A Valentine’s Day Sneak Peek

What started out as a Valentine’s Day short story challenge set by a friend, ended up fueling so many ideas that it looks like I have a new novel on my hands, whether I want one or not. So, to celebrate February 14th, I thought I’d publish the first three chapters here. The chapters are still in their early stages. If this idea ever makes it into a full novel worth publishing, there’s no doubt that these chapters would change dramatically. Still, it can be fun to poke your nose into a writer’s first or second drafts.

The challenge: Write a 5k-10k short story that includes the words heart, surrender, Valentine, Cupid, and sweet somewhere within the text.

My thought process: The challenge words made my mind jump immediately to the Romance genre. A story that takes place in the here and now. Except, I don’t write Romance and all my stories take place in other worlds entirely. That could make this tricky. After a lot of thinking and a notepad covered in scribbles, I started tracing out a plan: A Historical Fantasy set in London, 1946, recovering from WWll. The more I thought about it, the more the ideas multiplied, and I realized this would not be a short story… My friend suggested I write the first three chapters of the novel for the challenge instead and Blitzed was born.

I will post one chapter a day on the blog until Valentine’s when all three chapters are released. I hope you enjoy the sneak peek at one of my works in progress!

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Chapter 1

I set the clean glass on the counter and started wiping down another. Ten down, twenty more to go.

“There’s nothing doing once a lad’s got his mind made up to sow his oats and that one’s been growing wheat for years if you ask me.”

I hadn’t asked him, but there Frank was, on the same stool he’d sat on for the better part of sixty years, going on about my apparently failed love life.

“Yeh’ve got to show him who’s in charge, lass. Real subtle like though, or you’ll scare ‘em.”

“Right,” I said, setting another clean glass on the counter a little more firmly than was necessary. I’d worked in my uncle’s pub, The Huntsman, officially since I was fifteen. Unofficially, I’d worked here as long as I can remember, if only to run errands between coloring in the back of the phone book in the corner booth. The men here, the regulars, had seen me grow up and felt a sense of responsibility, grown out of some sort of paternal duty, to see that my life was a happy one.

“Those ears of his could pick up radio signals from Munich; could’ve helped the war effort!” called Ernest from his place at a round wooden table that was probably as old as he was. He and Frank laughed and raised their glasses. I couldn’t help smiling. Colin’s ears had been awfully large.

What they hadn’t understood, though, was that I was perfectly happy with how things ended. Mostly the fact that they had ended. I’d been trying to figure out a way to break up with Colin for the past month, but he beat me to it. I just wish he would have waited until after Valentine’s Day. Thinking me brokenhearted right before the saint’s holiday was half the reason the old codgers wouldn’t let up.

“Lydia,” came my uncle’s voice from the back room. “I need you back here for a moment.”

I tucked the rag into my front apron pocket and pushed open the door set into the stone wall behind the counter. Frank and Ernest were the only two patrons at the moment, but more would soon be arriving as it neared six ‘o clock.

My uncle Jack stood with a clipboard next to a stack of boxes labeled with the Charrington stamp. He was one of those people that carry themselves in a way that makes them look much taller than they really are. He owned three of the same sweaters in slightly different variations of muted brown on which he always wore a fastidiously kept red, paper poppy.

My uncle had told me countless times with great pride about the day he’d enlisted in the first war illegally at the age of sixteen. It almost broke his mother’s heart, he’d said. So when the news of the second war broke, he’d marched down to the army’s registrar’s office fully intending to enlist again. When they turned him down on account of a previous injury, he came straight home, pinned the poppy to his lapel and threw himself into the home front war effort more than any other single person I knew.

“I need these logged into inventory before the rush,” he said, tapping the stack of boxes.

“I’m on it.”

“Oh, and Lydia? Are you sure about that drink of yours?”

“Yes, yes. It’ll be a hit, I promise!”

