farewell, sophomore me

Last Wednesday, at the time my first Hot Takes post on Zootopia and Pride and Prejudice arrived in your inbox, I was getting ready for my last day of school.

This was a long-anticipated day. Our motto for the last few weeks has been “In May, when CC’s over and things calm down, we’ll do [you fill in the blank: hang out with friends, go to the park, that kind of stuff].” Because of the insanity that is the last few weeks of second semester, we haven’t had much time to do other stuff. Our family was looking forward to not having school hanging over our heads constantly.

But now that it’s over…I find myself missing it.

It was a hard year for us. We lost some dear friends, our beloved guinea pig Raisin, a horse that my sister loved named Dreamer, and my grandfather–the first grandparent I’ve lost. It was by far the worst year of my life in terms of deaths. There was (and still is) a lot going on in our house and our emotions. Writing about it is hard.

I take my school very seriously. I’ve always been one for academics, and I pride myself on staying on top of my schoolwork and learning as much as I can. My classmates frequently text and call me asking for help with Latin. It’s a status I don’t take lightly.

School grounded me this year. My wonderful classmates and director were so supportive and lovely. My grandfather passed away on the last day of first semester, and on the first day back, my classmates wrote me cards and gave me flowers and cake. We made treasured memories. I’ll never forget our spring formal or our first Lincoln-Douglas debate or the discussions we had.

my amazing class

I learned a lot about myself this year. It’s been a year of growth in many ways. I learned that classic literature really is my jam. I learned that my faith means a lot to me. I learned that procrastination is okay if you do it healthily. I learned that I always have something to give, and that I need to be careful that I don’t give too much.

It was an awesome year. I cried after I went to bed the night of my last day. I didn’t want to let it go. But I don’t have to.

My classmates and I live so far apart that I’m not sure if I’m going to see them much before the next school year. But we’ll stay in touch, and even if we don’t, we’ll always have the connection of the past year.

Farewell, sophomore me. You served your purpose. You hurt, you healed, you loved, you lived.

Now let it go and get ready for the next amazing year.

Love,

With minds that praise
And lips that sing
Eternal anthems
To our King,
With hearts that love
And hands that give,
This is how then
We should live.

hot takes: Zootopia and Pride and Prejudice

Hello, everyone, and welcome back to Quote, Unquote!

This week we’ve got something just a little different. That’s right, I’m starting a new series!

I was watching Zootopia the other day because I was sick and Zootopia is one of my comfort movies. While I was barely paying attention to the movie, something struck me, and I grabbed my phone and texted my friend:

Of course, her response was more along the lines of “you’re insane and there’s nothing I can do about it,” but I thought I was onto something, so I’m subjecting you all to it.

In the process of brainstorming for this post, I realized that there are a lot of movies that share a lot of events and themes of classic literature. So I’m making it a series. But for now, let’s just focus on the post at hand.

Anyway, obligatory disclaimer: If you have not watched Zootopia or read Pride and Prejudice, I would encourage you to do so before you read this post. It won’t make sense otherwise, plus there are going to be a million spoilers.

Let’s jump right in!

Zootopia plot summary

Rabbit Judy Hopps has become a police officer despite the astronomical odds against her, and she aims to go to Zootopia, “where anyone can be anything,” to make the world a better place. On her first day on the job, she is assigned to parking duty, while all the other officers are sent to handle the fourteen missing mammal cases. But a twist of fate finds her trying to track down one of the missing mammals, Emmitt Otterton. With a fox named Nick Wilde, she tracks Emmitt to an asylum, where all fourteen of the mammals are found, but they have gone savage.

She appears on a press conference, where a reporter maneuvers her into saying that they may have gone savage because of their predatory biology. Nick angrily storms away and Judy returns home, wracked with guilt. While she’s there, she figures out the reason all the predators have gone savage, and returns to Zootopia, where she reconciles with Nick.

Together, they apprehend the mastermind behind the whole plot, who turns out to be the mayor. Nick becomes Judy’s partner and the first fox on the ZPD.

