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A group blog by prefects.

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Prefects Fall Writing Challenge Results | December 7th, 2018

Prefect Fall Writing Challenge: [Insert Name Here] Results The entries were spooky, pumpkin-filled and autumnal. From urban legends about Hogwarts staircases to funerals to Greek myths, the entries to the Prefect Fall Writing Challenge had it all! If you haven't read all the entries, we highly recommend you do: @Chelts-rhj Queen of the Underworld  -  Prompt: Myths and Legends @Amortentia1992 In The Forest (M)  -  Prompt: Halloween/Autumn @Finefrenzy__ Eyes Like Steel (M)  -  Prompt: Halloween @Chemical_Pixie Trick Step (T) - Prompt: Myths and Legends, Autumn @northbound24 A Halloween Wake - Prompt: Halloween @potionspartner The Sound of Sacrifice (T) - Prompt: Pumpkins (Autumn) @juls Ghost in the Attic (M) - Prompt: Myths and Legends @Diogenissa Hollow Fences (M) - Prompt: Myths and Legends @Alwynse Pie-Eating Barbarian - Prompt: Autumn @TreacleTart Aguardiente - Prompt: Myths and Legends @StarFeather Chaos Around a Ginkgo Mountain - Prompt: Autumn   However, there can only be three winners! They are as follows... [drum roll] 🥁 Third Place Pie-Eating Barbarian by @Alwynse Prize: Award Graphic, PicSpam related to your entry, WJ Questions Alwynse writes about a fun fall festival where Lily Evans agrees to go out with James Potter only if he wins the annual Pie-Eating Contest. Marlene plays a great antagonizer of Lily about her true feelings for James. This is a cute, fluffy piece great for a quick pick-me-up!   Second Place The Sound of Sacrifice by @potionspartner Prize: Award Graphic, PicSpam related to your entry, WJ Questions, One (1) Additional Review Barbara puts a twist on the purpose of those ever-present pumpkins during Halloween and the autumn season. This story follows the life and sacrifice of one of Hagrid's giant pumpkins during Harry's third year at Hogwarts. The pumpkin takes its sacrifice as the reason for Harry being able to continue his journey to defeat Voldemort, which is a nice touch for something most people consider to be a background element to the plot in Prisoner of Azkaban that gets the spotlight.    First Place  Aguardiente by @TreacleTart Prize: Award Graphic, PicSpam related to your entry, WJ Questions, Customizable About Me Dividers, Feature in the Prefect Blog Kaitlin weaves a tale of a young man walking alone through the streets of Quito, Ecuador late at night. He has memories of his aunt telling him of a ghost story about the Guagua auca, a demon that takes the form of a baby. As he moves along and remembers more of what she told him, the streets get more and more eerie and deserted, and he begins sobering up. His senses heighten as do the readers' until the climactic ending. Her use of a true myth from Ecuador illustrates Kaitlin's knowledge of other cultures and draws upon it for this beautifully written story.    Congratulations to our winners and all of our participants! Your participation reviews will be coming soon.  Prize winners can contact a Prefect about what story they would like their additional review(s) on! @TreacleTart please contact @Rumpelstiltskin about how you'd like your About Me Dividers to be customized if you'd like them. Please rehost and credit @facingthenorthwind for all prize graphics. 




In the Spotlight | November 23rd

Welcome to the November '18 issue of In the Spotlight -- your monthly recap of achievements, complete with extras and interviews from all the wonderful people we've recognized this month. We have for you all the usual suspects (Order of Merlin, Story of the Month, and more) as well as the brand new Monthly Dilemma for you all to answer AND last month's drawn winner. Thank you to everyone who submitted an entry in the Prefect's Autumn Writing Challenge! We have had a marvellous time reading all your entries and should have results back to you relatively soon. Until then, sit back, relax with a hot beverage, as we bring in some of the coldest parts of the year.     The November Order of Merlin was awarded to the one and only @galadriel! Nim is a wonderful force of enthusiasm that has descended upon HPFT. She has been so kind as to entertain us all with a few interview questions! How long have you been a part of the Harry Potter fanfiction community?
Ah, I think I ventured into the world of fanfiction back in 2013 and joined the HPFT forums in 2016 when it was brand new. I went on hiatus in 2017 though and found my way back in 2018 - so that's about 4-5 years of being a part of the community. 
What is your favourite part about working behind-the-scenes?
I love being on the other side during events! It's so great to see the different ways in which each of the housesapproach the tasks and the fun that everyone has. I also love the feeling of satisfaction I get from being able to give back in some way to a community that's been a huge part of my life over the last few years. 
Favourite type of fanfiction to read/write?
Angst angst angst. Minor characters, mishaps, murder, suspense, interesting sub-plots! Anything that hits me with all the feels. 
What is your OTP?
I... don't think I have one? I like some pairings more than others, but I'm not opposed to reading anything as long as it's written well. I'm currently shipping Hermione/Neville so, SO hard though so if anyone has recs, send them my wayplease ! 
What is your favourite non-HP fandom?
I'm going with my top three - Merlin, Doctor Who andLoTR - because it's too difficult to pick just one. 
What are three of your favourite writing locations?
My little writing corner at home is my top favourite because I've set it up in a way that it induces creativity, with paintings and posters all around it, and the wall adjacent to my desk is covered with bookshelves. When I want a change of scenery, I usually go to a little bookstore nearby - the coffees they serve are all delicious and they have a space for writers and students to sit and work so I tend to have interesting conversations with people there. My third haunt is an outdoor cafe for when I don't want to be within four walls and it also satisfies my caffeine needs. 
If you HAD to cut one of your characters out of one of your stories, who would it be and why?
Gosh this is SUCH a difficult question. Umm. I'd go with Jamila, one of the minor characters in the novel I'm writing. While I like her and wouldn't want to cut her out, she's not as important as the other characters and cutting her out wouldn't lead to major holes in my story.      This November, we recognized @teh tarik's To Boil Telephone Porridge | 煲電話粥 [M]. We have featured this story in our In the Spotlight in the past as both the winner of the Spring Quarter Prefect Challenge as well as for winning a Story of the Month title for Slytherin House's monthly awards. As such, it is with great pleasure to see this story featured as sitewide Story of the Month. R E V I E W   C O L U M N As stated above, this story has run miles across the HPFT Forums and our hearts, so much so that it has been recognized for its glory on a number of levels. If you haven't read To Boil Telephone Porridge, I cannot emphasize enough to click the above link. The plot follows the life of Daniel, his journey to discovering himself, and how he is shunned by his family and society in doing so. It explores Malaysian politics and society and what role they have in negatively impacting the LGBTQ community as well as what kind of impact an ostracising family can have in life and relationships. Most importantly, it explores self-acceptance, external acceptance, and allowing forgiveness.  This story has such a strong message weaved throughout its depths. It is truly a pleasure to read and absorb.      November also brought in two new Head Students with it! We recognize @WriteYourHeartOut and @potionspartner for their incredible feats on the Forums and the Archives, who have a knack for spreading that sense of wholeness and community that HPFT is known for. We had the opportunity to ask them some fun questions and they, in turn, bestowed upon us some wonderful answers.    T A N Y A ' S   I N T E R V I E W Why did you pick the House you are in?
I always get sorted intoeither Hufflepuff or Ravenclaw when I take sorting quizzes, and I do feel pretty evenly split between the two, but I think the reason I always choose Hufflepuff over any of the other houses is simply because Hufflepuff's are who I, at the end of the day, aspire to be like. I don't always feel like a good Hufflepuff, but calling myself one anyway keeps me consistently trying to be a better person. If there’s one story of yours you would like to tell us about, what would it be and why?
Unsurprisingly, I would say Lying Josephine [M]. It's been my baby for eight years, and it's very close to my heart. Even though I'm terrible at actually getting myself to write it, I'm really attached to the characters and the story line and the relationships and all of it. I wish I could just finish writing it already, because I love where it goes, and I have a handful of really wonderful and loyal readers who I desperately want to share the full story with and see their reactions and talk about these secret moments I've had planned for so many years. Someday it will happen! Tell us your favourite joke.
It's cute that you'd think it would be something appropriate for this site. What’s the most expensive thing you’ve ever broken and how did you break it?
My mom's van. I was camping with some friends, and I guess the sound we all heard the engine making meant it needed oil... And I also guess you shouldn't drive two hours without any... But how were a group of teenage musical theatre nerds supposed to know that?! What character would you like to trade places with for a week, if you had to choose one?
Janet from The Good Place, probably. She knows all the things! Like. Every unanswered question about my life I would suddenly just know. (Which is both amazing and terrifying, but totally worth it.) What was your favourite TV show growing up?
I really loved Hey, Arnold! as a kid. And as a teenager, probably Dawson's Creek. Hard to choose, though, cause I grew up in the90's, and everything was the best then.   B A R B A R A ' S   I N T E R V I E W Why did you pick the House you are in?
Because Claws are the best! I love random facts just for the sake of knowledge. People at work often roll their eyes at me because of my "gifted" answers to questions. A few weeks ago, we actually took a Harry Potter personality test as part of a training exercise. The asinine computer tried to tell me I was a Slytherin. I was so horrified that I refused to when they asked us to stand up when our house was called. (Not that I have anything against Slytherins. It just isn't me. I always get caught when doing even slightly questionable things.) 

If there’s one story of yours you would like to tell us about, what would it be and why? 
That's a hard one. I've only been writing for just under a year, but my works are fairly varied: slow-burn, tohumor, to psychological thriller. My main characters are everything from the expected to the obscure HP characters to pumpkins and cows. However, I guess I'll pick: I Hate Multi Colored Days. I wrote it for the Unreliable Narrator Challenge. It's looking at the challenges of having autism from a little boy's perspective. It's also an autobiography of my family.  If you know anyone who has autism, I encourage you to read it.

What is your favourite emoji? 
Emojis? Those are those cute little faces everyone adds to their sentences instead of periods, right? Just kidding. I've tried to use them occasionally but have spent less than 0.001% of my brain power contemplating them. I've seen some people use one hiding behind a sofa. That one is cute. 

If you were magically transported into a movie, which movie would you prefer it to be?
Definitely a Jane Austen romance: Emma, Pride and Prejudice or Sense and Sense ability.  HP comes in second place.  

Name one mythical creature you wish actually existed. 
House Elves. I hate cleaning my house.

If you were moving to a foreign country but could only pack four [4] items, what would they be? 
1. Bottled water. I don't like carbonated water some countries thrive on.  2. Chick-fil-A It's more American than apple pie  3. A soft pillow. Not that other countries don't have them, but you can never betocareful about getting a good night's sleep. 4. My family-although they would hate the move, I'm not leaving without them.   
\O/ This is where we all get to peek in each other's common rooms to help celebrate their monthly achievements! Please put your hands together for these phenomenal members and stories.   Gryffindor House saw @Crimson Quill as their member of the month and @Sleepingbagonthesofa's Yaxley [M] as their story of the month! They have both been so kind as to entertain us with some responses to interview questions!    A B B I ' S   I N T E R V I E W Give us your best House Pride shoutout! 
what can I say? our bunch are loud, proud and slightly insane.  What is your favourite activity/event/thing you hold in your House? Why? 
I love that our common room has been so lively currently! they have been introducing lots of stuff recently, I love RvG. I always have a lot of fun reviewing and I think reviewing is a great way to encourage writers and it's nice to be giving love to my fellow housemates so it's a nice game to little push to review more too.  If animals could talk, which one would be the most annoying?
I feel like it would be a dog, that sounds mean but I think they would always want your attention or need something so they wouldn't leave you alone which can be good thing for some people or just not for me. If you could go anywhere in the world (no matter the cost) where would it be and why?
Somewhere I could see Elephants in their natural habitat so India or Kenya..something like that    D E N I ' S   I N T E R V I E W Give us your best House Pride shoutout!  I present to you... This tweet that I stole off the Gryffie Group Chat! (And thank you to Sam who tweeted this, allowing me to be very lazy months later!  ) What is your favourite activity/event/thing you hold in your House? Why?
The Common Room was has been so busy recently are there are so many things to choose from! It's quite small but every month Gina includes a game in Printed with Pride, I love having a go and seeing what everyone else's answers and results were. It's such a nice wee thing to look forward to.   What was the last song you sung along to?
Africa by Toto.  If you were given an unlimited amount of money to open a museum, what kind of museum would it be?
I would have a museum containing all of the socks, hairpins and pens that I've lost over the years along with cards that would tell me where the hell I lost them in the first place.    Hufflepuff recognized the wonderful @Dojh167's Pretty Little Thing this November as their housewide story of the month!    Ravenclaw recognised the lovely @Margaret as their member of the month and @Chelts-rhj's Queen of the Underworld as their in-house story of the month!    M A R G A R E T ' S   I N T E R V I E W Give us your best House Pride shoutout!
I'm not fully sure what this is asking (and I'm sure I'm missing something obvious).  What is your favorite activity/event/thing you hold in your House? Why?
Probably the Nargles. It's great to see all the stories that get nominated and perhaps learn of some excellent stories you'd overlooked. And, of course, it's amazing to have one of your own stories nominated for an award. What is your least favorite trope/cliche?
Falling in love solving everything and/or the plot just being a device to get two people together. I'm not a fan of romance anyway, but it particularly irritates me when I'm reading a really interesting premise and it turns out the whole thing is just a device to get two characters together and the whole plot is forgotten or tied up quickly in order to focus on the romance. Or when a character has a serious problem like PTSD from the war and then falls in love and is instantly cured. What was the last thing you Googled?
Well, I googled this site to come on here, but the last thing I went looking for information on may have been the new philosophy short course in the new Junior Cert. syllabus.   C H E L T S ' S   I N T E R V I E W Give us your best House Pride shoutout!
‘Claw Pride!! Thank you to all the super smarty pants that support me and my random writing capabilities! Couldn’t do it withouty’all.  What is your favorite activity/event/thing you hold in your House? Why?
While I don’t often put my ideas in, I really like ‘think pink’. I mean, I’ve been agonizing over “Bottle death and brew glory at sea” for weeks now. It’s what I doodle on my yellow notepad when I’m pretending to be working.  What is your favorite scent?
LAVENDER! Omg. I have this lavender eucalyptus candle form the renfaire I work at during spring. It never lasts me all year. Pick a month and give it a tagline!
September- Voir la vie en rose, one leaf at a time.    Slytherin saw the lovely @juls as their member of the month and @Rumpelstiltskin's We, Lawbreaking Citizens [M] as their in-house story of the month.   J U L S ' S   I N T E R V I E W
Give us your best House Pride shoutout!  First off, I just want to thank my Slytherin family for voting me as 'Snake of the Month'. That just tickled me to death (in a good way, I assure you.) I love how welcoming everyone has been since I've joined. I'm so happy I took Elena's advice to come here.

What is your favorite activity/event/thing you hold in your House? Why?
I'm going to have to say the 'Count to Ten before the Staff Interrupts'. I think I'm the cause for it being bumped up to '15'. Sorry!!! We did get quite a few wins, and I rather enjoyed the camaraderie of it all.Hopefully it picks back up after NaNo. Another - the Review Swap thread. None of us can EVER get enough reviews. Or give enough reviews. Enjoying each others prides and joys just brings us all closer. And, of course, the Basilisk Bodega. Where we all just climb in our baskets with our plushies, blankets, drink of choice and just chat away. What would be a perfect day for you?
A perfect day for me is a nice cup of coffee (hot or iced), a book to read and some time to write. OR - going somewhere special with my boyfriend and having fun. Gatlinburg is our close place of choice. So much to do there. We haven't even gone to one of the dinner shows yet. But we did go to 'The Titanic' for my birthday one year. If you could have any super-power/magical ability, what would it be and why?
My friend, Mandy, had a character once ask one ofcharacters, if I would want to fly or be invisible. I picked invisible. I still would. It's a lot easier to not to be noticed in life. Be in the background. I was a shy person back when, and I hated to have to speak in class. I even quit violin when I found out we had to do a recital in front of the school. I'm a bit more outgoing than I was back then - but, not by much.
R U M P E L ' S   I N T E R V I E W Give us your best House Pride shoutout! 
Go, SlytherWIN!  Thank you, Snakes, for being a huge part of my life -- you're all a part of my family and I'm not sure what I'd do without you lovelies. #fraternity #familia #love #loyalty   What is your favorite activity/event/thing you hold in your House? Why?
There's a lot of places I love in the snake pit, but I think my mostfavorite thing is the Silver Quill (our quarterly newsletter). It's awesome to be able to explore the previous quarter of Slytherin achievement and celebrate with my housemates.   If there are only two types of people in the world, what are the two types?
Slytherins and Not-Slytherins. Describe your favorite time of day using only emojis. 🌠🌜🌉🦉🐐     If you aren't already aware, this is our recent blog addition -- the Monthly Dilemma! Each month we will be asking you a question and you can respond to each question by commenting in the corresponding blog post. Anyone who comments in the blog post with an answer to the question is put into a randomized raffle to win a little prize. You will have until the 15th of the following month to answer the question to be entered into the raffle. Winners will be announced in that month's Monthly Dilemma section. Last month's raffle winner is @Pixileanin! Congratulations, you have won -- one free review! Please contact a Prefect to let us know where you'd like it.  This month's dilemma is: what is the most overrated holiday food?  You have until December 15th to answer!  This month's winner will receive one [1] free review on a story of your choice.  _________________ credits:
graphics [headers/dividers] -- deni
monthly dilemma drawing & question -- sarah
interviewers -- madi, deni, sarah, nix, rumpel
review column -- rumpel | prefect reviews -- nix
layout -- rumpel