In an attempt to cheer me up, my uncle had suggested I put one of my cocktails I’d been dying to try on the menu. The Huntsman was a strictly ale and stout kind of pub but I had been pestering Uncle Jack to let me try making some of the drink recipes I’d seen in Woman. I thought it would bring in the younger crowds, not to mention some ladies for once.

This being my chance, I’d mixed up my own special recipe for Valentine’s Day that I’d named The Cupid. It involved candy hearts, a cherry, and a good deal of gin. I mixed one up for Uncle Jack last night and he seemed more than a little wary. I made sure to mention that I’d had to return a few of Colin’s things earlier.

***

That night was an especially busy one on account of it being the Saturday after payday. The men were in a raucous mood with many refrains of “The Foggy Dew” being sung at every new round of drinks. I spun around my uncle, holding pitchers of beer in both hands as he scraped together change from the register’s drawer.

I glanced at the chalkboard where I’d meticulously written “Valentine’s Day Special: The Cupid! Try it tonight!” with curlicues and embellishments. Not a single one had been ordered.

“Another round of Barclays over here, lass!”

I hurried to the tap. Guess my uncle was right. There’s no use selling a drink for a young lady when we didn’t yet have any. He’s never going to let me try out a new drink again, I thought, sullenly filling another pitcher.

I scanned the bar to count up the number of people waiting on drinks when I noticed someone new gingerly push open the door and look around. He was wearing a clean white button-up, underneath a twill jacket, like he’d just come from an office or something and it immediately put him at odds with his surroundings.

The men of the Huntsman were almost all labor workers- metal, construction, the docks. It wasn’t often we saw an accountant, or whatever he was.

He sidled up to the bar, one hand in his pocket, looking at what we had on tap. When Gregory left his stool to go join a game of cards, the newcomer took his spot.

“Erm, whiskey please. Linkwood if you have it.” A lock of brown wavy hair fell over his forehead and he pushed it back in place. He was quite young, now that I had a clear look at him. Probably around my age.

“That we do, Mr…”

“Harkers. Nathanial Harkers. But call me Nat, if you don’t mind.”

“Alright, Nat. Welcome to The Huntsman. Linkwood Whiskey it is then.”

I poured a glass and set it down in front of him. He finished it in one go.

“Thirsty are ya?” I asked laughing.

“A little. Another, please?”

“Sure thing.”

This one he took slower, one modest sip at a time. I left him to it and made my rounds through the tables. Most barmaids had to worry about pinches or pats on the bum every night, but no one here would even let it cross their mind. Not to someone they’d given hard candies to as a child, still warm from their pocket. And even if some of the younger men did think to get a little handsy, my uncle would have them out on their arses before they could blink.

“Tell ‘em, Lyd! Tell ‘em I won the final hand night before last!” Ernest said, pulling me over to his table.

“I’m sorry Greg, he certainly did.”

“Ha! What’d I tell ya? You were too gone in your cups!” Ernest slapped his cards down. “You’d better pay up or I’ll call ‘round to the missus!” I winked at Ernest as Gregory counted out the pounds.

Back behind the bar, I ran a rag over the hundred-year-old surface, worn at the edges where countless bellies had rubbed against it.

“You seem rather popular in here,” said Nat.

“You would be too if you’d control over the alcohol,” I laughed. “You new to this area? Just start a job or something?” I looked again at his clean button up.

“Oh, yeah, you could say that.”

“What do you do?”

“Electricity, mainly.”

“An electrician? You don’t look like it.”

He laughed. “Well, you don’t look much like a barmaid yourself.”

“Now, what is that supposed to mean?”

He blushed faintly. “Only, I dunno. You look like you could be one of those girls that travels a lot. Seen a lot of the world. Like in the pictures.” His voice trailed off and he looked down at his drink. “Don’t mind me, I always end up saying stupid things once someone gets me talking.”

I burst out laughing— the kind of laughing that makes people around you look up and take notice, which is exactly what happened. It was just… that was probably the poorest description I’d ever heard of myself. I had lived in the same flat with my parents since the day I was born. I’d never gone anywhere but to the country for a bit during the worst of the war.

