stop with clothing, either.  A character’s physical appearance can be affected just as much.  Is your character crisp and business minded?  Then don’t let his hair go shaggy.  If your girl is the outdoors type mentioned above, she might always have her hair up in a ponytail.

Searching my brain for an example of good descriptions, the one that sticks out most in my mind is J.K. Rowling’s Remus Lupin.  One of the first descriptions we have of Lupin in the book is that his clothes are “shabby” and patched up.  Later, this is shown to make complete sense given the fact that Lupin is a werewolf.  Being what he is, it’s difficult for him to get a job, so naturally his clothing would reflect the lack of income.

Why, Lupin? WHY??? *sob*

I’m not saying it’s necessary to tell all the details in your manuscript.  That would just be boring after a while, and even if it weren’t it’s impossible to fit everything into one book or short story.  But you as the author should definitely have an idea about what the character wears and looks like.  Not only is it handy for the descriptions you do use, but it’s also a safeguard against writing anything that’s out of character.  You don’t want to accidentally put a character in an outfit that doesn’t fit their personality, unless of course you meant to for plot reasons.

Well, that’s all I have to say on the subject.  My next post might be another Hunger Games one.  We’ll see.

Happy reading!

Do You See It Now?

I’ve had a couple of conversations with friends of mine lately regarding actors in relation to the characters they portray.  And I want to get something straight here:

ACTOR.  DOES.  NOT.  EQUAL.  CHARACTER.

People have tried to convince me that this person:

…is essentially the same entity as this person:

…which is completely not true.  Daniel Radcliffe is not Harry Potter.  He is the actor who portrays Harry Potter in the films.  He is very good at it, yes, and he basically grew up with people recognizing him as Harry.  But that doesn’t mean he’s a wizard.  He didn’t fall off the face of the planet once they were done shooting the last movie.  He’s going on to do other things withing his acting career, none of them, I’m sure, having to do with Harry.

Another example.  I heard today that now that these were unleashed upon the world:

…someone can finally visualize the characters.  But doesn’t that defeat the entire purpose of what readers put into books?  As readers, it’s our job to try and recreate in our minds what the characters and settings look like.  It feels like cheating to me if we just take for granted that the actors in the movies are EXACTLY what they “should” look like.  That ruins the fun!

Characters are not equivalent to the actors, or vice versa.*  And even though I admit I now see Bella Swan as looking like Kristen Stewart, I cannot stress enough how important it is in my mind that the two stay separate.  They are two different things.

This is bad for the actors as well.  Daniel Radcliffe, for instance, will probably never be able to be recognized for any other acting job, no matter how talented he becomes.  People will always see him as “the Harry Potter kid,” that adorable thirteen-year-old from the first movie.  That’s probably the best example of how in these super-big franchises, the actors almost always become equated with their biggest roles.**

And that’s just not good, especially if they’re trying to get away from that and do something new.

I guess all I’m trying to say is, use your imagination.  Try to come up with your own vision of a character, and don’t just wait for the movie to see what they look like.  If you just can’t imagine anything else but the actor, though, I guess you really can’t change that, can you?

So I suppose that’s an exception.

Just remember that they’re not the same person.

Happy reading!

*Although Jennifer Lawrence is pretty much EXACTLY what I pictured Katniss would look like.  She’s perfect.

**Poor Robert Pattinson gets the worst end of it; he’s both Edward Cullen AND Cedric Diggory.