NaNo Helpline

With the NaNo season already well underway, your Prefects would like to present The NaNo Helpline !  Over the past month, we've asked you wonderful people to send in some of your burning questions to be answered. We've also contacted a couple members of HPFT who are highly experienced in the ways of NaNo to give some advice for any new/returning NaNo participants. To tie things off, some of us decided to share some stories of our personal NaNo experiences with you, so that you can learn from our mistakes and victories. We hope you enjoy! We asked you to send us questions, and now we are answering them! Hang on tight!  Dear Prefects, I fear I may have to sever ties with those who insist coffee is the superior caffeinated beverage. How do I correct the error of their ways (because tea is clearly superior) while maintaining these friendships? Sincerely, Tea is Best. while us coffee and tea drinkers may have our differences, i think the important thing here is that we're all united against the real enemy here: those freaks of nature who somehow function with no caffeine whatsoever. -taylor Why isn't that an option for Race to the Death... We would be a united force against the functional humans?!  - Deni Some of us drink both tea and coffee....because either way I get caffeine! It's gotta be a slow correction -- almost imperceptibly keep offering them tea (with a variety of flavors to choose from) whenever you are with them and make them try a different kind each time. This should make them warm up to drinking tea subconsciously. After a sufficient amount of time has passed, the next time they ask for coffee at your place, tell them you're all out but you do have some strongly caffeinated tea they are more than welcome to have instead. They'll still be your friend, and you'll have converted them over to tea in what seems like no time! - Madi Coffee, coffee, coffee, coffee, coffee, coffee, coffee, coffee, coffee, coffee, coffee -- coffeecoffeecoffeecoffee coffeecoffeecoffeecoffeecoffeecoffeecoffeecoffeecoffeecoffeecoffeecoffeecoffeecoffeecoffeecoffeecoffeecoffeecoffeecoffeecoffeecoffeecoffeecoffeecoffee coffeecoffeecoffeecoffeecoffeecoffeecoffeecoffeecoffeecoffeecoffeecoffeecoffeecoffeecoffeecoffeecoffeecoffeecoffeecoffeecoffeecoffeecoffeecoffeecoffeecoffeecoffeecoffeecoffee. - Rumpels   Dear Prefects, I'm out of caffeinated tea. It's 2am and I'm coming up on a really intense scene. My eyes are itchy from lack of sleep, but my hands twitch from excitement. Do I go to bed or keep writing? Love, An under caffeinated and overstressed Nano Participant Dear U-C and OS NaNo Participant,  I have hit this point many a time (in fact, I was in this exact boat on Nov. 2nd just last week!). In this instance, I did end up writing out the next scene because then I was able to complete the chapter I've been unable to finish for months. In years past though, I've decided to jot down a couple notes about the scene, maybe a bit of dialogue I want to use, and then called it a night. In this case, if you're out of caffeinated tea and this upcoming scene is very intense, my recommendation would be to go to bed. Take a few notes, and then shut that computer off (or just close the laptop, you know) and sleep on it because then you can come back at it with a fresh brain the next day.  Love,  Madi Dear Prefects: The cursor keeps blinking on my blank MicroSoft Word document. How do I fill the page with words? Sincerely, Panicking Wordsmith Dear Panicking Wordsmith,  All that it takes to fill the page with words is a good attitude and a goal! Play that perfect playlist for the scene you want to write, or if it's a completely new story, pick something out that feels like it's the right fit for your idea. Keep a beverage close by (preferably tea or coffee, or water for hydration!) and just go for it! The first step is always the hardest when it comes to a blank document.  Sometimes if it's just not happening, a little diversion within the realm of reason is okay too! I usually go find some songs and collect them for how I want the scene to play out/characters to feel, and generally just look for inspo! Then once I feel okay about things again, I open up that document and start typing away.  Love, Madi
  Dear Panicking Wordsmith, If you can believe, it you can achieve it! Grab nice warm cup of coffee (or tea, I suppose 🙄) and settle in with your favorite playlist. The caffeine will fill you with energy and the playlist will have you inspired to write all the words. If you're still having trouble, I recommend treating yourself to a break. I'm partial to a nice Netflix binge. There's nothing like an episode of your favorite to show to make you feel loose and ready to roll. Or pinterest, to gather all sorts of random images related to your story and get those creative juices flowing again! Love, Sarah
How do you manage academia and NaNo without sacrificing the 50k goal? In the 5 years I've been doing NaNoWriMo, I've been in school (undergrad, and now graduate school). In my first year, I did attempt the 50k goal and what I can tell you is that it is going to be so very hard and challenging! But, it is possible. What I tried to do is just find a few minutes throughout the day during the week to get 100 words here and there. Then I would dedicate a half hour to an hour depending on the night to NaNo. Weekends, all NaNo, baby! I didn't quite make it to 50k, but I got to 42k, so it is totally doable. If you think about it like it's your stress relief from school, it becomes a lot easier! Love,  Madi  
If your NaNo goal is to complete a fic, and your word count is going up but your fic is also getting insanely longer, how do you prune it shorter? This is something I usually don't struggle with during non-NaNo events, but I have realized it is an issue, so thank you for bringing it up! Often what I do is just get words on the page so that I stay on track with my goal for the month and don't worry about the number of words. Then when I have a bit more time I go back to the chapter/one-shot/etc and comb through it for general edits and also scene edits -- are they necessary? do they seem to fit here or could they go elsewhere? can I just cut it completely? It's very much about the second-look editing process for me, but for others, they just go for it and don't worry about it being too long! Love, Madi   Turning your WIP into dialogue-only is certain to shorten your word count. Alternatively, you could try cutting out all dialogue all-together to the same effect  .  A more plot-driven way to achieve this is to simply kill off all of your characters in one go, which will end your story and therefore complete your NaNo goal, rendering you a champion of champions.  A final solution to your problem is to be conscious of your plot arch while writing, which can be a bit tricky in the fast-paced world of NaNo. Just keep asking yourself, "Is this important to the story? Does this matter? Will this 'event' move the plot along and ultimately aid in the story progression? Does this matter?''  You've actually set yourself a bit of a difficult goal here, as word counts can be trimmed during editing and any unnecessary fat can be removed. However, since you're racing against 30 days to complete a story of an unknown word count is a bit more difficult than setting a concrete word count in that regard. My best advice is to repeat the mantra, "is this important" and, if it isn't, skip it.  --Rumpels   Dear Prefects, NaNo is overshadowing my other responsibilities in life. How can I balance the thing I most want to do (NaNo) with things that I least want to do (RL responsibilities)? Yours truly, She-who-needs-to-sort-out-her-priorities Dear She-who-needs-to-sort-out-her-priorities, Life is all about balance! Try using NaNo as a reward. For example: I can only open this word document of the story that I just got an idea for once I've finished my laundry. If (or when) that doesn't work, then oh well, you do you, girl. Who needs clean underwear anyway? Love,  Sarah     
Dear Prefects, I have these amazing and wonderful, fully developed characters in my head. I've spent hours finding the perfect pictures and optimal settings for their picspams. Every time I make one, I think of more ideas for graphics. I'm worried that I'll be consumed by pictures and not by words for NaNo. What do I do? From, A Picspamming Procrastinator Dear Picspamming Procrastinator, A picture speaks a thousand words, right? Use your picspams as inspiration for that scene you just can't develop, that chapter you just can't finish, or that story you've always wanted to write. Tell the story; what is your picspam saying? Perhaps, see above advice for additional information about "balance". But uhh, maybe avoid the other above advice and stay off of pinterest. No need for temptation. Love, Sarah
Dear Prefects, I'm laughing at my own jokes a bit too much. Am I that funny or that sleep deprived? From, A Lethargic Comic  Dear Lethargic Comic, You are just as funny as you think you are! But just to be safe, ask yourself after a night of sleep, is the joke just as funny the next morning?  Probably not. 😜  Love, Sarah
After the hype of the first week I really find myself struggling to maintain enthusiasm to write. What's a good way to keep the energy going? The best way I've found to keep the energy going is a good support system! Find a great group of people who are motivating, encouraging, and loving. It'll feel good to be apart of something so wonderful and you'll feel more energized and pumped up every time you offer the same support to someone else! Also: coffee, your favorite snack food, and a dance party (solo or not) with a solid jam. -Sarah
The real question here is how much caffeine are you willing to drink at any given interval? I find that as long as I am passionate about what I'm writing, it's much easier to keep up your energy to write. Make sure you are in love with your characters and plot (which comes right down to make sure you are writing for yourself first). Then you'll find yourself happy to wake up and tap away at your word document over a cup of tea in the morning, sneak in a dozen words during an important meeting at work, and spend your evening splattering your ideas across the canvas.  Also, Sarah's dance party idea is revolutionary.  -Rumpels   When writing OF, how do you balance the need for external validation while being conscious of how much you share on a public forum? The important thing to keep in mind is your comfort level and safety. How much do you feel comfortable sharing at any given time? And, of course, basic internet safety protocols. While it's not damning to expose who you are as a person, it's important to make sure you're not giving away any personal information along the lines of fine location and intimate personal details. When it comes down to it, personal safety is going to reign supreme over validation every time, in my opinion. -Rumpels   How do you persuade your government to make November an academic holiday? Start a petition! Get 3 billion signatures!  (I mean, this always works, doesn't it? ) -Rumpels   Every year I find that I stray more and more from outlines during NaNo. Any tips on how to stay somewhat on track?  Bribe your muse to cooperate with you. Staple a copy of the outline to every surface in your home, so it's always in sight. For on-the-go outlines, make sure to bring a stick of lipstick with you, so that you can write the outlines on your car windows and office computer monitor. Teach your dog to talk. Teach your dog to remind you to stick to the outline. Have custom bedsheets and pillowcases made that have your complete outline on them. That way, you won't ever be tempted to stray from your outline, even in your sleep. While sticking to your outline isn't absolutely important, in my opinion, a good way to stick to your outline might be to remind yourself that on-the-spur inspiration that would take you away from your outline might ultimately change where your story will end. You've taken the time to plan your story so that A meets Z, so taking F - P on a different path from what you've already plotted might mean that Z can no longer be Z, if that makes sense. When inspiration strikes, try making a note of your idea IN your outline for the editing/rewrite stage. While you're trying to put as many words on paper as humanly possible during NaNo, you might not be able to think about how it will affect your plot or characters as clearly as when you're in the editing stages. At that point, you'll have a more concrete idea of where your story is and how the change will affect it overall.  -Rumpels   We are very excited to bring in some experts of NaNo past who were so kind as to answer some questions for us! Please give it up for @Gryffin_Duck  @scooterbug8515 and @Wolfgirl! Thank you so, so much for taking the time to get back to us! You all are simply NaNo legends and we're very excited to share your answers with everyone.   G R Y F F I N _ D U C K 1. What are your top three pieces of advice for anyone who is interested in participating in NaNo? 1. Write as much as you can, when you can, especially early on. It's only 1667 words per day, but there will be days when you are too busy to write. If you have a buffer built in early, you can not write on those days when you're busy, rather than forcing yourself to write when you really should be going to bed. 
2. Find your writing buddies! Whether they're online or you know them in real life, NaNo is much easier with a support system of others who are also participating. Last year I did NaNo without many writing buddies and it was the year I struggled the most. 
3. Ignore your Inner Editor, to a degree. You don't want to be deleting and rewriting too much during NaNo, but if something is annoying you, be it a character's name, a few typos, or a certain scene, take the time to fix it. Without that in the back of your head, you'll be able to concentrate on new words. 
2. Are there any tips/tricks you've learned through your experience and NaNo that helps you be successful? Definitely build that buffer of word count as early on as possible. I try and build it the first weekend in November. I have much more steam in the beginning of the month, so it's easier to get ahead than play catchup during the last week.  I owe most of my NaNos to rat races. If I'm doing a rat race I can ignore the internet and not get distracted by other things. If I'm not rat racing, I'm much more likely to get distracted. 
3. What was one of your favorite NaNo experiences?  I did my first five NaNos with my sister and that was the best. We wrote together both in real life and virtually and it was such a great bonding experience. She was too busy to NaNo during college, but now that she's graduated, I'm going to get her back into it one of these years!   S C O O T E R B U G 8 5 1 5 1. What are your top three pieces of advice for anyone who is interested in participating in NaNo? My top three pieces of advice for those looking to participate are: 1.  Don't let the word count intimidate you, it is more manageable than you think and you don't have to do the 50k to participate
2. Don't be hard on yourself about your goal.  The event is all about taking time to write.  The extreme deadline was created to push you not to judge you.  So if you write just a few words during NaNo that makes you a winner because you didn't have those words before.  
3. Connect.  Connect with someone who is going to be an amazing cheerleader, an amazing partner during this event, an amazing competitor... whatever keeps you motivated.  Having people cheer you on or working while you are working helps loads.  It inspires and reminds you, you aren't alone.  There are several ways you can connect either here or on the NaNo forums (just practice your usual internet safety as always.) 2. Are there any tips/tricks you've learned through your experience and NaNo that helps you be successful?  One of my favorite tricks to help with your word count particularly if you are going for the big 50k  One of those tricks is don't delete it just mark it off with a thing I like to call "the brackets of these are not the words you are looking for"  it allows you to mark a scene or collection of words as 'deleted' but they are still there buffering your word count.  You spent the time writing don't count it all as a loss.  Some of my friends have a garbage word file, where they cut and past the would be deleted scenes - the words still count as they should as you spent creative time and energy writing them.  My favorite tip is to write ahead, do your best to create a word count buffer.  Writing 1667 every day is insane - straight up.  But writing 2-3k every few days with 500 in between is more manageable.  By creating a word buffer it gives you an ability to allow for crazy days where you can't write and not be thrown off your mark. This also applies to modified goals... write ahead. 3. What was one of your favorite NaNo experiences?   My favorite NaNo experiences is participating with my local region's writing events. We physically meet up together to spend some time writing.  It is enthralling to spend time with fellow writerly types.  Hearing the clack of keys all around is magical, you can almost feel the creative juices flowing around the room - it is inspiring.  I have made a lot of great friends there, we bounce ideas off each other, race each other and celebrate together. Most of your times together is a few hours a couple of nights a week, but we also have an annual event where we spend 6-8 hours writing.  Most of us take breaks here and there during the day-long session but that much writing in a day is wicked fun, particularly when doing it with others.  I can't wait to do it this year.   W O L F G I R L 1. What are your top three pieces of advice for anyone who is interested in participating in NaNo? Piece of Advice Number One: Set yourself a goal. Being a Panster is great (long-time panster here), but you've got to have daily goals if you want to hit your word count. My general goal is to write 2500 words per day (to hit my self-imposed monthly goal of 75k). My general weekly goal is to publish as new chapter of Tip of My Tongue every Tuesday, and usually to push out 2-3 chapters on other fics too (I've got 35+ WIPs published, plus a swath of unpublished ones, so I've got to juggle just to keep them all updating semi-regularly). I've got a monthly goal of 10-15 chapters posted.  Goals like this are handy because they don't have to be specific for what I want to work on, but they do mean that I have something to push myself to achieve. I often talk myself into writing, even when I might be tired or distracted or just really want to watch one more episode of The 100, by bribing myself to watch it, or eat a tasty snack, or do whatever else I want AFTER achieving the word-count goal I've set for myself that day. I forgo sleep almost every Tuesday to push out a new chapter for ToMT, that kind of thing. Until it's done, I ain't moving from my computer. Piece of Advice Number Two: Don't burn yourself out. Don't go into NaNo looking at that looming 50k word-count goal like it's some enormous mountain you've got to scale as fast as you can. Don't grind and grind and grind just to hit your word count. The goals of Advice Piece 1 are flexible, y'all. There are some days that I definitely don't hit my daily 2500 words. I might not write anything at all, some days. I might make up for it on another day. Maybe I skip today because I'm exhausted, or out of sorts, or have killer cramps, or a social function to attend. Maybe tomorrow I'll write 5000 to make up for it. Writing is about being flexible and having fun. Have goals, but recognise that if you're grinding and forcing out every sentence, the writing will read as though it was forced out. If you want it to flow, you've got to be enjoying what you're working on. I do my best writing when I'm so in the zone that I don't even have to think about spelling or the order words go in. Sometimes I don't even see the keys or the screen as I smash out the fics; I'm in my head and it's playing like a movie and it's flowing through my fingers onto the page. You want to write a fic that feels like that. If you open something and it's not inspiring that immersion, work on something else.  For real, no one said you're only allowed to work on one fic at a time, or that you can't juggle. Writing should be fun. If you're struggling to focus on the fic you're writing, start a new one. Dust off an old one. Do whatever you need to to shake things up and get the creative juices flowing.  Piece of Advice Number Three: DON'T EDIT!!! November is an edit-free month. You're not going to go back and agonise over that paragraph you just wrote. You're not going to comb through every sentence for typos, or fragments, or passive voice, or anything else. You're not even going to re-read what you've written. Not yet. You're not doing NaNo to publish as you go, you're doing it to slam that novel onto the page. Let it be messy. Let it be atrocious, if that's what it takes to get it out there. Let it be full of errors and things that make you cringe. You can edit in December. Edit when it's done. No one's first draft is pretty. Your fic's first draft is like a baby taking its first steps. There will be stumbles, and you'll be wobbly, and maybe you'll fall a couple times..... But when you get it all out there, it's going to feel so goddamn good. Fine-tuning is for later. It's for when you've hit your word count goal and you've rewarded yourself with a Snickers, and you've got a real-life novel on your hands. It's called Nation Novel Writing Month, not National Novel Editing Month. 
2. Are there any tips/tricks you've learned through your experience and NaNo that helps you be successful? Yes. Nothing is perfect. And that's ok. You're never going to make every single one of your readers happy, and that's 100% ok. The most important thing I've learned about writing, in general, is that I have to enjoy what I'm writing. I've got to like my characters, and my plot. No one else has to. If they don't like what I've written, they need not read it, and more fool them. When you give yourself permission to enjoy what you're working on, and to forget what everyone else might think of it, you're free to write the story exactly how you want and that is when it will flow.  Tips for hitting that goal are to set yourself small goals. Tell yourself that you'll write 500 words in a day. Just one chapter. Anything that suits you, that you can achieve but will still push you just that little bit. Count them like pennies. On their own, they are small, almost inconsequential. But you put enough of them together and you've got yourself a dollar. Enough dollars and you're rich. Most people set a 50k word goal for NaNo, and that seems like a lot, but it's only 1667 words a day. Just 1667 words a day, and you'll hit that goal. Participate in Rat Races as often as you're able. Word sprints are the best way to hit those small goals because you've got someone to race against, and if you're competitive like me, you want to hit the highest word count for the sprint. And at the end you've got one more chapter, or 500 more words to add to the pile. Baby-steps, y'all. 
3. What was one of your favorite NaNo experiences? I haven't officially participated in a long time, to be honest. I suppose the fun is most often had in places like HPFT and FB groups when you can commiserate with other authors over the challenges of having a writing goal, and the triumphs of achieving that goal. The last time I officially did NaNo, I wrote my first complete Original Fiction story, which I plan to publish on Amazon in early December of this year. And though there's been a time-lapse between then and now, (and a good deal of tears throughout the editing process and cursing of myself for a moron when the words don't want to come) it's feeling so goddamn good to know that in just a month's time all the blood, sweat and tears that went into writing that novel are finally going to start paying off.   And finally, some of us have left some of our previous NaNo experiences here for your enjoyment!  M A D I M A L F O Y I've been doing NaNoWriMo since 2014 when I decided to overhaul my Dramione novel Love Makes Me. Now I know you're all like, wait a second, aren't you doing this year too? And the answer to that is, yes I am doing that this year as well. 🙃  Turns out I've been writing it for all of my NaNo years, and this is it's third and final iteration, where now I'm just trying to get new chapters out to finally finish the dang thing after 6 years of writing it!  What my first NaNo experience taught me, which is when I attempted the big 50k, is that it's tough when you're in school to try and achieve that large volume of writing. I managed somewhere around 42k that year, and while I was upset I didn't hit 50k, I was still happy with how I'd turned the story around (obviously not anymore) and where it was headed. Something else I learned is that late night writing isn't my best, but does get me more words on the page. I also determined that just finding a few minutes throughout the day to write really helped in the long run because I could just plop out 100 words here and there versus sitting down for 3 hours trying to write 2k words.  Tips of mine:  - Always have a beverage at hand, whether that be coffee, tea, water, pop (soda), alcohol -- just something to keep you hydrated as you write.  - Rat races really do help -- even if you just do them for yourself! - Background noise (loud music for me) is very helpful to keep focused on what you're writing, especially if it's mood music for the scene.  - Buddy system -- have someone who periodically checks in on you and keeps you accountable, and you for them! NaNoWriMo isn't something that you should force yourself to do -- it's a challenge enough sometimes just to write regularly during the year, let alone during a month-long event dedicated to writing. Rebelling with a lower word count or heck not even a word count goal, just something is all that really matters. NaNo is a time to really dive deep into your writing and you get to do it with thousands of your closest friends all at the same time, so enjoy it!   R U M P E L S T I L T S K I N I've been participating in NaNo since 2013, which is nothing compared to some of you. My first year, despite all the prepping I thought I had done, I was nowhere near ready for the madness that was about to ensue. There was not enough time in the day or coffee in the world that could help me finish my word count goal. In fact, I think I came about 20,000 words short of my 50,000-word goal. At first, I was pretty disappointed in myself for failing NaNo. That is, however, until I realized that I wrote 30,000 words. \O/ That was better than nothing. That was a lot better than nothing. My first successful NaNo year was the following year, in 2014, when my outlining turned from simplistic to overly detailed, chapter-by-chapter outlines. And from there on out, I've been rebelling ever since (at approximately 20-25 k each NaNo month). If there was one thing I learned from my first and only successful shot at NaNo was that I do not want to kill myself over 50,000 rather unusable words and would much prefer to not kill myself by writing a 25,000 somewhat usable words.  But that was my personal take on completing a successful NaNo month. I don't like to do huge editing rehauls -- I like to write, edit a bit, and get on with my life (see: other reasons why Rumpelstiltskin really isn't looking into publishing  ).  What I did take away from the successful NaNo year was to bring: --a well-detailed outline of each chapter I'm planning --coffee --a nice pair of slippers -toys to keep my hands busy -a great support system of friends to motivate me when I'm getting off track NaNo shouldn't be about pain, but it is a relatively exhausting deflating time for some people when you feel like you aren't meeting your word count goal. Just keep in mind that, even if you don't meet your 50 k word count goal, each word you write is still a word written. \O/ Happy NaNo'ing! #teamrebel   F A C I N G T H E N O R T H W I N D I logged into my nanowrimo account a week or so ago to discover that I had been a member for ELEVEN YEARS. terrifying. I have definitely won at least twice, but records have been lost, so we will never know I guess.  I know that one year I managed 10k in one day! I have no idea how. I think the last time I won was in 2011.  My favourite activity is finding new word processors specifically for NaNo, because I'm a monster.  My tips: RAT RACES. They are an absolute godsend! If you get stuck on a scene, feel free to just write [COME BACK TO THIS] and move on. Don't worry heaps about not making exactly 1667 words a day -- on days that you have more time to write, feel free to write more so you have a buffer! And if you have fallen behind, hopefully there will be a day where you can knock out heaps. Meetups can help with that -- the NaNo forums will have a group for your area.   _______________ A huge shoutout to everyone who submitted questions and to the three NaNo Legends who helped us out by answering a few questions! We hope you're all having a wonderful NaNo season! May the caffeine be strong and the words flow forth! ❤️  _______________________ credits post contributors - emma, deni, sarah, madi, rumpel, taylor
layout | graphics - rumpel
question submissions - @PaulaTheProkaryote @esmeraude  @Chemical_Pixie      