Once I’d recovered myself enough to speak, I said, “Must be something off with our whiskey to get you to say something like that. But I thank you. If it was a compliment of sorts, I’ll take it.”

Nat looked up at me and grinned. He had a cheeky little smile. Mischievous, like the kind of grin I imagined got him in and out of trouble as a child. His ice clinked around his empty glass.

“Another whiskey, is it?”

“I’d better switch to ale, Miss.”

As I went to pour one from the tap I saw my uncle look up at the chalkboard and shake his head a little. I stopped.

“Hey, Nat,” I said leaning over the bar so he could hear my lowered voice. “Listen, would you mind terribly doing a favor for me?”

He looked at me quizzically for a moment then shrugged. “Sure?”

“Would you order the special for this week? It’d really help me out.”

“What is it?”

“Just a little something I made up for Valentine’s Day. There’s gin,” I added quickly.

He blew out a breath. “Ok, but you’re walking me home if I end up falling off this barstool.”

“Deal,” I laughed. “One special, coming right up!” I said loudly enough for my uncle and everyone at the bar to hear.

I took my time, making sure everything was just right. When I sat the pink concoction down in front of him, he just stared at it.

“You want me… to drink that?”

I nodded with enthusiasm. The men around him were starting to turn to look at him. A few craned around their companions to get a look at the martini glass. There were a few chuckles.

He looked up at me again. “You owe me one,” he said under his breath, then picked up the drink and downed it.

“You’re not supposed to—“ I started, but too late. He sat back, crunching on the conversation hearts from the bottom. Cheers went up and down the bar.

“It’s not bad, really!” he called out to the men cracking jokes. “A little sweet, but I actually liked it!”

I beamed.

“Lass?” It was Frank, sidling up to the bar. “I’d like to try one of them specials.” He gave me a wink and patted Nat on the back who wobbled dangerously on his stool.

And that’s all it took. Once the men saw how happy it made me every time someone ordered The Cupid, there was a pink martini glass on almost every table.

I might need to get my heart “broken” more often.

***

The night was over quicker than usual thanks to conversation with Nat between cleaning tables and drink orders. I found myself thinking up reasons to go to his end of the bar and talk to him. It was nice to have someone my age to talk to. He argued over who had the best album— Nat King Cole or Frank Sinatra. I’d always be a Sinatra girl no matter what he said.

The bar was emptying and Uncle Jack and I were busy collecting tabs.

“How much do I owe you?” asked Nat.

“Let’s see, um, looks like one pound, fourteen pence.”

He took the hand that had stayed in his coat pocket all night out with his wallet. Two of his fingers were missing, his pinky and ring finger, and most of what was left was shiny with burn scars.

“Oh,” I said, and immediately berated myself for drawing attention to it.

“Oh, this? I’d actually almost forgotten about it for once.” He smiled ruefully.

“The war?” I said. How stupid. Of course it was the war. First I draw attention to it, now I’m asking questions about it? I could feel whatever friendliness that had grown between us dissipating along with the cigar smoke in the pub.

“Bomb. It was a bomb. Here I mean, in London.”

“Oh,” I said again. I wished I could melt into the floor.

“It’s all right. Really,” he said, seeing my discomfort. “I can’t always keep it hidden. And the drinks help.” He gave me a wink. His hair was in he eyes again. He placed the money on the bar and put his wallet away, leaving both hands out of his pockets.

“Thank you. For ordering that drink, I mean,” I stammered.

“How long will it be on special?”

“What?”

“The Cupid— how long will you have it on special?”

“Until Valentine’s Day, I suppose.”

“Brilliant. I’ll be sure to come in for another.”

My heart leapt and I stared stupidly at him from behind the bar.

“See you next time?” he laughed.

“Yes!” I was finally catching up. “See you, then!”

He made his way to the door, only a little unsteady on his feet, and was gone into the cold night.

I immediately put my forehead down onto the bar and groaned. I was such an idiot.