Pride and Prejudice plot summary

(there are about a million things going on here, so I am just covering the main plot–Darcy and Elizabeth’s relationship)

Mrs. Bennet is desperate to see her five daughters married off, and the news that the wealthy Mr. Bingley has moved into the manor at Netherfield Park causes quite a stir. Mr. Bennet visits Mr. Bingley, and soon after they attend a ball at which Mr. Bingley is present. Mr. Bingley spends most of the evening with the eldest, Jane, but his friend, Mr. Darcy, refuses to dance with the second-eldest, Elizabeth, and this causes the other guests to view him as arrogant and obnoxious.

But over the next few weeks, at social functions, Darcy finds himself growing increasingly more attracted to Elizabeth. Elizabeth, however, is cold towards him, as another gentleman, Mr. Wickham, tells her how Darcy cruelly cheated him out of an inheritance. Later, Darcy proposes to Elizabeth quite rudely, shocking her. She declines it and reprimands him for disinheriting Wickham. Darcy leaves, but shortly thereafter sends her a letter explaining that Wickham lied to her. Elizabeth realizes how prejudiced she has been.

Long story short, one of Elizabeth’s sisters runs off with Mr. Wickham, and Darcy helps her family enormously with financial aid. Darcy proposes to Elizabeth again, much more kindly this time, and Elizabeth accepts and is married.

how are they similar?

Now, reading these two synopses, you’ll most likely be thinking, She’s insane. They’re nothing alike! And you would be right. I am insane. In some ways, they aren’t. Let’s count the ways:

Zootopia
  • action/adventure police story
  • anthropomorphic characters
  • recent technology, mannerisms, and customs
  • themes of leadership, doing what’s right
Pride and Prejudice
  • novel of manners, romance
  • human characters
  • Regency-era customs and manners
  • themes of reputation, gender roles, and class

But now, let’s take a look at how they are similar. I listed a few themes of each, but I failed to mention the most important one of both: prejudice.

In Zootopia, there is a lot of discrimination against predators, especially after Judy makes her statement in the press conference about biology. It’s actually kind of hard to watch these days–it hits too close to home after all the Black Lives Matter and race struggles going on today. Animals fight in the streets, and the police force is overwhelmed. Fear runs rampant.

In Pride and Prejudice, the prejudice is more at an individual level. Elizabeth is heavily prejudiced against Mr. Darcy after Mr. Wickham lies to her about the inheritance. She believes him to be a terrible person and acts cold and indifferent towards him. However, this prejudice is later solved after he clears it up and makes Elizabeth aware that Wickham was lying.

While they have their (large) differences, Zootopia and Pride and Prejudice, at their cores, are very similar. I thought this was kind of interesting, and hey, free blog content is free blog content. (Plus, this is good use for all the comparison essays I wrote this year.)

Let me know if there are any other similar movies and classics that you’d like to see in the future!

Until next time,

five ways you can support indie authors

Hello, everyone, and welcome back to Quote, Unquote!

Many authors, especially young authors, begin their career with indie publishing. Some later move on to traditional publishing, while others remain independent for the rest of their career. It’s up to the author whether they want to sign over their book to a publishing house or pursue independence with their writing.

In this post, I’ll be showing you five ways you can give back to the indie authors who worked so hard to get their book out into the world. Let’s go!

1. buy their book

This one is pretty obvious. Most indie authors make their living entirely off of their books, and it can take a lot of sales before they even break even on the investments they made on a cover designer or editor, much less make a profit. Buying their book helps them along in a monetary sense. Plus, they get the opportunity to touch your heart and soul with their book’s message, and hey, you get a new book! Who doesn’t love new books?

2. gift their book

If you read an indie author’s book and know someone else who would enjoy it, why not gift it as a birthday or Christmas gift? It doesn’t even have to be for an occasion! I would love it if someone randomly bought me a book they thought I would enjoy. This helps because not only are you buying their book and putting a few dollars in their pocket, you’re spreading the word to people who might then recommend it to others.

Alternatively, if no occasion is coming up, you could…

3. recommend their book

Even if you don’t have the budget for it (books are expensive!), recommending a book to someone you think will enjoy it will help the author reach new readers. One of the bigger downsides of indie publishing is that there’s no publishing house to supply marketing. Promotion can be an obstacle that indie authors face, due to not having a well-known corporation to back them up. It’s just them trying to put their book into the world. Recommending their book will help them overcome this and put their books in new hands.