In the Spotlight | October 22nd

Welcome to our particularly spooky In the Spotlight where we wrap up our spooky season with a bit of Prefect Blog features and extras from this month. We will, of course, be interviewing the October Order of Merlin, Story of the Month, and Head Student recipients, as is our typical style. However, we are also bringing in those monthly Common Room features (like individual story and member of the month winners), as well as revealing who won the raffle in last month's Monthly Dilemma! Plus, we have a BRAND NEW Monthly Dilemma for you all to enjoy. With the newest (and spookiest) House Cup event on the prowl, we hope you all enjoy yourselves and have a wonderfully haunted time! Also, in case you've missed it previously, the Fall Prefect Challenge is now open and accepting submissions!  G I N A ' S   I N T E R V I E W 1. How long have you been a part of the Harry Potter fanfiction community? Since September 2007. 2. What is your favourite part about working behind-the-scenes? Being in the queue. I've been a validator for a while now (though I'm still a baby Auror on HPFT) and there's something familiar and calming about the routine of validating. I like to dive in and get work done. It's also cool getting a glimpse at all the wonderful stories on the archives! 3. Favourite type of fanfiction to read/write? Harry Potter, hands down. But I've been branching out lately. I quite enjoyed writing the Scythe fanfiction and I think I'll be adding more to the archives. 4. What is your OTP? I am a huge Dramione shipper, but I'm not sure they're my OTP (mostly because I don't believe they could ever be canon). I honestly think my OTP is Wolfstar (and I am convinced that they ARE canon). I've been reading a ton in the past year or so and there's something that keeps drawing me in. Maybe it's the inevitable tragedy that tears them apart. Maybe it's the sense of forbidden because they're both marauders and they don't want to "ruin the dynamic" of the group. Maybe it's Sirius's goofiness tempered by Remus's calm logic. Or the high stakes of Sirius helping Remus with his "furry little problem." I don't know. I just love them. 5. What is your favourite non-HP fandom? Probably Hunger Games. 6. If you had to pick one character from any fandom to have to swap places with for exactly one week, who would it be and why? Betty Cooper from Riverdale, mostly because I have a HUGE MASSIVE CRUSH on Cole Sprouse as Jughead. I don't know if that counts, because Cole Sprouse is a real life human being, but my crush is specifically on him AS Jughead (the awkward nerdiness meets not-quite-a-gang-member angst... YES PLEASE). So I think it counts. 7. What is one thing (anything) you wish you knew more about? Other religions. I studied religion as a minor in college but it was more of an overview than a deep study. I'd love to immerse myself in other cultures to learn about their spiritual practices because it helps me understand other people and, in a weird way, better understand myself (and my place in the universe). This month, two very well-deserving members were recognized as Head Students -- Madi @MadiMalfoy and Laura @Aphoride .  They were kind enough to provide us with some interview questions so that we can learn more about just how amazing they are. M A D I  ' S    I N T E R V I E W 1. Why did you pick the House you are in? I picked Ravenclaw way back when because I really enjoyed reading and learning new things. I couldn't identify with the bravery/courage aspect of Gryffindor as I've always been kind of a shy person. (I'm still working on that, if you can believe it!) I've always kind of craved knowledge about interesting topics so that's also a very good reason as to why I'm in Ravenclaw and not Hufflepuff. (though it's likely my secondary House no matter how hard I want it to be Slytherin) 2. If there's one story of yours you would like to tell us about, what would it be and why? Ooh shameless self-promo here  A couple summers back, @Pixileanin requested a story from me focusing on Sybill Trelawney's young adult life. So I've done just that, with her owning a shop and navigating the adult world and also possibly a light workplace romance. It's called Faith, Trust, and Crystal Balls .   3. If you could have dinner with any one character from any fandom, who would it be and what would be a question you would ask them? Ooh this is tough. Honestly I'd probably sit down with either Raven Reyes from The 100 and ask her how she remains so tough and resilient and always has a solution to a problem.  4. Who is someone that greatly inspires you and why/how? my mom.  She's literally Wonder Woman because she raised all three of us at the same time and went right back to teaching and getting her Master's degree after we were born. She also has taught my siblings and I what it means to be good people and not judge others based on first appearances. I also think I got a bit of the teaching bug from her (and my dad too, of course) but generally she's just taught me a lot and now that I'm halfway across the country from my whole family, I think I've realized her wisdom much more.  Okay I'm going to be super cheesy here and say 5. What would a batch of Amortentia smell like to you? Well my bf of six years uses cologne from Versace so definitely that mixed with the smell of the woods after a heavy rain and campfire is what Amortentia would smell like to me.   6. If you were an animal, which animal would it be and why? I'm going to pull from my good ol' middle school/high school brain files and say probably a lynx.  They're such gorgeous "big" cats with the little tufts of fur on the ears and they remind me that even though I'm not that large, I can still stand tall and be confident in myself and my actions.  
L A U R A ' S   I N T E R V I E W 1. Why did you pick the House you are in? So this is where I confess that originally - on the RP site I was on, in all the quizzes I took - I was a Slytherin, and I wanted to be a Slytherin. But when I came to join here, I took a single house quiz after a long time of just, yk, being a Slytherin, and got Ravenclaw. It kinda made me wonder if I was or not, so I just picked it anyway because I figured, hey, I could always switch later. I think mostly, though, I've grown into Ravenclaw: I definitely value things like creativity, intelligence, open-mindedness, and learning a lot more than I used to - or, at least, used to think I did.  2. If there’s one story of yours you would like to tell us about, what would it be and why? You do know this is a super embarrassing question, right?   Self-promotion always feels so awkward... I guess, though, if I had to pick one, it would be La Salvezza. It's obscure and it's actually not that long (for me), and I wrote it ages ago in three quick sittings as a gift for Kristin (StellaBlue), but I still love it. I loved writing it so much and I'm so happy with how it turned out - and always a little bit sad it didn't get much love. It's kinda dark-ish and lonely and angry at times, because it's Gellert in Nurmengard, dealing with everything that means for him, for his ideals, for Albus.  3. Is there any one character (from any fandom) that inspires you (either on a personal level or while writing)? If so, how/why? I don't think there's any one character, tbh. I tend to bounce from characters and pairings and fandoms to other ones fairly quickly, playing around with ideas and scenarios, scenes in my head, to try to find inspiration somewhere. I read in a bunch of fandoms, though, so while I'm mostly in HP, I think a lot more about other fandoms than I end up writing, so it varies a lot.  4. What are your top five [5] things to do on a rainy day? Ooooh. Drink tea, sit in the conservatory at my parents' house and listen to the rain drumming off the roof, have a walk, read something fun, end up playing Monopoly with the family because we can't play Risk because my mum hates it and we can't play Trivial Pursuit because dad always wins and we can't play HP trivia because I always win. (Me and my sister then have the usual fight about who's the dog in Monopoly. Usually I let her win.)  5. If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be and why? India. I'm super fascinated by India - it's such a beautiful country and my friends who've been or have family there all love it. There's so much culture there and so much history, and I always regret I don't know more about it. And that I'm too terrified of snakes to actually go, at least not without someone to protect me from the snakes...  6. If you could only write with one character (as the main character) for all of 2019, who would it be and why? Mmmm I suppose since my NaNo novel is (probably) going to be a Minerva McGonagall-starring novella it'd have to be her. At least then maybe I'd finish it?  Thank you both so much for participating!    We are thrilled to present some extras from this month's sitewide Story of the Month winner, Project Azkaban [M] by the lovely Gina @Unwritten Curse! Gina is a fantastic writer and a lovely person (you know, in the event that you didn't know -- which means you've never actually spoken to Gina, which is highly recommended)!  R E V I E W   C O L U M N Project Azkaban is a masterpiece, from the very first line. Gina starts the story by throwing you straight into the action as Teddy, who’s in Azkaban, is suddenly confronted with the concept of escaping. Her exploration of his thought process and foggy mental state throughout the chapter is so well executed, and really gets at how he’s been affected by his time in the magical prison.   Then, after all of that, a moment of clarity - the chapter concludes with a project proposal, explaining that this Azkaban that Teddy is experiencing is a new iteration of the wizarding prison, designed as a self-functioning unit that traps people in a universe with an altered timeline and erases their memories. And not just that: the prison required trial runs before being implemented, so it’s entirely possible that Teddy and these other people are merely subjects of an experiment, and hadn’t even committed a crime prior to being subjected to these conditions. Overall, this story is completely fascinating - for those who have ever been heard of the Stanford Prison Experiment and its after-effects, Gina’s Project Azkaban is a thrilling exploration of its wizarding equivalent.
  This is our very first month that we are adding some spectacular extras from all four of our lovely Common Rooms. We are very proud to present the extras from your individual monthly Common Room awards. This is a very exciting feature for us, so be sure to congratulate one another on their in-House achievements!  Gryffindor recognized Abby @Chemical_Pixie as their Member of the Month and Taylor's @ShadowRose Complicated [M] as Story of the Month this October. Please give a round of applause to these phenomenal creatures as they entertain us with some interview questions! A B B Y ' S   I N T E R V I E W 1. Give us your best House Pride shoutout!  If we ever break our jar, I offer my one remaining Gryffindor sock to hold our marbles.

2. What is your favorite activity/event/thing you hold in your House? Why? I love Gryffindor’s growth and passion and pride. We’re implementing new things, like a book club and a review competition, as well as keeping up with our newsletter, Leading Lion, SotM, and blanket fort. Roar! 

3. Which animal would you like as a pet if it could be scaled down to the size of a cat? Lil’ Sebastian. (You’re 5,000 candles in the wind…)
4. Tell us a very quick story synopsis using only emojis. A Woman's Place T A Y L O R ' S  I N T E R V I E W 1. Give us your best House pride shoutout! despite winning an award for writing a 125k monster (that's somehow getting even longer as i edit early chapters), i'm struggling with words here. so please enjoy this gif of gryffindor destroying the competition instead.
2. What is your favorite activity/event/thing you hold in your House? Why? we're currently doing a book club for the harry potter books, and i'm absolutely loving it! i haven't re-read the books in forever, and it's so fun to go back to them and fall in love with them all over again. 3. Explain why your favorite scene is your favorite scene in Complicated! i have to pick one??? okay, fine. it's the end of chapter 12, and it's a moment when abby, the main character, has finally reached her breaking point, and then dominique weasley just saunters in and basically tells abby that she's not allowed to take this lying down. it's a kinda pivotal moment, not only because dom is the MVP of the story in this moment (pretty sure someone wrote those exact words in a review - whoever you are, thank you for letting me borrow them), but because it's a turning point that leads into abby getting this whole new group of friends and growing immensely as a person and, yes, eventually getting together with james. 4. Which character (either canon or original) do you find the most frustrating to write in this fic? asdfghjkl blaise. and scarlett. who are, for reference, abby's boyfriend and best friend, respectively, at the start of the series. they're frustrating because i thrive on writing grey characters - that is, characters that have both noticeable flaws and good qualities. abby starts off as a mostly awful person, and james is honestly kind of an asshole at times too, but they grow and change from their mistakes and become better for it - and continue to do so in the sequel. scarlett and blaise are both completely flat characters (wow, english lit terms apparently still exist in my subconscious), meaning that there's only one side to them; they don't really do anything good in the story, like, ever. and part of that is because it's from abby's perspective and, after what happens, she'll never see them in a positive light again, but it's also because... well, they're just selfish/bad people. 
Hufflepuff featured the lovely Bianca @victoria_anne as their Member of the Month and Kristin's @Stella Blue to dwell on dreams as their stellar Story of the Month. Give it up for these wonderful Puffles as they humor us with their interview questions.  B I A N C A ' S   I N T E R V I E W 1. Give us your best House Pride shoutout! So here’s the thing about Hufflepuff –
The other Houses don’t think we’re tough enough.
They’re brave, cunning, smart or whatnot,
And constantly thinking, “What’s Hufflepuff got?” Well, hold onto your hats and hold onto your socks,
Because underestimating Hufflepuff has its aftershocks.
They don’t think we’re brave, cunning, or smart?
Let me tell you what sets them and Hufflepuff apart. Our House is all class, sass and badass,
Better watch out when we’re en masse.
You may think we’re quiet, down in our sett,
“Aw, look at those badgers – are they really a threat?” Well, why don’t you find out in this year’s House Cup?
We little badgers dare you to step up.
Have you never heard the Hufflepuff war chant?
It’s going to make yours sound extremely scant. So, lions, snakes and eagles (oh my!)
You better run when you hear our battle cry.
The other Houses may think they’ve got it, they’re tough, 
But this year, baby, the Cup goes to Hufflepuff. 2. What's your favorite event/activity/thing you hold in your House? Why? We have a thread in which we party and snuggle simultaneously I love when badgers drop in with exciting new life updates, or are in need of a pick me up from their fellow Puffs. 3. Where is the most unusual place you’ve had to stop what you were doing to scribble down a plunny or thought about a story? I'm pretty sure I stopped mid-shower to scribble something (damp) down. I do some good thinking in the shower but somehow forget it as soon as I'm out. 4. What is the opposite of a koala? Trick question - there's no such thing as a koala. It's a myth.
K R I S T I N ' S   I N T E R V I E W 1.  Give us your best House Pride shoutout!  I wanted to put a badger gif here but can't load gifs on my phone but like,  I don't know how to answer this with words, haha. (And you call meawriter! )  Here are some heart emojis in Hufflepuff colors because I love all my Puffs and we love everyone  2. What is your favorite activity/event/thing you hold in your House? Why? I really like the Chalices (our annual awards) as I love seeing what everyone has been writing. I'm unfortunately not able to participate in much since there is no internet where I live, but during Chalice season I get to hear about all the stories I've missed and read them then. 3. What was your primary source of inspiration for to dwell on dreams? There was a love triangle challenge hosted by clevernotbrilliant a while ago, and that sparked the idea of writing as unconventional of a love triangle as I could come up with. 4. What was the most difficult part of writing this story? Mostly just the process of actually getting the words on the page  This October, Ravenclaw house saw brilliance in Holly @Alopex as their Member of the Month and Shreya's @forever_dreaming China Doll [M] for their Story of the Month. Put your hands together for these two wonderful people! H O L L Y ' S   I N T E R V I E W 1. Give us your best House Pride shoutout! My go-to house pride shout-out would definitely have to be Clawsome. I'm also a fan of the Ra-ra-ravenclaw rallying cry we came up with several years ago (sing it like the similar sounding line in the Bad Romance song by Lady Gaga). 2. What is your  I am a bad Claw and don't really actively participate in things.  Nor am I very involved in organizing house activities, as my focus is more sitewide. However, I am extremely proud of favorite activity/event/thing you hold in your House? Why? the IT, if that counts as an activity. I think it's something that makes our house special. If stretching back to its origins on HPFF, we have the longest running newsletter. Seeing new issues come out is definitely one of my favorite things about the Ravenclaw CR. 3. If you were given a PhD but had no more knowledge of the subject of the degree besides what you have now, what degree would you want to be given to you? Oh snap. I am not sure if I deserve a PhD in anything, to be honest! But I probably would want one in geospatial sciences or something similar, as that's what my educational background and profession involve. I'd be closer to qualifying in that than anything else, and I do have a cool profession if I say so myself.   4. What’s a smartphone app you would love to see? I am totally at a loss for this question. I was hoping to come up with a creative or useful idea, but best I've got is an app that sends a cute fox picture every day. It probably exists already. 
  Slytherin also started their month by featuring kris @starbuck as their Member of the Month and Nicole's @teh tarik  To Boil Telephone Porridge [M] as their Story of the Month! A standing ovation for these two wonderful Snakes! K R I S ' S   I N T E R V I E W 1. Give us your best House Pride shoutout!  I really loved how we all came together during the House Cup opener (and I hope we'll manage to keep it up)...so here's a shoutout for my fellow snakes who fully supported my 'we hang the man' strategy, no questions asked - it just shows they're quite willing to participate in a bit of casual murder in order to win, which is obviously great   .  2. What is your favorite activity/event/thing that you hold in your House? Why? I love the Hot Seat! (A reviewing game for non-snakes) It gives me opportunity to read Slytherin stories I might not have found otherwise and it's always lovely to leave someone a nice review  3. If you could swap one actor with another from one of the HP Movies, who would it be and why? Hmm, this is a really tough question  I honestly have no idea - I mean, all the characters are quite different so I'm not sure how to swap them...I'd have loved a different actor for Bill Weasley, that's for sure, he was supposed to be very cool and hot while the actor who played him...kind of wasn't? (At least not in the way they made him look in the movies).  4  What is your biggest pet peeve? In writing? I think it's using 'would of' and/or 'should of'   In general? Eh, people copying my ideas  I got a lot of that from a friend during uni and it would've been rude and probably fight-inducing if I pointed it out.    N I C O L E ' S   I N T E R V I E W 1. Give us your best House Pride shoutout! Thank you, Snakes, for being such a fun and welcoming House. Your fierce competition is wonderful - and very amusing for a laid back person like me. You're a fantastic bunch and I love you all and happy to be with you in our Snake Pit! 2. What is your favorite activity/event/thing you hold in your House? Why? Do you mean favourite Slytherin House event??? Um...ahaha...I haven't been active recently (again) BUT I really enjoy reading the Silver Quill. I think it's fabulous how detailed it is, and how much effort goes into putting the whole thing together. Kudos to the newsies for that! I always enjoy newsletters -- they help me get up to speed with the goings-on in the site and CR. 3. Do you have any more background/characterization information about Aizzit in To Boil Telephone Porridge that you’d like to share? I never explored Aizzat's character much in the story because I wanted the focus to be on Daniel and Kwai Sim. I guess some things about Aizzat that I may have hinted at in the story, but didn't fully develop: Aizzat and Daniel have a very difficult relationship. The kind of relationship which is sometimes comforting and at certain brief moments of awareness, something both people are intensely grateful for. But it's also the kind of relationship that at times leaves them both really feeling the depths of their own isolation and loneliness. And sometimes a disconnect from each other. Aizzat is more curious and active than Daniel - he loves Daniel but is sometimes impatient with him. He, too, had a falling out with his family, but didn't take it as hard as Daniel did - and I do feel that he has more connection to the outside world than Daniel. And I feel that the older Aizzat is a lot more confident with himself, compared to Daniel. 4. What do you think would have been different about the plot if Daniel’s parents had openly accepted him as he was? There would have been no story  I wrote the story specifically to explore the intersection of family, LGBTQIA+ issues and cultural/political/social attitudes in Malaysian society. I would be writing a completely different story and with different characters. These characters were crafted specifically to suffer (with hope at the end for them, though). Sorry to sound harsh about this, but it's true, and reflects a bit of the truth of being LGBTQIA+ in Malaysia.  BTW, thank you to all lovely Snakes for nominating and voting for my story.    Before we hop into our newest Monthly Dilemma, we would first like to announce the winner from last month's Monthly Dilemma raffle! And the winner is @nott theodore! Congratulations! You've won one [1] free review on a story of your choice. Please contact one of your Prefects to let us know where you would like it  .  Now, for those of you who don't know what the Monthly Dilemma is: The monthly Dilemma is a new feature to our Prefect Blog as of last month! Each month, we will be asking you all a question! You can answer the question by responding to that specific blog post. Anyone who comments in the blog post with an answer to the question is put into a randomized raffle to win a little prize. You will have until the 15th of the following month to answer the question to be entered into the raffle. Winners will be announced in that month's Monthly Dilemma section. This month's dilemma is:
What stereotypical role would you fill in a scary movie? If you need suggestions for horror film archetypes, there's a good list +HERE.  You have until November 15th to answer! This month's prize winner will receive one [1] review on a story of your choice.  ~*~ That concludes October's Edition of In the Spotlight!  We would like to profusely thank everyone who has participated in answering our questions, as it provides the true meat of this blog! We hope you are enjoying the Spoooooooooktacular House Cup Event! REMINDER: It's not too late to submit any burning NaNo problems/questions you may have to the Prefects for the November 7th potpourri post! We are anxiously awaiting submissions! We are also breaking in our newest Prefect, Sarah @adorably cute! She's becoming entirely familiar with our madness, so stay tuned for even more shenanigans from the Prefect Crew  .  See you next time! __________ credits
header/dividers - taylor
monthly dilemma drawing & question - emma
interviewers - taylor, deni, madi, rumpel, nix
review column - taylor | prefect reviews - madi, nix
layout - rumpel