“Tired?” Said my uncle, coming over to collect Nat’s money. “I can’t believe I’m saying this, but your drink was a hit! Maybe we can start having a cocktail special on the weekends, eh?” He nudged my elbow. I just grunted.

“Looks like that young gentleman of yours left you a good tip.” I stood up as he handed over the change.

“He’s not my gentleman, Uncle Jack. Don’t be getting any ideas.”

“I would never,” he said with a wink.

To be continued…. Look for Chapter 2 tomorrow! 

Be sure to let me know your thoughts below with a comment. Know someone who would love a story like this? Don’t be shy, share away!

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Back…with a Tiny Human

The best laid plans…

…are interrupted by tiny humans. At least, that’s what I’ve come to learn over the past five insane, beautiful, sleep-deprived, wondrous, monotonous, incredible months.

When last I left you, I was smack in the middle of My 500 Words Challenge and a series of Letters to My Daughter from Fictional Characters. I was making progress and sailing right along, counting down the weeks until my daughter’s arrival, and then suddenly Eliana decided her time was now. Not in three weeks, not when we’d scheduled the c-section for our stubborn breech baby, not on her April Fools due date, but NOW. (I have a feeling this might be a theme with Eliana. Her fussiness can go from zero to sixty in 1.5 seconds when she decides she needs something AT THIS VERY MOMENT. Or maybe, you know, that’s because she’s a baby…)

Thankfully, her timing wasn’t all bad. We’d finished our maternity photo session less than 48 hours before which also meant our best friends (the photographers) were staying at our house and got to be there for the birth. She also gave my parents just enough time to rush out of church and drive the two and a half hours up to the hospital.

This is all to explain why I disappeared so suddenly and haven’t been heard from for the past five months. I am still alive, though barely if you account for the fact that I haven’t had more than four consecutive hours of sleep since March 12th (we spent the night before Eliana’s arrival in the hospital, not sleeping).

Needless to say, writing has been… a challenge. And I know: I shouldn’t be worried about getting back into my writing routine or about how my finished novel has been left to moulder in a corner. I know I need to focus on caring for the new little life I have attached to me 24 hours a day, but as new moms will tell you, after surviving the first few months which, like a trial by fire, transforms you into someone you don’t recognize, you will do just about anything to get back at least a small vestige of your former self.

Don’t get me wrong, I most certainly prefer this version of myself, one that is more selfless, more patient, more tender (though I will admit, those things had to get worse before they got better- or at least until I’d had more sleep). But I’m also ready to have at least part of my writer-self back. I’ve been lucky enough to still make it to my every-other-Thursday critique group most meetings even if my submissions aren’t always new writing or even submitted in the first place. It’s enough just to put on real clothes and talk about something other than the rate at which my daughter poops or how many times she woke up last night. Doing something I love apart from motherhood is a way of taking care of myself.

So I hope to be back on the blog on a somewhat regular basis, maybe even continuing My 500 Word Challenge, though modified. I will leave you with a video of our first days in the hospital and some of my favorite newborn pictures, because let’s be real, she’s the best thing that’s ever happened and I can’t help myself.

Eliana’s Birth Day from Grain & Compass on Vimeo.

 

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Curled toesies

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Straight to the heart.

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“We’ve all got both light and dark inside us. what matters is the part we choose to act on. That’s who we really are.” -Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

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EXPECTO PATRONUM!!!

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Video and pictures by the talented, marvelous husband and wife team at Grain and Compass.

Letters to My Daughter

Letters to My Daughter

From Fictional Characters

New to this series? Check out my first post here.

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Ender Wiggin

Ender’s Game

Dear Eliana,

I hear you might be a little bit on the small side. You gave your mom quite a scare when the doctors measured you and thought you might have to arrive early. But now you’re measuring in the 18th percentile– healthy, just tiny.

Well, I know a thing or two about being small.