4. follow their blog and/or social media and interact with it

Again, because indie authors don’t have a publishing house to back them up, their social media presence might be very small. And the real kicker here is “interact with it.” One thing I’ve recently learned about social media–YouTube in particular–is that it doesn’t matter how many subscribers you have if you’re not getting any views. If you’re following an indie author’s Instagram or Twitter or Facebook page, interact with what they post! Like their posts, leave thoughtful comments. Interaction is one of the best parts of being an author.

5. leave a review

I’ve saved the most important for last. Leaving a review on Amazon or Goodreads (or, frankly, anywhere it’s possible to leave a review) is possibly the most important thing you can do for an author. Let them know what you think of their book, even if you hated it. The more reviews a book gets, the more exposure it gets, the more readers it gets, and the more validation for the time and energy the author put into it it gets. That was a little confusing, but you catch my drift, right?

Indie authors work hard. They invest a lot into their books, and I’m not just talking about money. A lot of times, it’s just them against the cruel marketing world. (Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating a little bit.) But you, as a reader, can help them out in the smallest of ways, and I hope I’ve helped you see that.

Thank you so much for reading, and I’ll see you next Wednesday!

Until next time,

the “I’ll get around to it later” blog tag: my own answers

Hello, everyone, and welcome back to Quote, Unquote!

Two weeks ago I created my own blog tag, the I’ll Get Around to It Later tag. Because of Holy Week, I didn’t answer it immediately, but this week I’m giving you my own answers!

Sit back, grab a cup of tea, and enjoy.

the rules

  1. Link back to the original post at Quote, Unquote so the creator–that’s me!–can read your answers.
  2. Link back to the post of the person who tagged you and thank them. (Thank you, Me.)
  3. You may use the included graphic anywhere in your post, but you don’t have to.
  4. Fill all seven categories.
  5. You can either leave this tag open so anyone can do it or tag up to seven people.

the categories

a classic book that you have been meaning to read forever but haven’t yet

Emma by Jane Austen. I read Pride and Prejudice for school this year and loved it, so I’ve been meaning to read Jane Austen’s other books, but I want to buy them before I read them. Because I am broke, this hasn’t happened yet, so I haven’t read them yet. Emma is the first one on my list.

a book on your shelf that you haven’t read yet

This isn’t the best picture ever, but I found The Classic Illustrated Sherlock Holmes in my grandmother’s basement (risking life and limb in the process–I could tell you about some crazy stuff I’ve found in that basement). I’ve been wanting to read through these for a while but haven’t gotten around to it yet. I think it’s something I’m going to have to read little bit by little bit.

a book that you got recently that you haven’t read

I just bought The Summer of Broken Things from the thrift store! (Pro tip: If you’re looking for cheap books, thrift stores are your jam. Sometimes they can be a little marked up, but I also brought home a bunch of really cheap autographed copies last time I went.) That cover is so gorgeous (might I say…aesthetic?) and since I’ve enjoyed Margaret Peterson Haddix’s other books, I’m so excited to read this.

a book that you’ve had forever but haven’t read

I’ve owned this one since I was, like, twelve, but I haven’t read it. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s just because I’m not a big fantasy person? Whatever the reason, I do plan on reading it. Eventually. (I’m never reading it, am I?)

a book a friend recommended that you haven’t read

My friend Sarah loves the Ilyon Chronicles. I’ve wanted to read them for a while, but she’s warned me against starting them until the whole series comes out. They look pretty epic and I’m excited to read them, but for the sake of my sanity, I won’t. I will not have another Keeper of the Lost Cities situation on my hands.

a book you’re procrastinating on

I’d been procrastinating on The Hobbit before I was forced to read it for school this year. It wasn’t that bad, and I still kind of want to read the rest of the series, but honestly, it kind of scares me. At some point I will definitely read them. I’m just not sure when that point will be.

the next book on your TBR

This is the next (and final–woohoo!) book that we have to read for sophomore year! It’s about Mother Teresa, as you can probably see, and it looks like it’s going to be a good, thought-provoking book. I’m excited to read it and discuss it in class.

tags

Mia at Windows
Maya at Maya Joelle
The Grim Writer at The Grim Writer
Sarah at Sarah Jayne Photography
Merie at Imperial Scribis

That’s all for now! Thank you for reading, and feel free to steal this tag to do on your own.