World Spooktacular | October 7th, 2018

Welcome to the spookiest Prefect Blog around!  This month, we are honoring the scary season by taking a look at the way some parts of the world celebrate in October. We also have prepared some rather frightening legends from multiple cultures, and left you all with a list of recommended stories on our very own archives to set the horror mood! We hope you're all having a fabulous October! As a special note, the Prefect's Fall Quarter Writing Challenge, the "[Insert Challenge Name Here] Challenge", has been posted. You can find it +here for more spook-tastic details! 
Throughout the world, everyone is bringing in the new season in their own spectacular way! In order to celebrate along with them, we would like to present a few fun October Festivities from around the globe!  This is Not Art (Newcastle, Australia) In Australia, October hosts an event dubbed "This is Not Art," which has been an annual gathering of artists (both emerging and experienced) that has been happening since circa 1998! It is a gathering for sharing ideas, experimenting, and meeting like-minded individuals (who might even become a future partner for collaborating on their artistic endeavours). Thousands of people attend this festival each year, which is made up of approximately 150 smaller events. It welcomes all artists, performers, writers, thinkers, theatre-makers, dancers, and tech-heads to come together for a fun-tastic and creative weekend!  Lake of Stars (Mangochi, Malawi) Over in East Africa, you will find the country of Malawi and, with it, the Lake of Stars Music Festival! This music festival goes a lot deeper than merely gathering people together for some good times (though it does that, too). In its very core, it also serves to and focuses on influencing the growth of the local economy. Due to the tourist attraction to the small country for the festival, and through ticket sales and volunteer activity to things like flood relief programs, the Lake of Stars Festival helps improve life for the locals and they put on a fantastic show while they're at it!  Concurs de Castells (Tarragona, Spain) This Spanish event is all about one thing: human towers. Concurs de Castells is an annual competition in which over 40 teams compete to create the most complex and tallest human towers. This event dates all the way back to the 18th century and is still enjoyed by over 6,000 average spectators each year. In a display of Catalan culture, complete with parades, music, and street performances, the event mainly focuses on this competition that creates towers on an average of nine stories high! The teams have five rounds to build their best towers, and a points distribution system helps determine the winners! Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta (Albuquerque, New Mexico) Have you ever been to a Balloon Festival before? If you have, you're familiar with the many crafters gathered to sell balloon-related goods (among other handmade goods), live band performances, and the main event, watching the many colorful and unique hot air balloons take to the sky. In Albuquerque, this festival surpasses any Balloon Festival you've ever seen by leaps and bounds. Crowds gather to watch over 750 beautifully whimsical hot air balloons rise into the blue skies. Besides watching the balloons, the event also offers filmmaking contests, balloon riding services, AfterGlow fireworks, and balloon races. Festival du Nouveau Cinéma (Montreal Canada) Filmmakers and film-lovers alike gather to this 44-year-old festival to experience the spirit of good company, revelry, and fun. This 11-day festival brings people together from around to experience over 300 films, conferences, art installations, cocktail parties, performances, and transmedia projects. It has an emphasis on "the new" and acts as a showcase for all cinema types. They try to keep on top of things as the world (and its technology and media) changes from year-to-year, and encourage the latest trends as well as bringing in fresh ideas and features.  The  Festival du Nouveau Cinéma remains determined to expand the horizons of Montreal audiences by showing them original ways of presenting and experiencing film.  Amsterdam Dance Event (Amsterdam, the Netherlands) This electronic music platform and club festival is the leading and largest, worldwide! By the light of day, this conference is the ultimate business and inspiration platform for the global electronic music industry. It focuses on providing music professionals, aspiring DJs, and musicians the latest in technological, human, and business resources. By the dark of night, this festival provides access to the entire whole spectrum of electronic subgenres, with over 2,500 artists performing in 140 of Amsterdam's music and nightlife spaces. In 2017, the festival brought 395,000 visitors from over 90 countries, which makes it the world's biggest club festival. Frankfurt Book Fair (Frankfurt, Germany) This isn't just your average book fair. Frankfurt's 70-year-old event hosts 7,000 exhibitors from 100 countries and nearly 300,000 annual visitors. For book fans from all over the world and international publishers media, it is all about printed and digital content and the relevant topics for the coming year. The book fair is the most important international marketplace for content, as well as a key trendsetter for society and a major cultural festival.  The first three days are for business and industry only, but the public is invited to attend the last two days.  These final days are filled with book signings, readings and the perusal thousands of new and exciting titles.
Jewish Festivities in October This year, only two Jewish holidays falls in October -- Simchat Torah and Shemini Atzeret. However, they're the last of a whole series of interconnected festivals and approximately every second year, the majority of them do fall in October, so we're going to cover all of them. Strap in.  They're kicked off by Rosh Hashana, which never falls in October, but it's the Jewish New Year. None of the following holidays are spooky in any way, unless you count the inherent threat of death on Yom Kippur (check out the +extremely metal list of ways you can die that we recite) and the threat of wasps on Sukkot if you decorate your sukkah with fruit. Wasps are terrifying. Yom Kippur -- lit. "Day of Atonement", this is... well, exactly what it says on the tin. Ten days after Rosh Hashana, you fast (no water or food) for 25 hours, and you're basically asleep or praying, so it's pretty easy to avoid food when you're sitting in a synagogue with hundreds of other people who are also hungry and thirsty. You also wear all white and since you're not meant to wear leather shoes, the shoe choices can be... interesting. You atone communally for all the sins you've committed against God, but the sins you've committed against other people you need to make amends yourself -- God can't do anything about those. There's the idea that God decides whether you're going to die in the coming year on Yom Kippur, but it's just a metaphor, honestly. Sukkot -- Just five days after you're done praying for an entire day without food or water, you have to start eating your meals in a little tent-type thing you rig up in your backyard called a sukkah (sukkot is the plural). It's got to have three walls and a roof made of palm fronds where the fronds cast more shade than there is sunlight BUT you can also see the stars at night. It's a complicated business. Once you've satisfied all eleventy billion rules however, you get to just enjoy it for a whole week! It symbolises the temporary dwellings that the Jewish people lived in when there were in the desert for forty years after they left Egypt. You also wave a bundle of plants and an etrog, which is like a very large and expensive lemon that doesn't taste very nice. I don't know what it's like in the northern hemisphere, but October is perfect weather down here in Australia for chilling outside, it's delightful.   Shmini Atzeret -- I had to google this one, I'm not going to lie. I knew it existed, but I didn't really know what it was. Shmini means 'eighth' and 'azteret' shares a root with the word for 'halt, stop'. It's the day after Sukkot ends, and it's a day when we just take an extra day to enjoy God's company, really. It's like when you have a friend stay with you for a few days and you really like their company so you're like "aw, why not just stay an extra day". Also, this is the day you start praying for rain. Simchat Torah -- This one is the most joyful by far. Every year Jews read the whole Torah (the first five books of the Bible) and on Simchat Torah, we get to the end. BUT because we love the Torah so much, we get really excited and then immediately read the beginning again, starting the cycle anew. There is lots of dancing, some drinking, more dancing while holding heavy Torah scrolls, and general merriment.  And then, finally, we get to rest all the way until Chanukah! We have survived another holiday season, Halleluyah.    Día de Los Muertos
by @TreacleTart Across the world, the end of October brings Halloween. Houses are decorated with lights and spooky creatures and kids run around in costumes in search of sweet treats. It’s a great holiday, but not the main reason that I look forward to the close of the month. Instead, I anxiously await the first of November because that’s when Día de los Muertos begins. Día de los Muertos translates literally to The Day of the Dead and is a celebration that honors ancestors with food, drink, music, and family celebrations. It is a tradition that originally comes from Mexico, however, it’s growing popularity has led to celebrations in other Latinx countries and in the Southwestern United States.  Like much of Mexican culture, Día de Los Muertos is rooted deeply in Aztec culture. In the 16th century when the Spaniards invaded, they tried to stop the Aztecs from celebrating believing the holiday to be sacrilegious. Their efforts had little effect. Eventually the holiday was shifted from summer when it was originally celebrated to November where it coincided with All Saints Day.  One might think that a holiday celebrating the dead would be somber, but Día de Los Muertos is actually very lively and happy. Each family builds an altar in their home which carries photos of all their loved ones who have passed on. Altars are traditionally decorated with bright orange marigolds. Ofrendas (offerings) of favorite foods and drinks are left out for hungry spirits. Shots of tequila or beers are also not uncommon.  Families also visit the cemeteries and decorate grave sites leaving similar offerings. Trails of marigold petals can often be found leading to the altars as a sort of pathway for the spirits. Massive displays of candles are also often found at the cemetery entry where people can light them in prayer for an ancestor. In the cities, impromptu parades called calendas spring up. Bands with trumpets, trombones, drums, and tubas lead processions of dancing people through the city, pausing periodically to play a song here or there. These often go on for hours and can get quite rowdy as the crowd size increases. Face painting is another common tradition. Ladies and men alike paint their faces to look like calaveras (sugar skulls). It’s common for women to braid flowers into their hair and dress in bright dresses. Finally, Pan De Muerto (Bread of the dead) is baked and eaten. The exact origins of the bread are unknown, but it is said to be a symbolic stand in for a idol’s sacrifice. The round shape of the bread represents the body, the cross and round decorations on the top represent the skull and bones, and the red sugar is said to represent the blood. The bread itself has a light cinnamon flavor and is usually enjoyed at breakfast with coffee. All in all, Día de Los Muertos is easily my favorite fall holiday. It has the fun elements of Halloween with a deep significance and rich cultural roots. Between the altars, breads, foods, and parties, it’s easy to see why it’s growing so quickly in popularity.
    Commercialization of Halloween in the US In the United States, the epitome of what "melting pot" culture refers to is the holiday of Halloween. It's a blending of pagan and religious beliefs, rituals, and traditions from all people living in America. Halloween is recognized nationally on October 31st, also known as All Hallow's Eve to precede All Hallows Day or All Saints Day on November 1st. Jack-O-Lanterns derive from the carved vegetable lanterns that Celts would make during Samhain to light the way for good spirits while a bonfire was meant to keep away evil ones. For many children in the US, carving their own Jack-O-Lantern is a rite of childhood and there are national pumpkin carving contests where artists create beautiful works of art in pumpkins ranging from the size of your hand to one thousand (1,000) pound behemoth pumpkins. In the 1800's is when the large influx of immigrants from Europe changed the way Halloween was celebrated into the more modern version that happens today. They brought over many games synonymous with this time of the year such as bobbing for apples, telling ghost stories, and general mischief and pranks that sometimes turned into vandalism and crime. Something else that began to become a widespread activity around Halloween was children dressing up in costumes and going door-to-door for more lighthearted fun. This was the early version of "Trick-or-Treat" that kids still do today. It has been called both "Beggar's Night" and "Trick-or-Treat Night," and it often does not fall on the actual day of Halloween, as cities and towns typically schedule it sometime during the week of Halloween instead. Children dress up in costumes (and sometimes so do the parents!) and go door-to-door telling jokes and getting candy and snacks in return for a few hours the night of the event.  This commercialization and handing of candy out to kids means that US candy companies jumped on the potential profits to be made during this holiday. Many companies release specially shaped or designed packaging such as adding pumpkins, bats, and skeletons and the colors to purples, blacks, and oranges. Decorating companies also leapt at the chance for profit as well, creating all sorts of Halloween-themed decorations from glittery foam pumpkins to giant inflatable ghosts to put in the front yard. There are often contests in neighborhoods for best decorated home and (unofficial) best house to give out candy -- this often is the house that handed out king-size candy bars every year.   With this decorating intensity, another thing that happens during Halloween-time in the US is the idea of Haunted Houses. These are often run by local municipalities, companies, or even on the grounds of theme parks like Universal Studios and Disneyland. The main objective of these places are to scare the living daylights out of everyone who passes through, including small children and parents. Some places even require waivers due to a possibility of being hurt and to allow the actors inside to be able to touch you as part of their act to scare you more. Often times there is a small charge to get in, as it helps pay for the decorating of the place and cost to run electricity and other things while the Haunted House is in operation. Sometimes though, places will simply ask for a donation of any amount to get in, or if the Haunted House is being put on to support a local food bank or similar community center, they will ask for canned food or other types of donations. No matter the cost of entry though, the main object of Haunted Houses is simply to scare those who pass through and to give them a good show while they are there. While the holiday of Halloween stems from a wonderful mixing of religious and cultural traditions that used to center around the end of harvest season and a way to celebrate before the start of November, today it has become a much more gaudy, silly, and also scary holiday for those who live in the US. Trick-or-Treating is still fun as adults for many people, and Haunted Houses may be an annual family and friends event for others. No matter how we celebrate Halloween in the US, it's a fun holiday filled with delicious candy and fun decorations for all to enjoy.  The Best Month of the Year For me, October brings with it a number of wonderful things. First, it's the cooler weather -- a nice relief from the hot summer. With the cooler weather, of course, comes the annual changing of the leaves! The trees trade their once lush green to a vibrant display of reds, oranges, yellows, and browns. Even after they shed their colorful cloaks, it only means more fun (by way of raking them up into a pile and jumping into them, of course).   It feels almost as if those fast and carefree days of summer slow into a tranquil and more reliable tempo. Plus, pumpkin and apple-flavored everything hits the shelves in mass quantities, which are always exceptionally fun to explore.  And the decorations go up! Much like with the winter holidays, colorful lights line the streets. Except these lights are brightly golden, green, red, and cheerful. These lights come in ghoulish arrangements, and where a snowman might be in a few months, a life-sized mechanical werewolf can be seen. People string cobwebs, hang skeletons, place pumpkins, and create replicas of cemeteries, where you might find a hand of a zombie plunging through the earth to snatch an unexpecting passerby.  It's the time of year where people actively seek to frighten themselves (and others). Scary movies are featured (like the new Halloween movie releasing this month).  The lines for Haunted Houses are incredibly long but so worth the wait, as you enter your own personal horror flick, waiting to be chased by a masked man in a chainsaw or jump-scared by a witch hiding behind a door. Some people even create miniature Haunted Hallways for the kiddos to traverse while out trick-or-treating -- for only the bravest will be able to pass through and earn themselves a full-sized candy bar!  But it's not only the frights that can attract people to this month. Around here, it's also Harvest Season. Fruits and vegetables are reaching full size and ample ripeness. The reddest of apples, the most golden gourds, and the juiciest tomatoes are all ready to be picked. This is truly when the Farmer's Markets thrive, offering a vast rainbow of colors and shapes to the population.  Hayrides and corn mazes are in season, too. If you've never been to a corn maze, it's a fun little adventure that I highly recommend. It's even more fun when you go at dusk, knowing that you'll be stuck in there well after-dark and things feel slightly more spooky than they do during the daytime.  People throw parties and dress in costumes! You haven't lived until you've eaten meatloaf and sausage links meant to replicate human organs  . So go ahead and embrace your weirdo, spooky self this month (I know I will be), as it's the only month that it's really publicly acceptable to do so ❤️. Most of all, this month brings will it all kinds of nostalgic activities with my family. From trick-or-treating (which I now get to do with my daughter), to Cupcake Wars (coming soon!), to group-decorating, parties, apple-picking, pumpkin-picking, potato-picking, and canning/jaring/baking all the things I've grown in my garden, October truly is my favorite month.  Spooky Myths and Legends From Around the Globe Halloween has always been notorious for its myths and legends, but frightening tales are not always season-exclusive! Here are some favorite tales from around the world! As a fair warning, make sure to read these with all the lights on and your favorite plushies to keep you safe -- it's about to get spooky in here!  The Blood Countess [Hungary] This tale is interwoven with early myths of vampirism, about a Hungarian Noblewoman named Countess Erzsébet Báthory de Ecsed (also known as the Blood Countess). To cut a long and twisted story short, the Countess was known (and convicted) for murdering females to bath in their blood, believing that this was the answer to eternal youth. The Countess was convicted of around 80 murders, but testimonies and eyewitness accounts have boosted numbers into the 600s, and apparently, attendants of her estate estimated that between 100 and 200 bodies were removed from the premises at the time of her conviction.    La Llorona (The Weeping Woman] [Mexico] Legend has it that La Llorona is the spiritual remains of a mother who was accused of drowning her children in the local river. Her ghost haunts rivers and creeks alike [specifically the Sante Fe and offshoots of the River], searching for children to drag into the watery depths. Recipient of the title, The Weeping Woman, she is always reported to be in a grievous state of crying when spotted. Children are warned not to venture out after dark, in fear that La Lorona will catch them. While some tales say that she will only take children, others claim that she will take pretty much anyone. It's probably best, however, to steer clear of a weeping woman in white if you're ever out near the Santa Fe after dark.    Gjenganger [Scandinavia] The gjenganger is a particular type of spirit that has an actual physical entity about it -- it is completely corporeal. As is said for most unhappy ghosts, it is said to be the spiritual remains of someone who has some unfinished business in their life and often were met with a violent end. Gjenganger seem to target the family and friends of the deceased person and can inflict actual damage (even kill) as they have a physical 'body' and can interact on the physical plane. However, a gjenganger will not brutally attack anyone. Instead, they spread pestilence and plague by "pinching" their victims, which causes a necrosis that will slowly kill the person infected. This pinch is known as dødningeknip or the dead man's pinch. Like other mythological entities, holy symbols seem to ward them off, and there are also precautions in place that can be done to prevent a loved one from rising as a gjenganger. To mean, they seem to be some cross of spirit, zombie, and vampire, which is pretty cool (and absolutely terrifying).   The Man-Eating Tree [Madagascar] A German explorer and botanist by the name of Karl Leche wrote a letter in 1874 (which soon went on to be published in journals and newspapers), detailing his discovery of a man-eating tree. Of course, to a botanist, this was an astounding discovery. The tree was described as having a thick, bulging trunk (shaped similarly to a pineapple), and had huge three-foot-wide leaves covered in tiny hooks. With a sweet and tempting nectar in the plant's center and protruding tendrils that stood taller than a full-grown man, the plant was a spectacle of curiosity. Tale has it that Leche bore witness as one of the locals drank from the nectar, who was then captured by the tendrils and the giant leaves closed around them. Leche wrote that after 10 days, the tree unfurled its leaves once more, and where was once a person then lay a skeleton -- just bone. While the tree's existence or the validity of Leche's letter have neither been proven or disproven, if you're ever out wandering the jungles of Madagascar and happen upon a giant, frightening plant, it's probably best not to drink from it. Which would you prefer to tango with -- the Man-Eating Tree or the Whomping Willow?   The Girl in the Bathroom [Japan] Nope, she's not named Myrtle, though she does like to haunt the girl's bathroom of one particular Japanese school. Legend has it that if you go to the third stall of the third floor's girl's bathroom and knock three times while reciting the girl's name (Hanako) when you open the door, she'll be there. I've found two versions of what happens at this point. The first is that you'll be grabbed by one of her bloodied hands, and the second is that she appears in the form of a giant lizard, which will eat you. Either way, it's probably best not to do it (especially if there's a chance you're going to be devoured by a lizard). And, apparently, she's not the only ghost known to haunt public bathrooms in Japan!    What are some of your favorite myths and urban legends? We'd love to know! 
In the spirit of the season, we would like to present some of our favorite Dark/Horror Fic Recs (with some tasty treats for the authors)!   Rinse and Repeat [Mature] by  @VaguelyCreativeName Project Azkaban [Mature] by @Unwritten Curse Sisyphus [Mature] by @ShadowRose China Doll [Mature] by @forever_dreaming Antebellum [Mature] by @Aphoride Beyond the Veil and into the River of Death [Mature] by @pookha The Brother's Three [Mature] by @Chelts-rhj Crouching Parasite, Deathly Agenda [Mature] by @AbraxanUnicorn Out of the Shadows [Mature] by @dirigibleplums Hate [M] by @abhorsen. Non-Omnis Moriar - Not All of Me Shall Die [Mature] by @Celtic_Dreamer7 Joy [Mature] by @scooterbug8515 Misconstrued [Mature] by @Diogenissa All Hallow's Eve by @MadiMalfoy                  OooooOOOooOOOoooo! That's a wrap, folks! We would like to give a huge shoutout to @TreacleTart for providing us with the Dias de Los Muertos piece as well as those lovely pictures!  We hope you have a wonderful and safe month, full of excitement, love, and spooks! >3  _________________________ credits: articles:
Jewish Festivities in October - Emma
Dias de Los Muertos with Photos - Kaitlin
Commercialization of Halloween in the US - Madi
Spooky Myths | Worldwide Festivities | Fic Recs - Rumpels Header/Divider | Layout
Fic Rec Graphics - Rumpels