First off, people will underestimate you. Almost every time. So, surprise them. Some of the most important decisions ever made were made by people who go unnoticed. You just don’t hear about them as often. Skillful leadership has nothing to do with stature. When I got put on Bonzo’s squad, I found that leadership is better accomplished using quiet, but firm methods rather than with a lot of bluster and posturing.

Battle School taught me a lot and one of the most crucial lessons was to ask questions. Ask them when no one else will. And don’t be afraid of who you’re asking. Question the people in power, who have control, who outrank you. In fact, they might be the most important people to question of all.

Even more important was what I learned about empathy. I don’t think we can ever measure the full value that another person’s (alien or otherwise) perspective can bring to our understanding. “Those people” is a dangerous phrase. Everyone has a certain degree of light and dark. They say I’m the best balance between my compassionate sister Valentine and my violent brother Peter. But I know it all comes down to who I choose to be. I alone am responsible for my actions.

Yeah, you might be small, but I can already tell you’re tough. I think you’d make an excellent cadet.

Best of luck,

Ender

Like this post? Don’t forget to check out my other posts from this series under the Letters to My Daughter tag. Here’s the first post.

I’d love to hear from you! Like, share, and comment away!

 

My 500 Words Challenge: Week 1

I have made it through the first week of my challenge without falling flat on my face and I call that an accomplishment! First, here are my stats:

Day 1: 611 words/Blog post (My 500 Words Challenge)

Day 2: 503 words/Writing Workshop Exercise

Day 3: 523 words/Random reflections about the Oscars

Day 4:500 words/ Writing Workshop Exercise

Day 5: 652/ Writing Workshop Exercise

Day 6: 569/ Blog Post (Letters to My Daughter)

Day 7: 546/ Plot Treatment for my WIP (work in progress)

Total for the week: 3,904

What I’ve learned so far:

Having announced this on my blog did wonders for my accountability. Anytime I even considered slacking off for the night I remind myself that “people will knooow!” Maybe I should tell you all when I intend to do laundry or the dishes…

As I expected, writing in chunks of 500 words isn’t all that challenging in itself, it’s really the commitment to do it every day that has been tough for me.

On the other hand, knowing how many words I’m writing while I’m actually writing can actually put a damper on how much I write sometimes. If I know all I have to do is write 500 words, then I’m not as motivated to do more. In the long run though, I’ll have more cumulative words because I will have written MUCH more frequently. So I might cover my word count bar with a sticky note until I feel like I’ve done enough writing for the day.

I expect my word count to increase as I get used to my new routine. I also have a lot of writing projects going on at once (blog, final revisions on my novel, drafting a new novel, outlining the new novel, a writing workshop course I’m taking, etc.), so although I may not be getting as many words down in a sitting as I’m used to, I know that I’m getting a lot done in other areas of writing that can’t be counted by words.

Excerpts from this week’s writing:

My first blog post about this challenge was included in this week’s word count My 500 Words Challenge

My second Letters to My Daughter from Fictional Characters blog post was also included.

Here is a quick first draft (as in very rough draft) of a scene from my WIP:

The curtain went up with a silence that catches in my throat. The dark silhouette of the audience behind the blaring lights is somehow menacing tonight.

As if they are waiting for disaster.

Franco begins his intro and my stiff limbs are forced into motion. Carby could be anywhere in the theater– the front row, the balcony. He was here, I was sure of it. I tried scanning the audience, but couldn’t make anything out. Sarah hissed at me as I narrowly avoided a collision with her. There was sweat rolling down my back now.

I hated the not knowing part the most. Was he going to arrest me up here on stage or wait until the performance was over? He didn’t seem to be the waiting type to me, but then again, perhaps there would be less civilian involvement if he waited until the opera house cleared out. Unfortunately for him, I would be long gone if it came to that.

I hit my stage marks but Links knew something was off. I could see him watching me out of the corner of my eye. I tried to relax my shoulders. My part was coming up and I was determined to sing it without giving myself away.

Franco’s last note echoed to silence. I crossed to center stage and took my stance, one arm outstretched dramatically towards my lover. The violins took up the melody, soft and sweet. I took in one long steadying breath and began.