Until next time,

hymns for Holy Week

Hello, everyone, and welcome back to Quote, Unquote!

This Sunday marks the beginning of Holy Week, the week of Jesus’s final moments and resurrection. It begins with Palm Sunday, with Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey; Thursday is Maundy Thursday (or, if you’re my dad, Monday Thursday), the day of the Last Supper; Good Friday, obviously, commemorates Jesus’s death; and we rejoice in his resurrection on Easter Sunday.

Holy Week is my favorite season of the church year, mainly because of the music. Every year, my church celebrates the four days with beautiful music. Our brass ensemble, choir, organist and music director, and handbell choir work tirelessly to rehearse and perform for God’s glory. So this week, as preparation, I’ll be sharing some of my favorite hymns.

Maundy Thursday

“When You Woke That Thursday Morning” LSB 445

John 13:1-9

1Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!”

Mark 11:1-11

Now when they drew near to Jerusalem, to Bethphage and Bethany, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately as you enter it you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat. Untie it and bring it. If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord has need of it and will send it back here immediately.’” And they went away and found a colt tied at a door outside in the street, and they untied it. And some of those standing there said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” And they told them what Jesus had said, and they let them go. And they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it, and he sat on it. And many spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut from the fields. And those who went before and those who followed were shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!”

And he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple. And when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.

Maundy Thursday

“When You Woke That Thursday Morning” LSB 445

John 13:1-9

Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!”

Good Friday

“O Sacred Head, Now Wounded” LSB 449

John 19:1-11

Then Pilate took Jesus and flogged him. And the soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head and arrayed him in a purple robe. They came up to him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” and struck him with their hands. Pilate went out again and said to them, “See, I am bringing him out to you that you may know that I find no guilt in him.” So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, “Behold the man!” When the chief priests and the officers saw him, they cried out, “Crucify him, crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and crucify him, for I find no guilt in him.” The Jews answered him, “We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die because he has made himself the Son of God.” When Pilate heard this statement, he was even more afraid. He entered his headquarters again and said to Jesus, “Where are you from?” But Jesus gave him no answer. So Pilate said to him, “You will not speak to me? Do you not know that I have authority to release you and authority to crucify you?” Jesus answered him, “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above. Therefore he who delivered me over to you has the greater sin.”

Easter Sunday

“I Know That My Redeemer Lives” LSB 461

John 20:11-18

But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her.

I hope you all have a blessed Holy Week!

Until next time,

the “I’ll get around to it later” blog tag

Hello, everyone, and welcome back to Quote, Unquote!

It’s been a while since I’ve done a blog tag, and I’ve missed them. I’ve decided to do one this week, except there’s a surprise: it’s totally original!

That’s right. This week I’ll be presenting to you a new and completely original blog tag created by yours truly: The “I’ll Get Around to It Later” Blog Tag. Let’s jump right in!

the rules

  1. Link back to the original post–this one right here!–so I can read your answers and support you. (Alt text for your own post: Link back to the original post at Quote, Unquote so the creator can read your answers.)
  2. Link back to the post of the person who tagged you and thank them.
  3. You may use the included graphic anywhere in your post, but you don’t have to.
  4. Fill all seven categories.
  5. You can either leave this tag open so anyone can do it or tag up to seven people.

the categories

  1. A classic book that you have been meaning to read forever but haven’t yet
  2. A book on your shelf that you haven’t read yet
  3. A book that you got recently that you haven’t read
  4. A book that you’ve had forever but haven’t read
  5. A book a friend recommended that you haven’t read
  6. A book you’re procrastinating on
  7. The next book on your TBR

That’s all for now! I’m not doing this tag myself just yet. I am planning to after Easter–I already have a post planned for next week–but you can go ahead! I’m not tagging anyone, so just feel free to use it on your own blog.

I hope you have fun!

Until next time,

mini book reviews

Hello, everyone, and welcome back to Quote, Unquote!

It’s been a while since I’ve done a book review since abandoning my previous structure. I decided that that was a problem. (Also, I’m running out of post ideas.) So this week I’ll be introducing you to some of the books I’ve read so far this year.