In the Spotlight | September 2018

Welcome to the September Issue of In the Spotlight!  We've prepared your usual goodies such as some extras with the September Sitewide Story of the Month winner, an all-exclusive interview with this Month's staff member who received an Order of Merlin, as well as an interview with our most recent Head Students. This month we're also bringing you even more extras with the Summer Quarter's Prefect Challenge winner!  September is a bustling month -- it's back to school here on the Forums as well as some of you in real life! So take some time to yourself, kick back, and enjoy. Abby ( @Chemical_Pixie ) has even prepared some...poetry for your entertainment purposes. Finally, we have prepared a SPECIAL SURPRIZE for you all at the end of this Blog Post! Be sure to check it out! We hope you've been kicking off this Hogwart's season the right way (with lots of writing)! 
  As seen in the September News Bulletin, the one and only Lotte ( @LadyL8 ) was chosen by the Prefects to receive an Order of Merlin. She was kind enough to provide us with some responses to interview questions, despite her life being quite busy and hectic at the moment. Thanks so much, Lotte!  How long have you been a part of the Harry Potter fanfiction community? I joined the Harry Potter fanfiction community back in 2010, so about 8 years ago. I was still in middle school back then and had just finished reading all the Harry Potter books for the first time. I was watching some Harry Potter videos on youtube, found a fanfic trailer and got really interested. I started reading fanfics, then writing and eventually I joined some forums. And well, I loved the community so much that 8 years later I'm still here   What is your favorite part about working behind-the-scenes? There are lot of things I love about working behind-the-scenes, but my favourite part is probably being able to give back to a community that has given me a lot over the years. I found the Harry Potter community at a time in my life when things weren't going all that well for me, and the community really helped me feel better. So for me, my favourite part about being a staffer is probably being able to help run a site that could help others like the community helped me. And also, I love teamwork. I work much better in teams than on my own and the staff team is just the best!   Favorite type of fanfiction to read/write? I'll enjoy just about anything as long as it's well-written, but I've always loved stories about minor characters. There are so many interesting minor characters in the Harry Potter books, and I honestly think you could write a good story about just about any one of them. And I really love it when authors take the little facts they have about the character and incorporate them into the story, but then they also add lots of interesting new information. So yeah, I think that's probably my favourite type of fanfiction   What is your OTP? That's a tough question. I don't know. The first pairing I fell in love with in the Harry Potter books was Harry/Ginny, so I've always had a soft spot in my heart for them. I'm also a big James/Lily fan, so it's probably one of those two pairings  What’s your favorite story from mythology and why? My favourite mythology story is definitely the myth of Icarus and Daedalus from greek mythology. The moral of the story is really good and I can relate to it a lot. And being from Norway, I'm also a big fan of norse mythology, and my favourite story from norse mythology is probably the story of the creation of Thor's hammer. I'm not really sure why. I just love Loki in this story     We are proud to present some interviews with one of our two Head Students for September, Abby ( @Chemical_Pixie ), who allowed us to pick brains!  Abby's Interview
Why did you pick the House you are in? III.
My heart holds pride for daring Gryffindor,
My veins bleed loudly in crimson and gold.
Adventures linger on a distant shore,
Online, nearby: exploration so bold.
In competition, I may lose my head,
So watch your back, my friend, I play to win
No passionate arguments go unsaid,
In games or life, my roar comes from within.
I live with a lion’s ferocity,
In the hopes of pleasing Godric the brave.
I face new things with curiosity,
And I’ll take my loyalty to the grave.
I stand for what I believe in: what nerve!
For a betterpurpose I hope to serve.
If there’s one story of yours you would like to tell us about, what would it be and why? To the current and potential readers of A Place Not Far From Here: I would tell you not to believe everything you hear, but you’re going to believe what you want, anyway. For those of you who are curious enough, yes, I dated James Potter while at Hogwarts. And no, I didn’t have a clue of what was to come of him. The signs might have been there, but that’s for me to decide. Oh, you’re wondering about The Cause? They might be worse than the Ministry but perhaps not half as corrupt. Though, I am not so sure anymore… If you’re trying to get me to tell you about the Hallows, stop if you know what’s good for you. And why am I doing this? Do you even need to ask? Signed with all due respect, Amelia Fortescue.
What would be your first question after waking up from being cryogenically frozen for 100 years? Why? “Does the US have equitable education and universal healthcare yet?” Let’s start actualizing our humanity, people!
What TV Channel doesn’t exist but really should? Why? Something without ads
And with book adaptations:
One chapter per slot. Because ads hold us hostage;
Not interested in
Your flashy products. But the art should speak
Fromfirst frame to close
Storytelling comes to life.
What is the best single day (or group of days) on the calendar? Why? For this one, let’s turn to our relationship with the sun: the solstices and equinoxes, for we’re in balance and in transition, a cyclic change as time marches onwards in an ever revolving pattern, bringing forth life and death and hope. What’s the best thing that happened to you this month (or last month)? There was once a lonely soprano
Who auditioned for a guy and piano
Lim’ricks have dirty hearts
So think of muddy carts
And in a new choir the girl began-o!
  This month's story of the month was That's All [M] by Bex ( @beyond the rain )! We have written a review column about this lovely piece, [and we've managed to score an interview with the author][pending Bexy's answers]. Enjoy!  R E V I E W  C O L U M N

Reading Bex's That's All has been a sweet, rewarding journey thus far.  Her use of nonlinear time progression creates an excellent hook when diving into the Prologue, and it just gets better from there. The main character Clara Leavitt, an original character, is perfectly unique, easily relatable, and entirely likable. Having faced difficulties in being a Muggleborn Slytherin while at Hogwarts -- and with the world in shards during the First Wizarding War -- Clara chose to estrange herself from the Wizarding World and pursued a career as a nurse in the Muggle world. Save from communication with her best friend Severus Snape, she had essentially isolated herself from magic all-together until she became reunited with Remus Lupin. They formed a friendship based on need and kindness,  which progressed in a beautifully frustrating slow-burn into a relationship. The nature of their relationship is so natural and so sweet. They create this organic banter, complete with flirting, that is downright hysterical. In each review, I keep using the term "domestic" to describe them because the two have this classic chemistry that is evident even from when they were just friends. They're symbolic of what I envision growing old with someone would look like, and it's incredibly sweet. The two help one another heal and move forward on a number of different levels, which is a difficult thing to do in the aftermath of the first war.  Sweet and slow romance, beautiful characterization, hilarious moments...you really can't ask for more if you want something to fill you to the brim with fluff. I highly recommend this fic, so if you haven't read it -- go do that right now. You'll thank me later. I'm so happy to see this receive a well-deserved spot in the Story of the Month archives! 
Bex's Interview What inspires you to write? Small things. Sometimes I'll read a sentence, or see the way a person acts (in real life or in a film) and my imagination runs with it. There are certain parts of history, the conflicts of that era, the music and even the fashion just really inspires me. I'm also a huge sucker for picspams and aesthetics. The colours and compositions of pretty graphics just give me ideas and before I know it a world's created in my head.

What is a genre/trope that you’ve never written before, but want to try? Fake dating! Or when two friends book two hotel rooms and of course there's only one and it's a double bed. I love seeing characters squirm and battle with their emotions!

Published authors you look up to? Oh wow, this is a tough one. I think J K Rowling - yes she's a controversial figure, but she created one of the biggest, and in my opinion one of the most well known, worlds...all in her head! There's so much detail and it's such a warm place, I have to admire her for that. Right now I'm loving the Bronte sisters too. I actually started by reading a book by the lesser known sister, Anne, and while her structure is more of the time (I read a sentence that was a page and a half long. It was crazy.) she was so forward thinking. She wrote even though her two sisters refused to have her work published, she wrote about feminism and even challenged religion and the middle class way of life...I think that's really cool! Now I've started reading Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte and I've somehow managed to avoid finding out what this very famous book is about for years and it's crazy how much I relate to Jane. In reality the two of us don't have that much in common but Charlotte Bronte has this style that makes you feel like you've known all of her characters for years and I find myself nodding along or just generally reacting to things that happen loudly. It's the effect her writing has on me! 
If you could give one piece of advice to your fellow writers, what would it be? Write for yourself and at your own pace. I know there's a lot of "write everyday even if it's just 100 words" - I haven't written anything in three weeks and I feel great. I'm not stressed about my writing and I'm not worried that people will lose interest in my works. It's lovely to have feedback, but don't write something for other people. Write because you love what you're doing and because it makes you happy.
  What does your planning/outlining method look like? Does it vary from story-to-story? hahahaha. haha. ha well. That's All specifically has about six different documents full of plans, and two books full. Originally I started out by planning using a timeline. It was very informal it had lots of question marks, lots of swearing, and lots of gaps. From chapter two I had to come back and rewrite most of that timeline, and colour code it based on what chapter it was, whose POV it would be in, and how certain I was that this particular part would stay in the book etc. I branched out because the timeline was far too vague and it never stays the same. I also have lots of endings planned depending on what sort of character deaths we're looking at. Those are mostly like drafts, the writing isn't very descriptive it's just very step by step. The books are a different. I'm not sure if this is because I love acting and think dialogue is the most important part of any book/script/whatever you're writing, but the books are full of quotes. Or the quotes are prompts and then I have an entire conversation written out like a script with nothing descriptive. The conversation ends up changing but it's like a starting point or a guideline to just get me motivated. So this is an example of my script plans (this is a possible scene for a chapter that's like...10 years away from where That's All is right now, it'll probably change so it's safe enough for me to share it with you!  
  "That greasy git went to your wedding?!" "He's Clara's closest friend, Pads. I could hardly say no." "Did he at least wash his hair for the big day?" "I wasn't getting married to admire Severus Snape's hair." "Bet you weren't admiring her hair either." *remus rolls eyes rather than rising to SB's bait* "she's sucked the life out of you, trust me - I'd know" **is it too soon for Azkaban jokes idk
  If you couldn’t pair Remus with Claire (blasphemy, I know), which other character would you ship Claire with and why? I honestly have no idea. Clara needs someone who's patient like Remus, someone who would support all her endeavours and that is so non-judgemental that he wouldn't berate her when she does let her guard down and starts acting silly. She was almost paired with Severus, but at the time I loved ss/hg for me to fully consider any other pairing that involved him. In the long run I think it was for the best...they'd have killed each other. Maybe Chandler from friends? Or Joey. I can't see her with anyone else from the HP fandom at least.
  We recently wrapped up our Summer Quarter's Prefect Challenge and announced winners! We have another review column for the lovely winning story below. Nicole ( @teh tarik ), the author of the first place entry To Boil Telephone Porridge | 煲電話粥 [M] has given us a short interview as well, despite having to struggle to type with a broken finger!  R E V I E W  C O L U M N
To Boil Telephone Porridge, an Original Fiction piece, is one of the best short stories I've read in a while. It showcases what societal and personal issues the LGBTQ+ community faces in Malaysia, personified through the main character Daniel and what repercussions he has faced from his family. Not only does this story explore the previously mention cultural aspects, but also puts emphasis on entirely real fears of coming out and the effects it can have.  Nicole's writing is beautiful and the story fits together smoothly, despite leaving the reader wondering, "What happened?" as the story kicks off. Since there is a bit of a mystery to it, which makes this even more fantastic to read, I won't give away the "What happened?" portion of the fic. However, I will say that when Kwai Sim receives a phone call from Daniel, her son, after ten years of not hearing from him, the readers are left with a sense of mystery and wonderment, especially after the opening scene of Daniel's childhood, when everything seemed simple -- like a childhood should be. Though, with implications of Daniel's sexuality and his possible attraction to his best friend, Aizzit, the readers are left with a vague idea as to what had happened between Daniel and his parents. I love how this story also explores Kwai SIm's perspective. It's clear that she loves her son and misses him desperately. She tries to make amends the best way she knows how, but favorite meals are not always the solution to everything as she quickly discovers. There's a moral here about being able to grow and adapt, which is shown through a magnificent ongoing allegory of Kwai Sim and using a mobile phone instead of her old landline. There is an emphasis on how important that ability to change is, especially when it's for the ones you love -- to let go of your old ways and move forward. I can't promise a lot of fluff or a brightly happy resolution, but the note of quite hope that To Boil Telephone Porridge ends on is absolutely genius. I highly recommend this one-shot. 
Nicole's Interview If you could give one piece of advice to your fellow writers, what would it be? There are lots of valid writing advice out there given by writers better and more prolific than me.  Not everything you hear will be useful. But I do believe that you need to find your process when it comes to writing. Find out the best way to get those words going. Get those words out, no matter how slow and painful it is. And if you're already struggling, make sure you don't delete anything. Later you can always come back and fix - and it's easier to work on existing material, at least for me.
  What does your planning/outlining method look like? Does it vary from story-to-story? It varies.  I guess I'm not a very orderly writer, so I really do have to plan, otherwise I'm just going to abandon stuff left right and centre *shoves my drafts folder out of sight*  If I have an idea for a fic, I'll just vomit out everything onto a page without structure - snippets of dialogue, sketches of scenes, details of setting, bits of imagery etc., interesting words - then I'll put them in bullet point. Then I'll start writing. USUALLY. I DON'T FOLLOW MY OWN PROCESS MOST TIMES. 
What inspired you to write an LGBTQ+ fic based out of Malaysia, specifically? I was born in and grew up in Malaysia. Still Malaysian, with close ties to Malaysia, and I still speak the language, even though I don't live there now.  Malaysia comes to me naturally as the place to set my stories in. And also because I follow the LGBTQ+ situation and news in Malaysia. A little bit of context about Malaysia, in current times: this year has been historic for the country, because for the first time since independence from British colonial rule, Malaysians have voted out the old corrupt government, without bloodshed (we have a history of race riots and violence). We have a new government, and everyone I knew was overjoyed, posting non-stop about a New Malaysia, etc. I was one of those with so much hope for the change. Unfortunately in the months following the new government coming to power, there has been a constant sequence of LGBTQ+ controversies, where the community has been persecuted in various ways. We've had politicians openly opposing LGBTQ+, there's been a public caning of a lesbian couple, there's been vicious attacks on the trans community because people 'just felt like it', and the social attitudes toward LGBTQ+ has been so homophobic and vicious and I don't even know. I wrote this story because I've been following LGBTQ+ news in Malaysia for a long time (way before this backlash), and because I'm quietly devastated by everything that's been happening.
What was the most difficult part of writing To Boil Telephone Porridge? I wrote from my own internal experiences, and of my family. I've never actually said this out to anyone on this community, but I am many shades of queer in terms of gender and orientation and have known this since I was thirteen, but never really bothered to acknowledge (homophobic family and all).  I wrote an earlier version of TBTP last year, and that was an incredibly personal one, and the main character was pretty much me. That was too personal to post anywhere. So when I wrote TBTP, I reworked some of my original ideas from that story into this, and distanced myself as much as I could from these characters. Took myself out of the story. But it was still difficult to write, because I had to confront a whole lot of truths about myself. This nearly never got posted, and after writing and re-writing, I finally got sick of it, threw it out into the internet and said to my story, I'm done with you. I'm just done. You've caused me enough pain so begone. So there. But to answer your question in a more direct way - the personal elements of it was the hardest. It required a lot of courage on my part to get through, and to reread. 
 What was your favorite part of To Boil Telephone Porridge? So I'm Malaysian and I speak like a Malaysian - and I definitely enjoyed having my characters use Manglish (Malaysian English) to communicate. That means odd grammar, English mingled with words from other languages, lots of suffixes etc. It felt good to write Manglish, you know? Just like some writers can effortlessly write slangs or use references from different communities or cultures, so I can do the same with Manglish.
 Is there anything you wish you could change about the fic now and, if so, what is it? Oh dear - if I reread this story, I'll want to change everything about it. >.< I definitely wanted to explore a lot more about Daniel and Aizzat's imperfect and at times somewhat desolate relationship. But the story was already getting too long, and the focus always had to be on Daniel and Kwai Sim. I guess the other thing I would change is my adherence to the stupid structure of the whole thing! I actually borrowed the structure of this story (and some phrases as well) from one of my fics - a Star Wars fic lol. I regularly cannibalise parts of my fanfic to put into my OF. The structure was very restrictive, but I guess it worked for a long distance relationship.
  This month, we are debuting a brand new feature of In the Spotlight! Each month, we will be asking you all a question! You can answer the question by responding to that specific blog post. Anyone who comments in the blog post with an answer to the question is put into a randomized raffle to win a little prize. You will have until the 15th of the following month to answer the question to be entered into the raffle. Winners will be announced in that month's Monthly Dilemma section. This month's dilemma: If you had to be half animal/half human, which animal would you pick -- and which half? You have until October 15th to answer!  This month's raffle prize winner will receive a free review on a story of your choice! ~*~ That concludes September's In the Spotlight! Beginning in October, we will begin featuring extras from each House's monthly Common Room Awards! Also be sure to keep your eye out for the Autumn Quarter Prefect Writing Challenge, soon to be announced. We hope you're surviving the Train Ride to Hogwarts (studying by way of Hangman can be tricky, but don't worry -- we have more study options coming your way) as well as enjoying making some new friends. We'll see you again soon for our monthly potpourri Blog Post in a few weeks! ________________________________________________________________ credits
headers and dividers - @facingthenorthwind
  interviewers - @Sleepingbagonthesofa, @Nix , @ShadowRose, @Rumpelstiltskin
review columns | picspams | layout - @Rumpelstiltskin
prefect reviews -  @MadiMalfoy , @Nix  