As the song filled my lungs, I felt steadier and steadier. Maybe it had all been nerves. Maybe he wasn’t here after all. I was getting too jumpy these days. I stole from people while they stood right in front of me. How could I possibly be losing my nerve now?

I was working my way up the trills to the climax when I saw it. A shadow, separating from the rest, walking down the far left aisle.

The shadow had a limp.

In that moment, my voice abandoned me. The music kept playing and the cast, frozen in place, eyes bulging, silently begged me to get a hold of myself. But the shadow limped closer and my traitorous voice would not follow my orders.

When it was obvious the man was making for the stage. An attendant walked quickly down the aisle after him. The audience was so wrapped up in my apparent fall from grace, they didn’t even notice what was going on in the aisle.

Bianca suddenly appeared on stage. She immediately took up the thread of melody that I’d lost and smiled at the audience like they were all in on a little joke together. When she turned, her face crumpled into a hateful glare at me. But I was paying her no attention. The man was within arm’s reach of the stage, but the lights still kept his face hidden from view. I would take no chances.

I started to inch myself sideways off the stage. I could still make a run for it. He didn’t know the maze of backstage like I did.

And that’s my wrap up for this week. Have questions, tips, or stories about your own writing experience? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

Letters to My Daughter

Letters to My Daughter

From Fictional Characters

New to this series? Check out my first post here.

Scout Finch

To Kill a Mockingbird

Hey Eliana. Scout here.

I hope you’re soaking up everything right now because growin’ up can be hard. It’ll happen to you eventually, whether you believe me or not. One night you’ll be catching fireflies in the summer heat and the next, wham! You’ll be hit hard over the head with the world the grownups have so successfully up ‘til now, kept you oblivious to.

And it’s not always nice, this new world, let alone fair. I think it’s best to let you know this now and not sugarcoat nothin’. The truth is always better in my books than a nice lie tied up with a bow. Sometimes, even when you do the right things, even when you follow the rules, even when you listen to the people in charge like they tell you, things can turn out wrong. That’s just how it is. But that doesn’t mean you should stop tryin’ to make it right. Actually, the worst thing you could do is give up just because something wasn’t fair.

And don’t think you’ll always have everyone on your side either. My daddy had the whole town just about against him at one point. But he kept fightin’. The people that really matter will have your back anyway, so don’t worry about the rest.

One more thing. You know that kid no one likes to sit next to? Or that neighbor that seems kinda weird? Have nothin’ but kindness for them. Don’t let folks have nothin’ but good to say about the way you treated them. Try and get to know them. There’s a lot more under the surface than you could ever know.

Well, I think that about covers it. Maybe don’t wear any big bulky costumes while walking home in the dark.

 

Love,

Scout Finch

 

Like this post? Don’t forget to check out my other posts from this series under the Letters to My Daughter tag. Here’s the first post.

I’d love to hear from you! Like, share, and comment away!

 

My 500 Words Challenge

The habit. It’s the one thing that can make or break a writer. Either you show up and sit down to write or you don’t. It really is as simple as that. And as complicated. With the explosion of writing communities all over social media, the ways in which we can fool ourselves into thinking we are being productive also expands.

Writers love to talk about writing. They love to talk about their process and their current WIP (work in progress). They love to tweet about how difficult it is to get the words out. They love to post instagrams of their notebooks, pens, laptops, and steaming coffee mugs. They love to declare #AMWRITING! (Read all of this really as “I” love… I am extremely guilty of every one of these things.)

But when it comes down to it, it’s just you and your blank notebook or screen. Only you really know how productive you’ve been, no matter what facade you’ve subconsciously built on social media. If you’re not putting words on paper consistently, you’re not going to get anywhere. You can keep chasing that dream of authorship all you want, but it won’t happen without the true sweat and effort that no one else sees.