I’ve begun keeping a reading log in my Notion, and so far I’ve actually been keeping up with it (there’s a shocker). I’ve finished 28 books total this year, four of which were rereads, and that’s not counting the ones I’ve picked up and then decided to quit for no reason. I’ll be reviewing five of them in this post, so let’s hop right in!

Beyond the Mapped Stars by Rosalyn Eves

Beyond the Mapped Stars is a historical fiction story (with a tiny bit of romance) about a Mormon girl, Elizabeth, who loves the stars. One day, she wants to be an astronomer, but there’s a small problem with that: her parents want her to be married. The story follows Elizabeth as she finds out who she is beneath the stars.

I loved this book. I felt like Elizabeth’s inner monologue was portrayed in a very historical accurate way. The characters were compelling, and her story was gripping. Overall, a very enjoyable book.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Into the Raging Sea by Rachel Slade

Have you ever heard of the El Faro? I hadn’t, either, until I read this book. It combines transcripts from the doomed ship’s log and research together to create a lifelike narrative you wouldn’t believe is real.

This book gripped me. It was horrifying, yet so well-written that I couldn’t stop reading. I would give it a minor content warning for language (they are sailors, after all), but overall, very well done and respectful to the memory of the crew.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis

Have you ever wanted to be utterly called out for all the things you didn’t know Satan was doing to you? Well, then this is the book you need! This is an epistolary novel written from the point of view of a senior demon, one of Satan’s underlings. He’s writing to his nephew all about how to trick humans into turning from God and following Satan.

I have to say, this book was rather dark. I’m glad I waited as long as I did to read it. That being said, it is excellent, and I think it’ll be one of those books where I learn something new every reread.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Lucy Clark Will Not Apologize by Margo Rabb

Mystery abounds in this contemporary young adult novel. Lucy Clark has been bullied one too many times, and eventually she retaliates. But then she gets sent to live with an eccentric woman who believes she is being poisoned! This quirky, magical novel follows Lucy as she attempts to figure out who the culprit is.

Usually, I’m not one for mystery, but I couldn’t stop reading. It was well-written and I enjoyed the characters. Plus, just look at that cover! Isn’t it beautiful?

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Educated by Tara Westover

Tara Westover’s parents didn’t believe in school. They didn’t believe in the government–most of their children didn’t even have birth certificates. So Tara lived her entire life in the mountains of Idaho never having set foot in a school in her entire life. Educated recounts her story of going to college and finally receiving what she was entitled to all along.

This book is quite possibly one of the saddest things I’ve read in a long time. It made me ache for Tara and the things she went through. It made me realize how lucky I am to have such a good education. Overall, it made me feel horrible, which is a testament to how good it was. Content warnings for language, violence, and the occasional sexual reference.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

As you can see, I’ve been reading a wide range of genres so far this year. It helps to keep track of them all!

Have you read any of these books? What was your favorite book that you’ve read this year?

Thank you for reading, and I’ll see you next Wednesday!

we made it through winter + plans for the springtime

Guys…it’s over. We did it. Hallelujah. (If you live in a northern area, you know what I’m talking about.) Now it’s time for allergy season! Yay!

We’ve nearly finished the first quarter of the year, and it’s time for me to set some seasonal goals. You know the drill. Let’s get right into embarrassing myself.

goals from winter

1. read more books about writing and apply the techniques to my own works

I will give myself half a checkmark on this one. I did receive K. M. Weiland’s Structuring Your Novel for Christmas and started it, but I still haven’t read through the whole thing yet. What I did read, I am applying, hence the half a checkmark.

2. finish Unwritten, or at least get to 50K words

Nope. Barely touched it. I’m sad about that, because I do love the story, but for some reason my main character is irrationally irritating me. I will finish the draft, I promise.

3. finish my first big-picture edit on Shadows of Dreams

I did this one! If you’re on my email list, you already know this. I finished my first alpha edit! It’s all in chapter format now, as opposed to the shorter snippets it used to be in. I closed up some gaps and filled in some missing scenes. It’s looking better by the day.

goals for spring

1. finish another edit of Shadows of Dreams

I really want to get this manuscript done. I have a couple of alphas looking over it now (thanks, guys!), and hopefully I’ll be able to make it even better with their input.