House Cup Wrap Up | September 7th, 2018

We Prefects are proud to present the T.O.A.D.s (otherwise known as the Totally Outstanding Awards, Dudes!), your totally (un)official awards...dudes. In the aftermath of the Finale, while recovering from the intensity and trying to regain our sanity, one lovely Prefect brought up the idea to present awards to those Housemates and Staff Members that stood out to us during those trying times. Please note that these "awards" are NOT affiliated with the Staff or Officially House Cup business, and they are not worth points or anything like that. They are just a way to show appreciation and spread some love! If you'd like to use your awards, please rehost and credit the appropriate artist. 
 @Aphoride @dirigibleplums @Downbelow @facingthenorthwind @FawkesyLady @forever_dreaming @greisful @hecate @MadiMalfoy @Margaret @potionspartner @Theia Your winners of the House Cup Finale 2018, Ravenclaw managed to find TWO wild cards. Their statistics were as follows: 89 reviews
12,466 words
27 graphics
16 writing tasks
12 puzzles solved To @forever_dreaming for her outstanding reviewing support during Quadpot, we award:
The Hermione Granger Award for a Little Light Reading!
award by emma To @Theia for her amazing Graphicking, we award:
The Luna Lovegood Award for Finding the Beauty in Everything
award by emma   Gryffindor 
@Chemical_Pixie @melian @nott theodore @TreacleTart @poppunkpadfoot @ShadowRose @adorably cute @Sleepingbagonthesofa @Crimson Quill @Deeds @StarFeather @Lady Ausra Gryffindor absolutely smashed their Quodpot matches AND put up top-notch writing, winning several placings in the individual tasks! Their statistics were as follows: 184 reviews
7,994 words
15 graphics
12 writing tasks
12 puzzles solved To @Chemical_Pixie for her conquering of the dreaded Snape Riddle, we award:
The Severus Snape Award for Impossible Riddle-Solving!
award by taylor To @TreacleTart for her phenomenal reviewing skills during Quadpot, we award:
The Hermione Granger Award for a Little Light Reading!
award by emma   Slytherin
@beyond the rain @Rumpelstiltskin @starbuck @teh tarik @MalfoysAngel @Nix Slytherin was small but mighty in this House Cup Finale, managing to pull together a spectacular paper that's absolutely gorgeous. Also, I'm pretty sure the riddles made everyone cry. 45 reviews
6,922 words
23 graphics
12 writing tasks
12 puzzles solved To @starbuck for her excellence in everything and brilliant imagination, we award:
The Basilisk Award for Being Slytherin's Superstar!
award by rumpel To @teh tarik for her incredible riddle-solving abilites, we award:
The Tom Riddle Award for the Mastering of Riddles!
award by rumpel   Hufflepuff @just.a.willow.tree @danicasyer @sunshinedaisieswindmills @Dojh167 @MuggleMaybe @dreamgazer220 @Phoenix Potioneer @Stella Blue @VaguelyCreativeName @ShazaLupin @WriteYourHeartOut Your 2017-2018 House Cup Champions, Hufflepuff was a terrifying force to be reckoned with. Their frankly unbelievable statistics were as follows: 215 reviews
9,733 words
22 graphics
13 writing tasks
12 puzzles solved To @Dojh167 for her criminal mastermind and finding skills, we award:
The Hufflepuff Award for Being an Exceptionally Good Finder!
The Voldemort Award for Being an Evil Genius!
(This is because we couldn't choose which to give you, Sam.)
award by rumpel
award by rumpel To @just.a.willow.tree for making the graphics and going absolutely above and beyond for the whole event, we award: The James Potter Award For Being Awesome Since Birth!
award by taylor Staff To @Ineke for putting up with the Gryffindors and the Ravenclaws, we award:
The David Tennant Award for Excellent GIF Use!
award by emma To @Alopex for answering approximately three billion questions and handling all of us, we award:
The Arabella Figg Award for Herding Cats!
The Minerva McGonagall Award for Having the Patience of a Saint!
award by rumpel
award by rumpel To @TidalDragon for being a Genius Mastermind (and the Kevin), we award:
The Albus Dumbledore Award for Knowing What's Going on Even When Nobody Else Does!
award by taylor To @RoxiMalfoy for being the best morale booster, we award:
The Colin Creevey Award for Motivation!
award by rumpel   That wraps up the T.O.A.D Awards and our 2017/2018 House Cup!  Congratulations to our winners, to all of the wonderful members who contributed and, of course, to the Staff. Together we've written over 36,000 words, 605 reviews and pulled together four wonderful papers. Your Prefects are incredibly proud of you! We hope you've all found some time to relax and recharge but don't get too comfortable... The House Cup kicks off in just over a week and this time, we're running the show.   And trust us, there will be no riddles. 




The Prefect's Celebration Challenge Results | September 2nd, 2018

Starting in June 2018, you were all given the task to honor the many celebrations taking place that month by competing in writing some stories to commemorate a special occasion.We are here today to announce the results of the challenge! 
   For this particular challenge, there were three different prompts for you to choose from. You could write about: vacation: can include a trip or a staycation a “meet the family” situation which includes any kind of families or relationships a topic relating to Pride Month: coming out, first kiss, the first time a character realized they were queer, etc.
  You could write about one (1) of these prompts or combine two (2) of them or even all three (3)! While you were only required to write about one, we will be offering extra reviews for those that attempted multiple prompts in one story but this did not factor into the judging of the entry. You will still receive the reviews even if you do not place in the challenge. We had several amazing entries for this challenge: you make me feel good by @facingthenorthwind
Antebellum [Mature] by @Aphoride
Slow Love by @TheGoldenKneazle
Weasley Family Dinner Shenanigans [Mature] by @adorably cute
Good Things Come in Twos by @MadiMalfoy
heaven taking the place of something evil [Mature] by @dirigibleplums
Somewhere in Between by @ShadowRose
Constellations [Mature] by @ssslytherinnn
The Outset by @Renacerá
passionfruit [Mature] by @poppunkpadfoot
To Boil Telephone Porridge [Mature] by @teh tarik
Locked in a Broom Closet [Mature] by @Nix   But only three could win! Third Place heaven taking the place of something evil [Mature] by dirigibleplums! Prizes: two additional reviews on a story of your choice   Second Place Antebellum [Mature] by Aphoride! prizes: three additional reviews on a story/stories of your choice, a picspam of your story   First Place To Boil Telephone Porridge | 煲電話粥 [Mature] by teh tarik! prizes: five additional reviews on a story/stories of your choice, a picspam of your story, and a feature in the September edition of the Prefect's In the Spotlight blog.   Congratulations to all winners! Please contact @Rumpelstiltskin for your review portion of your prizes. Thank you! Special Note: Each entry will still receive its review, plus any bonus reviews awarded soon. Apologies for the delay! Here is the list of bonus reviews awarded to entrants. To claim your bonus reviews, please contact Rumpelstiltskin and let her know which story(ies) you would like your reviews on. If you believe to be missing a bonus (or any bonuses awarded to you are incorrect), please contact Rumpelstiltskin  

Thanks! Bonus Reviews by Member (not including entry reviews or placement prize reviews):  facingthenorthwind: 2 extra reviews
Aphoride: 2 extra reviews
The Golden Kneezle: 1 extra review
MadiMalfoy: 1 extra review
ShadowRose: 2 extra reviews
ssslytherin: 1 extra review
poppunkpadfoot: 2 extra reviews
teh tarik: 2 extra reviews ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------- graphics [header and awards]: @Rumpelstiltskin
voting and discussion: @dreamgazer220, @just.a.willow.tree, @forever_dreaming, @Rumpelstiltskin
post write-up: @Rumpelstiltskin




In the Spotlight | 31 August, 2018

We are happy to present the August edition of In the Spotlight! We will be interviewing the Head Students of the month, the winner of the Order of Merlin for August, and providing a review column for the Story of the Month. This month, we are including a special section to commemorate the passing of the 19th Amendment in the United States in 1920 and Women's Equality Day (August 26th).    Our well-deserving Head Student's for the month of August, @adorably cute and @Theia, provided their responses to a few of our interview-type questions. Enjoy! adorably cute/Sarah's interview: Why did you pick the House you are in? So, I've always at least partially identified as a Gryffindor (which is what Pottermore sorted me into), though I would say I have a lot of Ravenclaw traits as well and when I was younger, it was a lot harder for me to choose! The older I get, I definitely identify more with and have maybe started to value those Gryffindor traits more, so it's not really a difficult decision any more! If there’s one story of yours you would like to tell us about, what would it be and why? Definitely Home! It's really, uh, spiraled from its original concept but I'm really happy with the way it's turned out. It's about a girl finding herself, family, friends, and love, after transferring to Hogwarts when she has to move in with her Dad. I just really love what this story has become, I love all the characters and their relationships, I even (now) love these darn Quidditch statistics I made up for this thing! If you could only read one book (or fanfic) again for the rest of your life, what would it be? Is it cheating to pick Harry Potter? Do I have to pick one? If so, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. If it is cheating to pick one of them, then maybe The Great Gatsby. What is your favorite HP Era and why? To write, it's definitely Next Gen. I love how much freedom there is with it so you can pretty much do whatever you want with it! To read, it's a toss up between Next Gen and Marauders. probably for a similar reason. I love seeing the worlds people build (because even with the Marauders era, there's still so much we don't know) and how everyone characterizes different characters! Do you have a method of story plotting that you’d like to share? HA! Ok, so my method for story plotting is so basic and terrible, it's like

Chapter 10 gang goes to bar plot point y plot point z, etc, etc and then underneath those bullets I will sometimes have pieces of dialogue that I've thought of that I want to add in. But since this outline is SO BASIC, I frequently end up adding more dialogue/information than I thought was going to be in a chapter and accidentally end up with two chapters instead of one. You get to ask one HP character (alive or dead) three questions. What are those questions? Ahh this was a tough one! But I think I'd like to ask James Potter (the first): 1) how they actually created the Marauder's Map and all of the details about its creation
2) what their best prank was
3) how he finally got Lily to agree to go out with him   Theia/Nim's interview: Why did you pick the House you are in? I was initially sorted into Ravenclaw on Pottermore, and I could relate to the qualities associated with the house, so that's how I made my first decision to be in it. But moving forward, I realised I have a mix of some Slytherin and Hufflepuff qualities as well, and I did shift to Slytherin for a brief period of time a few years ago. However, I chose to be back in Ravenclaw because I've made some of the best friends, amazing memories, and received a LOT of support from people in this house, and it will always feel a lot more like home than any other.  If there’s one story of yours you would like to tell us about, what would it be and why? Self-promotion is not my thing - the self-doubt is so real and I get unsure about everything I write. Buuut I do have a fic that I'm working on (which isn't on HPFT yet) that I'm super excited about. It's an Albus Potter- centric fic in which he's a thrill-seeking asexual curse breaker in his mid-twenties. It's an exploration of an impulsive personality, familial tension, and the stigma around being ace packed into an action/adventure plotline. It's a lot bigger than any other stories I've planned out and I'm psyched to complete it and put it up!  What is your favorite memory involving one of your eight cats? Do you know how HARD it is to answer this? I have eight cats, and they all hold a very dear place in my heart. I can't pick out just one favourite memory but I think my life changed when each of them came into my life. They were all rescues/adoptions and were in dire need of some love and care. Looking at them growing up into healthy, well-adjusted cats has got to be the best part of this lifestyle (and it makes all the medical bills and poop-cleaning worth it :P)  Describe your favorite tattoo (either one that you have, have done, or have seen). Again, a super difficult question to answer! The one I've done also happens to be the one I have - I have a little cat face just above my right ankle which I tattooed on myself. It was the first one I've ever done and I'm super proud of it even if it's not the best technically. In terms of one I have that's tattooed by someone else, I'd go with the Tardis on my upper arm - it has the cleanest lines I've ever seen, has settled so beautifully, and depicts my love for the fandom as well as a deeper meaning - that we're all bigger on the inside and we have the power to move through time and space, affecting the world around us through our actions.  I'm also taking this opportunity to highlight some of my favourite artists across the world:  Dmitriy Samohin - based in Ukraine, does AMAZING colour-realism. Victor Portugal - artist in Krakow, Poland, who specialises in dark-themed realistic pieces John Monteiro - artist in Brazil, delicate linework and illustrative custom tattoos  Megan Jean Morris - Nevada based, does brilliant colour-realism (yay for women artists!!)  Eva krbdk - Turkey, and her style is absolutely rad. She takes realistic landscapes/portraits and packs them into tiny geometric shapes.  I can keep going on and on (and if anyone wants more recommendations, feel free to PM) but these are a few who deserve some shout-outs. They're also pretty expensive since they're so accomplished and have many years of experience, but if you get the chance to get tattooed by them you absolutely must do so!  If you have any one piece of writing advice to give to others, what would it be? I think everyone reaches a point where it seems like they're "not good enough" or "not getting ideas" or just feeling the pressure of delivering something amazing. But I think we all need to remember why we started writing in the first place and stick to it. Let yourself have fun with what you're doing, without giving too much importance to how it's turning out - the first draft is meant to be messy and filled with holes but once it's complete, your story is DONE and it's such an overwhelming feeling. You can always edit it later on and polish it up, but don't stop yourself before you've finished writing it! (this is something I remind myself of every day as well) If you could pick one, with all of the benefits and none of the downsides, which would it be and why: the Elder Wand, the Resurrection Stone, the Cloak of Invisibility? The Elder Wand, especially if its without the downsides. I'd love to be able to perform powerful magic that can help people all over the world. (and myself of course haha :P)    The Staffer awarded the August order of Merlin -- the lovely @PaulaTheProkaryote -- has provided some responses to a small interview as well.  PaulaTheProkaryote/Paula's interview: How long have you been a part of the Harry Potter fanfiction community? I've been around for as long as I can remember! I used to hang out on Quizilla reading Drarry and day dreaming about being the perfect Mary Sue to really change Draco.  What's your favorite part about working behind-the-scenes? I love watching the way that each house tackles events so differently. Hufflepuffs are legendary for their spreadsheets and organization. Ravenclaws are so, so creative in everything they do. Gryffindors roll up on pure enthusiasm and dominate. Slytherins are crazy efficient and not afraid to delegate jobs. It's just amazing how each house has their own problem-solving style.  Favorite type of fanfiction to read/write? Fluffy happily ever afters. I can read angst all the way to the end, but I really need that happily ever after or else I'm mopey for weeks. Oh, and AUs. I have an obsessions with AUs.  What's your OTP? My tried and true OTP is Jily. I love so many other pairings, but I really love the portrayal of each of the characters and their growth together.  What is your favorite non-HP fandom? For actual content I love the Raven Boys the most, but as far as non-HP fandom community I'd have to say Star Wars. There's so much love and support there. I've met some of the most wonderful people through it.  Have video games ever inspired any of your writing? If  so, explain. Or do you generally keep those two interests separate (and why)? I try to keep them separate to the best of my abilities, but I do have an Elder Scrolls inspired Founders fic sitting in a google doc that I might publish one day. Each founder is from a different province in Tamriel (the world the game is set in). An orc Helga Hufflepuff is pretty awesome tbh.  Can you tell us more about your interest in insects and your collection? I signed up last minute for an entomology course a few years ago because a professor I adore needed a few more students to actually host the class. We spent hours wandering parks collecting specimens and we had class dinners where we'd set up light traps. I loved it so much I kept up the hobby! I have several hundred insects that have been mounted and even more in jars to be mounted. My favorite specimen I have is a "trash bug" or lacewing larvae. It collects debris on it's back to sneak into aphid colonies and feast. They're super cool and it was a neat find.   Emma provided a wonderful review column for @esmeraude's featured Story of the Month fic, ministry memorandums (from the mysteries) [Mature]. Ministry Memorandums (From the Mysteries) was one of the first fics I read on HPFT and I fell in love with it instantly. The concept is genius -- Isobel is hardly the first person to write an epistolary fic, of course, but the level of detail she puts into the condition of the letters, the mood of the owls and the provenance of the attached items really elevates the fic to something special. That, and the rapid decline from very professional sounding missives to all-caps swearing is a delight. The fic is mostly OCs, but even though there's no prior knowledge to rely on, everyone has really excellent characterisation just from things like how they write their memos or what condition they arrive in. It's pitch perfect British bureaucracy-themed absurdity, full of things not being people's department, accidentally forwarded memos and owls vindictively defecating on things. It is also surprisingly heart-warming, considering all that. If you're looking for a hilarious fic that really effectively utilises the HP universe to tell a story that could only happen in a Harry Potter fic, be sure to check out this one! Also, where can I donate to the communal fund to send Juniper Blye on an extremely peaceful seaside holiday?   Measuring 'feminism' or 'progress' by women's suffrage is inherently a Western-centric and flawed view, as many communities had women in positions of power and leadership and they had full voices in the community until Europeans came and imposed restrictive gender roles on them. We also frequently speak of 'women's suffrage' when we mean 'white women's suffrage', as voting rights were denied to women of colour for far longer. All that said, the 26th of August was Women's Equality Day in the United States in commemoration of the 1920 ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment to the constitution that gave white women the right to vote. As such, here are some facts about women's suffrage! (The gaps in some of these facts are due to information not being readily available; please comment if you know something more!) The Kingdom of Hawai'i gave men and women equal voting rights in its very first constitution in 1840, although the voting rights of both men and women were curtailed by an 1852 amendment. Aotearoa New Zealand was the first still-existing country to give (some) women the right to vote: in 1893, both Pākehā (white) and Māori women gained that right. However, as voting rights were tied to citizenship, Chinese New Zealanders were unable to become citizens or vote until 1951. Australia gave white women and Māori women the right to vote in 1902, but Asian, Indian and Pacific Islander women had to wait until 1925, and Indigenous Australian women until 1962. In the first Finnish election with female suffrage (1907), they elected 19 women to parliament. Every European country except France allowed women to vote in at least some municipal elections by 1943; France finally followed suit in 1944. In Switzerland, women did not have the right to vote in federal elections until 1971. The last Swedish canton (state) to give women the vote at a local level was Appenzell Innerrhoden in 1991. -------------------------------------- graphics [header and dividers]: emma | interview gathering: madi, emma, deni, and taylor | review column: emma | women's suffrage facts: emma | sotm reviews: nix and rumpel | layout: rumpel

Common Room Awards: Hufflepuff Edition | August 5th, 2018

Welcome to the fourth and final installment of the Common Room Awards! This post will feature the annual Hufflepuff house awards, also known as the Golden Chalices.  
For this series, each winner not only has the opportunity to be featured in this blog, but they also got to participate in a short Q&A about their story. Enjoy! *** The 2018 Golden Chalice Awards

Best Light Fic Nominees: Footsteps in the Forest by @Dojh167
ministry memorandums (from the mysteries) (M) by @esmeraude
Afternoon Tea by @Renacerá
Runner-Up: Footsteps in the Forest by @Dojh167
WINNER: ministry memorandums (from the mysteries) (M) by @esmeraude Question: The epistolary format in “ministry memorandums” is absolutely brilliant! How did you plan and keep track of all the different humorous plot threads running through this one-shot, especially with this unconventional format? Answer: Er... I didn’t? I wrote ministry memorandums (from the mysteries) during NaNo 2016(?) because I was working on the first in a series of fics featuring Susan Bones as an Unspeakable, and I was struggling with the prose in the first fic because I was still figuring out who my characters were, so I decided to write a “short” piece featuring Blye’s very different perspective on Susan’s first day of work. The beginning — Blye’s issues with Edalbert Goffrey and Susan’s lack of ID or uniform — were planned because they’re mentioned in Only Human (which remains unposted) and I ended up having so much fun writing it that I just included random events as I wrote. I think I managed to write it all in one or two sittings? I know one thing that helped me with keeping everything on track was making notes at the bottom of my doc for what events needed to happen next (since poor Blye was dealing with several things at once) and kind of focusing on one thing at a time, for example so that makes it easier for the reader imo. I actually had ministry memorandums lurking in my gdocs for maybe a year? ish? because I was nervous about posting it, so the response that I’ve received is phenomenal and I really appreciate all the love I’ve received on this one-shot.
Best Dark Fic Nominees: Hope by @Jo Raskoph
five lives (M) by @just.a.willow.tree
Then Time Stood Still (M) by @Levana
Ninety-Two Seconds in Catatonia (M) by @MuggleMaybe
Runner-Up (TIE): Hope by @Jo Raskoph
Ninety-Two Seconds in Catatonia (M) by @MuggleMaybe
WINNER: five lives (M) by @just.a.willow.tree Question: What was the inspiration behind the four lives Astoria was going to save? If you can tell us without spoiling anything, how did you decide on the fifth? Answer: First I picked which five characters I wanted Astoria to save. And I can’t really explain how I chose the characters besides the fact that I found them to be really interesting (except for Michael Corner in the first life, who was mostly someone we were all aware of but unfamiliar with). Like there’s a special place in my heart for each of the four characters that came after Michael Corner, so I just tried to fit them all in. And then the way that Astoria saved them followed; a lot of the methods are kind of tied to the personalities of the characters that she saved. The fifth one…I just went for a story I’ve heard countless times over in testimonies from war survivors. And it’s also present in, unfortunately, the everyday lives of some people. So sorry for the vagueness haha, I’m trying my best not to be spoiler-y.