I write this as a pep talk to myself as much as to anyone else. I struggle with consistency in my daily writing habit and I’m always looking for ways to improve. Now, with the impending arrival of my first baby, the stakes are even higher. If I let myself slide now, in the month before my due date, all chaos will break loose after she’s born.

“Don’t overdo it!” you say. “Be easy on yourself- this is your first baby.” Don’t worry. I know. Those precious first days and weeks with my newborn daughter are highest on my priority list. The most common remark I get at this stage? “Sleep while you can!” (which I find ironic, seeing as how the last trimester is usually when your ability to get a good night’s rest completely disintegrates). I plan on taking at least a full month off from a “work schedule” after she’s born.

But that itch to write, that groove of habit I’ve dug, must be there in the background and this is my last chance to dig it in deep. When I’ve found some semblance of “normalcy”, I’ll need to be able to jump back into writing even though my routine may look completely different. This is where My 500 Words Challenge comes in. The challenge is simply this: write 500 words every day, no matter what, for the next month. It can be a blog post, drafting, journaling, whatever. Just show up, get at least those 500 words down and go from there. Super simple. And simple is where it’s at right now.

500 words is not a lot. It’s really not very ambitious. But it’s the habit I’m concerned about more than the word count. I usually only write on the weekdays, so getting those weekend words will be more of a challenge. But most importantly, it feels doable enough to continue even after Eliana is born (though the actual challenge only lasts a month).

To hold myself accountable and share my experience with you, I’ll be posting weekly updates on my progress and include excerpts of what I’ve been writing with those 500 words a day. Want to join me in the challenge yourself? Comment below and link up over at Jeff Goin’s Blog to get started. You can begin your challenge on any day that you choose. I’ll also be tweeting updates with #my500words. I would love some company!

Letters to My Daughter

Some of you may know that I’m about to embark on the biggest adventure of my life thus far: becoming “Mom” to a little girl due on the first of April. I’ve never been a mom to anyone other than my two cats, so needless to say there is a LOT going through my mind these days.

As I started to build one of the most important aspects of the nursery, Eliana’s own little bookcase, I began thinking about all the lessons I’ve learned from fictional characters growing up, how much they’ve molded me and shaped my world view. I began wondering what lessons my own daughter might glean from some of my favorites.

That’s when a writing friend and critique partner had a brilliant idea- what if I wrote letters to my daughter while she was still young (or in this case, still in utero!) from the voice of some of my most beloved characters. I instantly took to this idea and all those fictional characters of my childhood began clamoring for my attention at once. Now I plan to make this an ongoing series here on the blog!

Letters to My Daughter

From Fictional Characters

hermione31

Hermione Granger

Harry Potter

Dear Eliana,

I hope this letter finds you well. I hear your mum is going to let you open it on your eleventh birthday, right after your acceptance letter from Hogwarts arrives. Though the list of required school books that will accompany your acceptance letter is a great place to start, I’ve attached my own list of recommended titles that should really round out your reading list.

I know what you must be worried about: the Sorting. It’s what every first year worries about but I promise it won’t be as bad as you think. I might be a proud Gryffindor, your mum, a Ravenclaw, but know that however you’re sorted, you have permission to strike out on your own brave path, finding that mix of qualities which make you who you are.

You might have thought I would give you advice about good study habits or the best quill to use for tests (eagle, for the record), but remember: books! Cleverness! There are more important things– friendship and bravery. Choose the people you surround yourself with wisely– friends who will remind you where the trick steps are and will distract Ms. Norris when you’re caught out of bed. Chances are you’re going to get into quite a few scrapes with them in the future and you don’t want to be stuck with the ones who trick you into eating the bogey flavored Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans.

As for bravery, stand up for your beliefs even when no one else will stand with you. Whether for the mistreatment of house elves (I’ll send you a S.P.E.W. button by owl!) or regulations for the thickness of cauldron bottoms, don’t give up! Your bravery will soon attract others.

I do hope you will find my advice to be helpful in the coming years. Good luck in all your endeavors and remember: when in doubt, go to the library!

Yours truly,

Hermione Granger