2. make significant progress on Unwritten

This is vague, I know, but it’s vague for a reason. Springtime is usually insanely busy, school-wise, so I’m not sure how much time I’ll be able to spend on this. I’m aiming for at least another 10K words. It shouldn’t be that hard. (Famous last words, am I right?)

3. post more writing on the blog

I don’t think I’ve posted a short story or anything since last May, so I aim to get around to that a few times a month. Let me know what kind of stories you’d like to see!

4. learn how to improve productivity by getting distracted less

I’ve been struggling to focus and getting distracted more and more lately. It’s not great, to say the least. I want to research some tips and techniques to focus more and get more done. If you have any, please let me know.

That’s all for now! What are you guys planning to do this spring?

Until next time,

my favorite fictional heroines

Hello, everybody, and welcome back to Quote, Unquote!

I’m, ahem, borrowing this post idea from Merie Shen over at Imperial Scribis. She just recently did a blog post about her top four fictional heroines, and my brain went, “Ooh! Idea!” So, sorry, Merie, but take this as a compliment. It means you had a good idea.

This week I’ll be sharing some of my favorite fictional heroines and how they inspire me. So let’s go!

5. Rose Dawson

photo from Titanic (1997)

Rose DeWitt Bukater, played by Kate Winslet in Titanic (1997), is a high-society heiress destined to be married to an abominable man named Cal. She’s travelling aboard the doomed ship Titanic and while on board falls in love with a third-class passenger, Jack Dawson. I’m sure you all know the main plot of the movie, and if you don’t, FIX THAT. (Her name change happens at the end of the movie.)

Anyway. Rose inspires me because she is a go-getter. During the movie, she changes quite a bit from a passive young woman to someone who goes after what she wants. Also, she is quite witty and quietly fierce when she needs to be. And even though she went through a horrendous tragedy, she built her life successfully while still never forgetting the lessons it taught her.

4. Hermione Granger

photo from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (2010)

This list wouldn’t be complete without everyone’s favorite fantasy heroine, wouldn’t it? I know it’s kind of a cliché, but Hermione is deserving of the praise.

Hermione Granger is smart; everyone knows that. But the thing about Hermione being smart is throughout the series, she goes from being an infamous, insufferable know-it-all to using her incredible smarts to help those around her. Think Dumbledore’s Army or her infinite-capacity beaded bag she carried in Deathly Hallows. Hermione embodies how I want to not just be smart, but use my smarts.

3. Stargirl Caraway

photo from Stargirl (2020)

Now, obviously I’m talking about the book Stargirl, not the movie Stargirl, but I just needed a good picture of her, and that one works. Plus, Cinnamon. (Even though he’s supposed to be BROWN. I can’t believe Jerry Spinelli let that slip.)

I’ve talked about Stargirl a lot on my blog, and for good reason. She’s an odd duck. Stargirl wears long pioneer dresses, plays the ukulele in public, and carries a rat on her shoulder. In the town where she lives, that’s totally unheard of–but she does it anyway. She embodies how I want to be myself, be individual and original, even when circumstances are trying to make me conform. She is infinitely inspirational.

2. Jo March

photo from Little Women (2019)

If you know any classic literature at all, you know of the March sisters. They are the “Fantastic Four” of literature, and they deserve it.

Really, I see bits of myself in every March sister, but Jo resonates with me especially. First of all, she’s an author, which, come on, hello? Me. Also, though she isn’t the oldest, she is sort of the “man” of the house when Mr. March is away, bearing the brunt of her sisters’ fears on her shoulders. As someone who carries a lot of relational weight on my own shoulders, that aspect of her reminds me of myself.

1. Jane Eyre

photo from Jane Eyre (2011)

I haven’t actually seen this movie, but this picture pretty much fits the mental image of her I have in my head. (If you have seen this movie, let me know! Is it worth my time?)

The thing I love most about Jane is her passion. Though she appears quiet and reserved sometimes, in heated moments, she can fly out. I am a very passionate person in many ways, and I see a lot of her in me, in the way I tend to kind of swing back and forth between fire and ember.

Thank you so much for reading! Do you think these fit me? Who are some heroines that remind you of yourself?