Most Addicting Story

Nominees: Chicks Before Broomsticks (M) by @banshee
Nights Like These (M) by @banshee
The Seer (M) by @Phoenix_Flames
The Harder They Fall (M) by @victoria_anne
Runner-Up: Nights Like These (M) by @banshee
WINNER: The Harder They Fall (M) by @victoria_anne Question: There’s so much happening in “The Harder They Fall”, and it definitely makes for an action-packed read. What’s the one thing you would tell writers who want to keep their readers intrigued enough to hit the ‘next chapter’ button? Answer: The chapter should always end with a question, with a cliffhanger! As long as readers want to know what happens next, they'll keep clicking to the next chapter. I think it's important to keep raising the stakes and introducing conflict in each chapter, too.
Most Inclusive Story Nominees: Chicks Before Broomsticks (M) by @banshee
When I Go Out With You (M) by @Dojh167
lazy days (M) by @just.a.willow.tree
Icarus (M) by @Stella Blue
Runner-Up: When I Go Out With You (M) by @Dojh167
WINNER: Icarus (M) by @Stella Blue Question: Diversity in fics is always, always a good thing. What’s one thing you would recommend to people who are including representation in their fics, especially for cultures/sexualities/genders/etc. other than their own? Answer: Well, the one thing I'd most recommend is YES, INCLUDE IT.  The world needs those stories. As for how to write someone different from yourself, just get into your character's shoes for a little while and try to see the world through their eyes - diversity of course isn't just a box to check off, people's backgrounds and experiences shape them into who they are.  So my main suggestion is simply to listen to/read things by people who've lived the experiences you're trying to write about; do research, as you would for writing anything.
Best Dialogue Nominees: The Prince and the Pirate by @banshee
All the truth about Jimmy Portman (M) by @Felpata_Lupin
lazy days (M) by @just.a.willow.tree
The Maidens and the Tower (M) by @MuggleMaybe
Unapologetic by @victoria_anne
Waltz by @WriteYourHeartOut
Runner-Up: The Prince and the Pirate by @banshee
WINNER: All the truth about Jimmy Portman (M) by @Felpata_Lupin Question: You have so many characters in “All the truth about Jimmy Portman”! How do you manage to keep all their characters and voices so distinct from one another, especially regarding dialogue? Answer: Oh, wow... do I manage it? Sometimes I really feel like all my characters are all basically the same and their voices just mix up and blend together... so it's a relief if they feel distinct and recognizable, thank you! I don't really think I have a method...? I think my writing in general consists of putting my characters in a certain situation and see how they behave, like it is a biology experiment, if that makes sense. Having that approach, dialogue generally comes quite easy to me, it's the first thing that forms in my head before I try to put it into writing. This is also why I'm not equally good at description and plotting, I guess... For the Jimmy cast specifically... well... for canon characters I just try to imit what JK did (this applies to Ron, Hermione, the twins, Draco, the teachers...). The Marauders come relatively easy, too, since I've written them so much that they feel like real people to me by now. I think the biggest struggle are Jimmy and Neville (technically, they are canon characters too, but so different from their canon equivalent that they are basically OCs...) They have very similar temperaments and they just snap most of the time so sometimes I'm not sure I'm doing very well with their characterization... but I do love those two troublemakers... (Dunno if I actually replied to your question or just rambled uselessly... my apologies... )
Best Description Nominees: The Firework-Maker’s Daughter by @esmeraude
spring barges in by @Jo Raskoph
The Maidens and the Tower (M) by @MuggleMaybe

Runner-Up: spring barges in by @Jo Raskoph
  WINNER: The Firework-Maker’s Daughter by @esmeraude Question: The writing style in “The Firework-Maker’s Daughter” seems effortlessly beautiful. Is it difficult to switch between styles such as the epistolary “ministry memorandums” and the beautiful prose in this one? How do you manage to write such breathtaking descriptions? Answer: Aww, thank you!!   I wouldn’t say it’s difficult for me personally, because since quite early on as an author I’ve tried to be as versatile as I can possibly be. Also, every time I write, I hear my English high school teacher’s voice in my head shrieking, “Expand! Expand! Expand!”, because high school Isobel wrote in short, succinct sentences and skipped a lot of descriptions, so I guess I have to credit her? She was my favourite teacher in high school, and she encouraged us to include adjectives, consider what an impartial reader would think (because we as authors have a little TV in our heads playing out scenes and our readers don’t) and remember to describe the character’s surroundings. With TFMD, I wanted Roxanne to be the main role in the story, but because there was a word limit in the challenge I originally wrote it for, I decided to write from the other characters’ perspectives in order to show more of Roxanne and her actions. With ministry memorandums, I was limited in description because of the epistolary style, so I included attachments and “arrived in [condition]” and went overboard with those. (The one with the cursed book is my favourite, ngl.  ) One of my top tips, however, is to read more! I know this sounds slightly hypocritical coming from someone who is woefully behind on her “Fanfic To Read List” but it honestly helps. I have novels that were inspired by Aphoride and dirigibleplums, and I remember a couple of years ago, before I “met” nott theodore, I read her fic The Nightingale’s Lament and her descriptions for Vicky’s grief just blew me away, and considering how Sian used Vicky’s physical surroundings to connect to her grief about Colin’s death taught me a lot about describing angsty emotions. (To be completely honest, with the quality of writing in the HPFT community, I could just... list everyone on HPFT and it would be true?) I’ve found that reading inspiring writing can in turn inspire you, which helps with writing something out of your comfort zone, iyswim? Thank you so much for such interesting questions, they were so much fun to answer (and surprisingly hard? I take my hat off to whoever came up with those questions!) and particular thanks go to the Hufflepuffs who nominated and voted for my fics. I love and appreciate you all. 
Best Original Fiction Nominees: What is life by @Felpata_Lupin
across the great expanse by @just.a.willow.tree
The Maidens and the Tower (M) by @MuggleMaybe
From by @Stella Blue
Runner-Up: What is life by @Felpata_Lupin
WINNER: The Maidens and the Tower (M) by @MuggleMaybe Question: Based on the summary, this story is based off of ‘Maid Maleen’ from the Brothers’ Grimm. What drew you to choose that fairytale? Are you going to be putting any twists on the original tale? Answer: I was inspired to write The Maidens and the Tower because of the Fairytale Challenge. I knew I wanted something different, something that hadn’t been famously Disneyfied. When I looked through my Grimms collection, Maid Maleen caught my eye because it’s pretty complex, and also because the main character refuses an arranged marriage. Pretty feminist compared to most fairytales! There are many twists! The setting is arguably the most dramatic change. The Maidens and the Tower is set on the American prairie during pioneer times, and I’ve altered the scenarios to fit that. Also, the romance is f/f, which causes some significant plot changes Thank you so much to everyone who supports this story!!! ❤️ 
Best One-Shot Nominees: five lives (M) by @just.a.willow.tree
you again by @just.a.willow.tree
First Lit, Last Burning (M) by @MuggleMaybe
Goodbye, Love, Goodbye (M) by @MuggleMaybe
Ninety-Two Seconds in Catatonia (M) by @MuggleMaybe
All or Nothing by @Stella Blue
Waltz by @WriteYourHeartOut
Runner-Up: Goodbye, Love, Goodbye (M) by @MuggleMaybe
WINNER: Waltz by @WriteYourHeartOut Question: Your take on Scorose is so unique and refreshing, and it’s no wonder that this one-shot has received so much love since it was written! What was the inspiration behind “Waltz” that made you write it in the first place? Answer: Thank you so much! ^.^ The inspiration for Waltz came from a Staff prompt around Christmas time a few years ago. There was around 25 days to get submissions in, and I actually spent the first 20 working on a completely different story, but I kept getting stuck and finally had to admit to myself that I wasn't going to finish that one on time, so I had to hop plots right at the end, and this story is just what popped out instead. The biggest inspiration behind it was wanting to take the "stuck under the mistletoe" trope and put a new twist on it. I have to admit, I've seen a lot of stories use mistletoe in a way that keeps you forever trapped until you kiss, no exceptions, and it always just made me feel a little uncomfortable, that forced version of things, so I thought I'd make the option to not kiss a seemingly harmless consequence: a glitter bomb. From there, I just wanted to play with someone who would not see a glitter bomb as harmless at all, and that's how Rose developed. I felt that her struggles reminded me of Hermione, so her daughter made sense as the choice. Scorpius' character came from someone I thought would be very sweetly matched with my version of Rose.
Best Multi-Chap Nominees: When I Go Out With You (M) by @Dojh167
The Skull Beneath the Skin (M) by @esmeraude
All the truth about Jimmy Portman (M) by @Felpata_Lupin
Beyond Repair by @MuggleMaybe
The Harder They Fall (M) by @victoria_anne
Runner-Up: Beyond Repair by @MuggleMaybe
WINNER: The Harder They Fall (M) by @victoria_anne Question: “The Harder They Fall” is such a well-planned story! Do you have any advice for planning novels with multiple threads and plotlines? Answer: Thank you so much! I think if you have a complex plot with multiple threads, it's important to plan ahead, and to be aware that new ideas will appear as you write. Everything must tie into the main story, too!
  Best Original Character Nominees: Hollie Finnegan in Chicks Before Broomsticks (M) by @banshee
Summer Phillips in When Summer Fades (M) by @Stella Blue
Finn Blishwick in The Harder They Fall (M) by @victoria_anne
Josephine Adaire in Lying Josephine (M) by @WriteYourHeartOut Runner-Up: Summer Phillips in When Summer Fades (M) by @Stella Blue
WINNER: Josephine Adaire in Lying Josephine (M) by @WriteYourHeartOut Question: Josephine is such beautiful OC. Tell us about her creation, and how her personality and characterization came to be! Answer: Ah, thank you! Josephine first came to be when I was pretty new to the fanfic world and was really only reading these very popular stories, all of which seemed to star the same female OC (aka Mary Sue's). I decided I wanted to try writing a novel-length fanfic with a female OC of my own, and my inspiration was really just to make her as unlike the ones I'd kept running into as possible. Because of the structure of Lying Josephine, information about her background is very slowly released, but she does have a lot of reasons for how she became who she is. When I decided to make her such a quiet character, I just wanted to find deeper roots behind it. And I really did just want her to be... honestly quite average in about every way. Like, that she did poorly in school, she's not exactly quick-witted or funny, she's easily overlooked and forgotten, she isn't brave, she has very few talents, and she is deeply flawed. She will know the right thing to do and still choose the selfish thing. She's honestly a Hufflepuff in the way that other Houses sometimes snobbishly label all Hufflepuff's to be: a leftover, who didn't fit elsewhere. But somehow - I hope, at least - her kind of overall lack of interesting and intriguing traits made her a character you want to follow and root for. She surprises herself along the way, and in turn, surprises us. She finds herself in a situation where she keeps telling herself she's doing it for the good of other people, but it's really for her, no matter what she tries to convince herself of, and regardless of the fact that it may help them too, the driving force is herself. And the situation she's in causes her to discover and face who she truly is.   Best Depiction of a Major Canon Character Nominees: Lily Evans in untrue, untrue (M) by @just.a.willow.tree
George Weasley in Then Time Stood Still (M) by @Levana
Lily Evans in Beyond Repair by @MuggleMaybe
Hermione Granger in Life As We Know It (M) by @Slytherinchica08
Luna Lovegood in How to Catch a Snorkack by @victoria_anne
Runner-Up: Lily Evans in untrue, untrue (M) by @just.a.willow.tree
  WINNER: George Weasley in Then Time Stood Still (M) by @Levana Question: As we all know, you adore the Weasley twins. Was it difficult to write George in his state of grieving? Was his characterization a struggle, or was it second nature for you? Answer: Yes and no? If that makes sense. On a basic level, I didn't find it particularly difficult to write George in a state of grieving - I've always found angst a lot easier to write than happy fluff. And of course I love to make my favorite characters sad. The thing that I struggled with the most was trying to accurately portray the feelings that George would have. I've killed of characters before, but in the past I've always stopped the fic at their death. This was the first time I was actually writing the emotional trauma that would occur. The whole time I was writing this I was flipping back and forth between, "am I going over the top?" and "am I not intense enough?" I also struggled with deciding how fast George would come to terms with Fred's death. Originally I had thought I would have George come to terms with Fred's death by the end of the fic, but that didn't seem natural to me (and also since the Wiki says that George never truly got over his twin's death ). Considering it was Fred that died, I realized that 5000 words probably wasn't long enough for George to get over it. So I threw together a last minute ending that was a "nope, i'm not fine but I might be in the future."
  Best Depiction of a Minor Canon Character Nominees: Dean Thomas in Nights Like These (M) by @banshee
Justin Finch-Fletchley in Goodbye, Jus by @Felpata_Lupin
Hannah Abbott in Hope by @Jo Raskoph
Astoria Greengrass in five lives (M) by @just.a.willow.tree
Astoria Greengrass in lazy days (M) by @just.a.willow.tree
Stan Shunpike in I Believe You by @Leo
Anthony Goldstein in First Lit, Last Burning (M) by @MuggleMaybe
Runner-Up: Astoria Greengrass in five lives (M) by @just.a.willow.tree
WINNER: Justin Finch-Fletchley in Goodbye, Jus by @Felpata_Lupin Question: Justin Finch-Fletchley was written so beautifully! Could you tell us some of your headcanons about him, and why you wrote him as loving mathematics? Answer: I will be honest, I've never thought about Justin's character much... the only reason I wrote him is because he came up as a prompt for @dreamgazer220's "The Say Goodbye Challenge". But I do love him now! I honestly projected a lot in defining his personality and put a lot of myself into him. He is quiet and shy, values friendship a lot and wants what's best for everyone, even if that means stepping aside and sacrificing his own happiness (basically, a true Hufflepuff). He's also the kind of person who overthinks too much and acts too little (which again is something we have in common and, coincidentally, a friend and ex colleague of mine sustains it's a very Mathematician trait... ) His love for Mathematics mirrors my love for Mathematics (let's be honest, Maths are fascinating!) but I think for Justin Maths is mainly his way to keep contact with reality and make it make sense. Maths have precise rules that are fixed and can't be changed and Justin needs that sort of certainty, because life and emotions are just so unpredictable.
Best Character Arc/Development Nominees: Seamus Finnegan in Nights Like These (M) by @banshee
Hannah Abbott in When I Go Out With You (M) by @Dojh167
Regulus Black in When Summer Fades (M) by @Stella Blue
Finn Blishwick in The Harder They Fall (M) by @victoria_anne
Runner-Up: Hannah Abbott in When I Go Out With You (M) by @Dojh167
  WINNER: Finn Blishwick in The Harder They Fall (M) by @victoria_anne Question: One of the most satisfying things to read is a good character growth, and your OC, Finn Blishwick, certainly has that! How did you plot his development from “Hero” to the end of “The Harder They Fall”? Were there any struggles in the process? Answer: I really enjoy writing characters who go through a major change throughout the novel, so these kinds of characters come quite naturally to me. I took his most prominent flaw (arrogance) and came up with ways to turn someone like him into a more humble, kind person, and wrote them into the story. The biggest struggle I had was that the change didn't happen quickly or easily, or completely changed him into someone else. Particularly after the midpoint, I was really poking my beta for approval!
  Best Friendship Nominees: Hollie Finnegan and Alec Williams in Chicks Before Broomsticks (M) by @banshee
Emmeline, Edgar, Lily, and Severus in Seven years later by @Felpata_Lupin
George and Ron Weasley in Then Time Stood Still (M) by @Levana
Regulus Black and Summer Phillips in When Summer Fades (M) by @Stella Blue
  Runner-Up: Regulus Black and Summer Phillips in When Summer Fades (M) by @Stella Blue
  WINNER: George and Ron Weasley in Then Time Stood Still (M) by @Levana Question: A good sibling relationship is always a fun and fulfilling read. Why did you choose to focus on the friendship/siblinghood between Ron and George for “Then Time Stood Still”? Answer: As we all know, I'm the resident Weasley Twin Queen but my Over The Top Love extends to the entire Weasley family in general. Before joining HPFT I was getting a little annoyed with (what felt like) constantly seeing Weasley Bashing and specifically Ron Bashing fics on AO3. So, when I was writing this fic I wanted to draw attention to a character that I felt was underappreciated by parts of the fandom. The line, "people didn't usually give him enough credit, but Ron cared deeply for his older brothers." was actually a low-key jab at Ron Bashing fics. I actually originally entertained the idea of using Percy - someone else who the fandom loves to hate - but after thinking about it I really liked the possible dynamic between the Twins and Ron. The Twins are often characterized as goofy and not always the most caring of older brothers, so I wanted to play with the idea that Ron would skip going to Percy with his problems and go to the Twins. On top of that, I liked the idea of the tables then being turned - with the older brother leaning on the younger brother for support. With that I wanted to show the maturity that Ron has. And of course I just love Ron.
Best Reviewer Nominees:
@Stella Blue
Runner-Up: @Stella Blue
WINNER: @just.a.willow.tree Question: Your reviews are always such a joy to receive - they’re so thoughtful with a lot of encouragement and details from the story/chapter. Can you tell us a little about your review process, and if you have any advice for those wanting to leave more helpful reviews? Answer: Eep, thank you! I’m so happy that my reviews give joy, but I honestly have little to no process while writing them haha. I usually just read the chapter through and then spend a page in my review doc gushing, rambling, and/or offering many thoughts (most of which are probably neither helpful nor relevant). My general tip is (and sometimes I forget to do this because I’m too busy reacting to all the characters and the storylines *sobs*): always leave at least one compliment. It’s always well-deserved and it’ll definitely make the author happy! Mostly, while I review, I try to touch on all the major events of the chapter, and then if I ever stumble across a particularly brilliant or beautiful line, I quote it. However, I forget events/lines so easily, and I always find that I’ve neglected to mention certain things, so sometimes for multi-chaps I’ll just continue saying things I forgot previously, in a review for the next chapter haha. But just show your love for the story, and I’m sure your review will be appreciated.  ❤️ *** And that's a wrap on our House Awards segment! Congratulations to all of our nominees, runner ups, and winners across all houses! It's definitely an accomplishment to be proud of 
We hope you enjoyed this series on our blog, and keep an eye out right here for future posts!