Until next time,

“Ordeal by Cheque” and other storytelling masterpieces

The other day, I was on a call with my friend, and she was telling me about a story she was reading in school–“Ordeal by Cheque” by Wuther Crue. If you haven’t already read it, you can check it out here. I highly recommend printing it out and annotating things you find interesting.

Please take a moment to read it, because the rest of this post will be full of spoilers. It’s meant to be read left column down, then right column, on every page. Go through it carefully–note things that seem out of place, read it a few times to let it sink in. Notice something new each time.

Ready? Okay. Here we go.

“Ordeal by Cheque” was written in 1932 by Wuther Crue (that’s unfortunate. Imagine going through life with a name like Wuther) and first published in the Vanity Fair magazine. The story is told entirely in the form of checks (or cheques, if you prefer). At first, it looks confusing, but as you go through it a few times, you start to notice things.

I’m giving you one last chance to go look at the story right now. What follows is entirely spoilers, and even if you just glance over the story and then read the summary, that’s better than nothing.

Here goes….

The first check is written in 1903 to “Goosie Gander Baby Shoppe” by a man named Lawrence Exeter. Two checks later, we see that “Sr.” is added to Exeter’s signature, telling us that he and his wife had a baby boy. Lawrence Exeter, Jr. grows up in luxury, attending a private school for boys and then later a military academy.

In 1923, a check is written to a Miss Daisy Windsor. Several consecutive checks for florists, jewellers, steamship companies, and other such luxurious matters follow. It’s unclear as to exactly who Miss Daisy Windsor is, but it is reasonable to assume that she is Exeter, Jr.’s fiancée. In late 1926, Lawrence Exeter, Sr. writes Lawrence Exeter, Jr. a large check for $200,000 USD (we can infer from the location printed on the checks that the Exeters live, unsurprisingly, in California). I did the math (well, I didn’t do the math, usinflationcalculator.com did it for me), and $200,000 in 1926 would be over $3,000,000 today.

That is the last check Exeter, Sr. writes (for now). The signature changes from then on to Lawrence Exeter, Jr. Over four years, he buys various luxuries for women–gowns, sweets, and the like. Then, on August 23, 1929, a check is written to an unfamiliar name: Tony Spagoni.

Who is this Tony Spagoni? We’re not entirely sure, but the name led me and my friend to believe that he was definitely Italian and quite possibly a mobster. Exeter, Jr. writes him two checks in a row, then another few to more luxuries.

But then–and this is where it gets interesting–he writes a check for a considerable sum to a Miss Flossie Wentworth. Then there’s a smaller one to an attorney, and then another large sum to Mrs. Lawrence Exeter, Jr.–who we can assume is no longer Mrs.

From there, it all goes downhill. We can see that Lawrence Exeter, Jr.’s handwriting starts deteriorating, getting sloppier and shakier. He sends an enormous amount of money to a Marie Wharton Exeter, who could be his mother, then to two other law firms. There are two more checks to the mystery Tony Spagoni, each for the same amount of money, and one to a Peter Ventizzi, who’s never come up before but also has a strangely Italian-sounding name.

All of this–the supposed divorce, the law firms, the checks to Tony Spagoni–happens in a very short period of time, between November 14, 1930 and July 3, 1931. The last of Exeter, Jr.’s checks are written on three consecutive days–July first through third. And then, all of a sudden, the handwriting switches.

The last three checks are written in Exeter, Sr.’s neat cursive. One to the hospital where his son was born. One to the same doctor who was at the beginning of the story. And one to a mortuary.

The real kicker? In the penultimate check, the signature is “Lawrence Exeter, Sr.”–but the Sr. part is crossed out. In the last one, the Sr. is omitted entirely.

Something happened to Lawrence Exeter, Jr., but because of the unconventional narrative and the gaps in the timeline, we don’t know exactly what it is.

This story is a masterpiece. The first time my friend and I went through it together, I had to pick my jaw up off the floor. Who ever would have thought of telling a story entirely through checks? That’s genius! And the ways Crue told the story through the handwriting and the little nuances as well…it is just an amazing piece of literature.

I challenge you now, fellow writers, not to read this story and think, I could never write like this. I challenge you to instead look at it and ask yourself, “How can I write an unconventional story that will grip people a hundred years from now?” That is the lesson we should be taking away from real pieces of literature.

Until next time,