interviews composed by @dreamgazer220 and @just.a.willow.tree
header done by @just.a.willow.tree




Common Room Awards: Gryffindor Edition | July 29th, 2018

We are proud to present the third installment of the Prefect's mini-series on the Common Room Awards. This week we are featuring The Pride of Gryffindor Awards (or POGs). In addition to being featured, each winner has had the opportunity to answer a question or two in a miniature Q&A session! Enjoy!   Best Action/Adventure   Nominees: 1. Coffee and Curse-Breakers (M) by  @Pixileanin
2. Project Azkaban (M) by  @Unwritten Curse
3. Year of the Snake (M) by @melian   Winner: Coffee and Curse-Breakers (M) by @Pixileanin!       Best Angst   Nominees: 1. Golden Girl (M) by  @Crimson Quill 2. Parisian Scars (M) by @CrimsonQuill 3. Silence Cuts Loudest Through the Chaos (M) by @1917farmgirl 4. silence. death. (M) by @ poppunkpadfoot 5. Thin (M) by @ ShadowRose   Winner: TIE: Silence Cuts Loudest Through the Chaos (M) by @1917farmgirl TIE: silence. death. (M) by @poppunkpadfoot   Question for 1917farmgirl: What was the most difficult part of portraying the dynamic of Arthur and Merlin’s relationship? Answer: I usually don't have too much trouble with their relationship, as it's my favorite part of the show and writing the characters.  I think for this particular story, two things come to mind. Very early in the story, Merlin and Arthur are rather at odds with each other.  That was hard to write - these two boys on the outs with each other. I'm glad it didn't last long. And later in the fic, Merlin loses his ability to speak.  And it's been a bit of a challenge to find ways for these two to communicate.   Question for poppunkpadfoot: What sort of steps did you have to take to write a story relating AIDS in the LGBTQ community to the HP-verse? Answer: I guess my steps were basically: (1) Double-check timeline (2) Write. First I had to quickly sort out how exactly the timeline of the AIDS crisis related to the timeline of HP-verse and the First Wizarding War (which led to me abandoning my plans to write about Sirius and switching over to Remus instead :P) - obviously I knew there was some amount of overlap but I needed to make sure the specifics worked out. Then I quickly double-checked how the timeline and trajectory in the UK compared to in the US, which is more my area of expertise. And after that I just... wrote, I guess. The whole story flowed very naturally. Even the creation of OCs (Tracy and Oliver) just kind of happened as I went.
I should mention though that I've researched HIV/AIDS in the past, chose my current college program with the aim of going into HIV/AIDS advocacy as a career, and am starting a placement in September with an HIV/AIDS and Hep C outreach and advocacy organization. So while I'm very, VERY far from an expert, I did have enough background knowledge to just sit down and write without a whole bunch of pre-writing steps.   Best First Wizarding War   Nominees: 1. Behind the Curtain by @Cassius Alcindor 2. The Possibility of After (M) by @Unwritten Curse   Winner: The Possibility of After (M) by @Unwritten Curse   Question for Winner: How did you go about handling both Amelia and Fabian’s grief and translating it into the form of a relationship? Answer: I guess I'll answer the latter question first--about how I translated their grief into a relationship. Let me start by saying that I have personally experienced the loss of a loved one, and it's an incredibly isolating experience. It's hard to feel heard when you're surrounded by people who don't know grief. When you are with someone else who is grieving, especially someone who is grieving the same life as you, the connection is inexplicable. It feels like coming home. It's magnetic. And for these two, it translated into romantic chemistry--well, sexual tension, at the very least. But despite them both grieving Edgar, they are grieving in different ways, as we all do. Amelia is very much retreating inward and blocking out the rest of the world while Fabian is both literally and figuratively shouting his way through grief.   Best Friendship/Family   Nominees: 1. Harry and Lily Luna Potter - Family in My Little Princess by @StarFeather 2. Leanne and Jonathan (OC) - Family and Leanne, Jonathan, and Katie Bell - Friendship in Dear Katie (M) by @nott theodore   Winner: TIE: Harry and Lily Luna Potter - Family in My Little Princess by @StarFeather TIE: Leanne and Jonathan (OC) - Family and Leanne, Jonathan, and Katie Bell - Friendship in Dear Katie (M) by nott theodore   Question for StarFeather: The father/daughter dynamic between Harry and Lily is adorable -- what inspired you to write about them? Answer: Just an image of Harry and his daughter popped up in my mind after I made up my mind to participate in Abbie's story challenge. And I feel my child growing up every day, so most of the plot was inspired by the fact.   Question for nott theodore: How did you handle establishing/showcasing the plot using epistolary format? Was it more difficult than it would have been if you had used a more traditional writing style? Answer: I was quite lucky in this story, in that it's a retelling of my story Opals and Fire, which explores Katie's time in St. Mungo's - or rather, what she's experiencing when she's lying in hospital.  I'd already (loosely) crafted the characters of Leanne (who admittedly is a very minor character from the books) and Jonathan for that story, so finding their voices was slightly easier than it might have been otherwise.  I didn't find the epistolary format much more difficult than traditional prose, although I had to be careful not to ramble on too much (which I do when I write letters myself) so that I could keep moving the plot along. It's definitely something I'd like to explore writing again.   Best LGBTQA+   Nominees: 1. And Again (M) by @nott theodore 2. Pro Libertate by @TidalDragon   Winner: And Again (M) by @nott theodore   Questions for Winner: What inspired you to structure the story this way, with the number of times Dom tells people about her sexual preferences? Answer: I think this story partly stemmed from reading a couple of books which have LGBTQA+ main characters, and also from conversations with friends.  When you identify as anything other than straight or cisgender, you don't just get one coming out moment, and I felt like a lot of coming out stories tend to focus on the first time it happens, so I wanted to explore the reality of having to come out time and again, and all the different reactions that there might be to that.   Best Minor Character (HP)   Nominees: 1. Amelia Bones in The Possibility of After (M) by @Unwritten Curse 2. Apollyon Pringle in What lies beneath by @melian 3. Fabian Prewett in The Possibility of After (M) by @Unwritten Curse 4. Fenrir Greyback in Coffee and Curse-Breakers (M) by @Pixileanin 5. The Dumbledores in Prisoner (M) by @CrimsonQuill   Winner: The Dumbledores in Prisoner (M) by CrimsonQuill   Best Non-HP Story   Nominees: 1. Leftovers (M) by 1917farmgirl (CSI) 2. Some Things Are Meant to Be (M) by 1917farmgirl (Merlin) 3. Tragedy (M) by LooneyLizzie(OF)   Winner: TIE: Some Things Are Meant to Be (M) by 1917farmgirl (Merlin) TIE: Tragedy (M) by @LooneyLizzie (OF)   Question for 1917farmgirl: What inspired you to write a Merlin AU piece? What was your favorite single moment or line in this piece? Answer: Writing AU in the Merlin fandom is pretty much a given.  EVERYONE does it. So it wasn't really a huge decision to chose to write this story.  It just kinda...happened. It was interesting to write the characters in a modern instead of medieval setting, however.

I put a lot of my heart into this story, so there are quite a few places in it that I'm proud of and moments I like.  I think my two favorite parts right off the top of my head, are when Merlin admits to Arthur he has nowhere to go. And when Arthur realizes this homeless boy who just lost everything, gave him his ONLY possessions to pay for a night of shelter.
  Best Novel   Nominees: 1. Home (M) by  adorably cute 2. Ignite (M) by Slide   Winner: Ignite (M) by @Slide   Best One-Shot   Nominees: 1. Becoming a Longbottom by  Deeds 2. Letter to the Lost (M) by CrimsonQuill 3. Live and Be Well (M) by  Pen2Paper 4. silence. death. (M) by poppunkpadfoot 5. Thin (M) by ShadowRose 6. Thrill by nott theodore   Winner: silence. death. (M) by poppunkpadfoot   Question for Winner: What was your favorite part about writing Remus Lupin. What was your least favorite? Answer:  Remus comes fairly easily to me at this point, so that was good - I didn't have to think too hard about characterization or anything. I was kind of amazed how well his wartime experiences and his characterization ended up aligning with the story that I wanted to tell. He really was the best choice for the story, and I'm actually really glad that Sirius didn't work out!
I wouldn't say this was my "least favourite" part of writing Remus, but I'd say the biggest challenge was drawing connections between Remus's experiences in the war/his feelings about those experiences and his experiences in the LGBTQ+ community/with HIV/AIDS, while simultaneously staying VERY far away from drawing connections between lycanthropy and HIV/AIDS, because I hate that allegory with a passion. It was less that I was like "oh no, I might accidentally use that allegory" and more that I wanted to make sure nothing could be misconstrued as using that allegory. But yeah, that was a bit of a challenge.   Best Original Character   Nominees: 1. Amie Bell in Amie Bell. Squib, Barista Auror. (M) by @Sleepingbagonthesofa 2. Carson Wood in Home (M) by @adorably cute 3. Cassiel Yaxley in Yaxley (M) by @sleepingbagonthesofa   Winner: TIE: Carson Wood in Home (M) by @adorably cute TIE: Cassiel Yaxley in Yaxley (M) by @sleepingbagonthesofa   Question for adorably cute: What inspired Carson Wood’s characterization? Answer: Ahh, first I am blown away about this PoG and honored to share the win with Deni (sleepingbagonasofa)! Thanks everyone! A lot of Carson’s characterization comes from personal experiences- like, her sass comes easily to me because I’m a lot like that myself! And then some of the characterization just comes from where she is in life. She’s a 17 year old who’s at a point in her life where she doesn’t know what she wants to do and is trying to make the most of things before she has to become a real person with a real job. So between all that, and the way I built her childhood growing up between her two parents, she just came together into this sassy, stubborn, kind of awkward human who likes Quidditch and numbers!   Question for sleepingbagonthesofa: What was the most difficult part about writing your OC, Cassiel Yaxley? Answer: Writing Cassiel, or Cass, was surprisingly easy at first. In a lot of ways she's similar to me- overdramatic, grumpy, stubborn and some good things too (hopefully)- although her personality is exaggerated quite a bit. The most difficult thing about writing her has started to appear as the story has gone on, whenever I want her to do something unpleasant (or just anything she wouldn't want to do) yet plot-driving aaand she wont. The words will not appear. I end up going of in a completely different direction and it makes sticking to the plot almost impossible. Having said that, characters that become that real are one of my favourite things about writing, even when I end up staring at a blank screen for hours. My stubborn little baby has taken on a life of her own!   Also, it was such a shock to be nominated for a POG in the first place and incredible to win alongside Sarah! Thank you so much everyone!

  Best Portrayal of a Gryffindor   Nominees: 1. Bill Weasley in The Fox by @StarFeather 2. James Potter (I) in Live and Be Well (M) by @Pen2Paper 3. Neville Longbottom in Year of the snake (M) by @melian   Winner: Neville Longbottom in Year of the snake (M) by @melian   Question for Winner: What inspired you to write about Neville during this time period? What was your most difficult scene to write? Answer:  I write the stories that I want to read. This is particularly the case with novels – How to tame a Marauder was a direct result of me not being able to find a canon-compliant Marauders novel that showed the characters the way that I saw them, for example. For Year of the Snake, well I just really wanted to know what Neville’s experiences from that year were like, and how he got to the point he did where he just shrugged off evidence of torture as an everyday occurrence. Unlike when I was reading stuff for HTM, though, I didn’t actually look at what else was out there for this story. I just decided to write one myself.

I will say though that it’s been a much harder process. Part of that is because I naturally write romance, and this is most definitely NOT a romantic story. But I suspect that part of it is also that I’m not drawn to the year of Deathly Hallows as much as I am the Marauder era. I want to write Neville’s story because I think he deserves to be written (I won’t say by me because that sounds really egotistical, but hey, I’m better at writing than I am most other things), but it really is a horrible story. I’m writing about children being tortured and kidnapped and forced to do really terrible things to each other in order to survive, and it’s not pleasant. (Most difficult scenes, right there.) So that might have something to do with my struggles here. In any case, this is taking MUCH longer to write than it should, and than I thought it would.   Best Quote   Nominees: 1. "Sometimes I think I'd give up the Egyptian silk for some genuine interest in my life." from Complicated (M) by ShadowRose 2. " 'It's not the power inside the bike we have to worry about,' Sirius said, looking straight at Peter. 'It's the people we give it to.' " fromThrillseekers: Marauders with Machines by Pixileanin 3. "...because death seemed to linger around the The Possibility of After (M) by Unwritten CurseBoneses and she couldn't bear the thought of carving another hole in her family tree." from 4. "Dad and Alicia have three other kids in addition to me, their part-time-turned-full-time child." from Home (M) by adorably cute 5. " 'Remus are you gay?' You were expecting a denial, or confusion. What you weren't expecting is for him to blink slowly and say, 'Only at the full moon.' " from perilune by poppunkpadfoot 6. "The full moon that month was almost a relief. The wolf doesn't care about Oliver - the wolf doesn't care about anybody. For one night, he can stop [expletive] thinking, stop feeling anything besides the physical pain as he tears himself apart.   The next morning, he waits longer than he should to treat his wounds. He lies there on the floor and stares at the blood oozing out of his body, pooling on the floor, and he wonders idly if, after everything, it will be his own blood that kills him." from silence. death. (M) by poppunkpadfoot   Winner:"...because death seemed to linger around the Boneses and she couldn't bear the thought of carving another hole in her family tree." from The Possibility of After (M) by Unwritten Curse   Question for Winner: What impact does this quote have on your character and/or plot in this piece? Answer: This quote ("death seemed to linger around the Boneses and she couldn't bear the thought of carving another hole in her family tree") reflects Amelia's perception of her place in her family now that it has been so ravaged by death. Her parents and eldest brother (along with his wife and children) have all died as a result of the war, and now it's just her brother, Michael; his wife; and herself that remain. She senses acutely, now, her duty to her brother and her duty to survive. In the chapter wherein this quote appears, Amelia has just had a fainting spell out of nowhere, and she won't let herself dwell on it because the possibilities are too scary. So she shrugs it off as a minor annoyance versus letting her thoughts spiral. It's kind of ironic, as well, because her fainting spell is connected with the theme of the story and is quite literally the opposite of what she fears (i.e. adding to the family rather than subtracting from it).   Best Post-War   Nominees: 1. After Destiny (M) by cambangst 2. Amie Bell. Squid, Barista, Auror. (M) by sleepingonthesofa 3. Fix You by TidalDragon   Winner: After Destiny (M) by @CambAngst   Question for Winner: What was the moment you struggled the most with this story? What was your favorite moment? Answer: It's hard to pick a single moment. The biggest struggle throughout the story has been to hit the right balance in portraying characters who have been forced to be mature beyond their years in some respects while not losing sight of the fact that they're only 17 years old, or 16 in Ginny's case. Harry is the prime example. He's had to make choices that led -- unavoidably -- to people being hurt and killed. At the same time, he's baffled when it comes to managing his day-to-day life and especially his relationship with Ginny. There's a temptation to treat these characters as super-human because of what they've survived and accomplished. But the reality is that they're only human and they're only beginning to come to terms with their experiences.   Best Worldbuilding   Nominees: 1. Jigsaw (M) by nott theodore 2. Lucky Strike by TidalDragon 3. Not Fade Away (M) by Slide 4. Project Azkaban (M) by Unwritten Curse   Winner: Project Azkaban (M) by Unwritten Curse   Question for Winner: What inspired you to write Project Azkaban? Did you intend for it to be so dark when you first began writing it or did that happen naturally due to the content? Answer: The inspiration was twofold. I had a nagging question regarding Azkaban prison post-Voldemort, seeing as the guards of Azkaban (the dementors) had joined the Dark Side. They presumably could not be trusted to guard the evildoers of the wizarding world any longer, so I wondered... what's next? Project Azkaban or Azkaban 2.0 was my solution to that problem. Then, in the midst of my dreaming up what this new prison would look like, I had a dream that I was inside the prison and broke free. The prison break entailed a lot of deadly obstacles that felt kind of like a puzzle and I was at the mercy of my comrades to help me survive *cough cough*. As far as the piece being so dark... well, that was intentional. It has a lot to do with the construction of the prison and that's all I will say.    Most Addictive Story   Nominees: 1. Breathe (M) by @poppunkpadfoot 2. Complicated (M) by @ShadowRose 3. Home (M) by @adorably cute   Winner: Complicated (M) by ShadowRose   Question for Winner: What was your motive for purposefully making the characters ‘unlikeable’ at first? Answer: Ok, so when I started writing Complicated, I knew it was going to be a James/OC romance but I wanted it to be more than that too, you know? So in addition to being a romance, it’s designed to show how this one girl - the main character Abby - is shaped by the experiences of her seventh year and how they serve to turn her into a more mature and generally kinder person. So she starts off as this stuck-up Queen Bee character because there’s just so much room for character growth there. I think I’d also just finished binge-watching Gossip Girl when I started writing this story, so that may have also been a contributing factor. And as for James, he himself isn’t exactly unlikable; he’s only made unlikable through the narrator’s voice. The story is told from Abby’s first-person POV, and she doesnt like him, so the reader only hears about his worst traits at the start of the story because they’re the only things Abby notices.
  Most Original Story   Nominees: 1. Coffee and Curse-Breakers (M) by Pixileanin 2. Golden Girl (M) by Crimson Quill 3. Sentience by  TreacleTart 4. That Post is a Keeper by Pixileanin 5. The Northern Tales (M) by nott theodore   Winner: TIE: Coffee and Curse-Breakers (M) by Pixileanin TIE: The Northern Tales (M) by nott theodore   Question for nott theodore: What did your draw inspiration from to weave these awesome, imaginative tales? Answer: For the two tales I've written so far, I wanted to create a magical backstory/legend to places that are pretty well-known and already have associations with magic.  I've written stories like that before, picking out an historical event and shaping it into the Harry Potter world, but this was fun because I used the magical world - creatures and legends - included in the books to write the stories, more than anything.  There are a couple more I'd like to write based on local legends from the North of England, but I think the places themselves were probably the biggest inspiration.   Most Versatile Author   Winner: @melian   Question for Winner: Is writing different types of pieces a challenge for you or does it come naturally? What’s the most difficult story you’ve written? Answer: Oh, it’s a challenge. But a one-shot doesn’t have to be very long and really, it doesn’t even really have to have a story. Drabbles even less so. So long as you convey a mood and show a scene, then that’s all that really matters. You’re showing a snapshot of something that people can extrapolate further themselves if they want to, but that’s their job, not mine. The thing is, I like to challenge myself. I’ve managed to make Ron/Pansy and Draco/Luna both fit canon (both written for challenges) and I even managed a Dramione, which for someone who pretty much ONLY writes canon was definitely a stretch. Again, not sure it’s any good, but I wrote it. 

Hardest story I’ve written? I’ve already touched on Year of the Snake being a struggle for me, but I will also say that I fought with a number of others. People in Gryffindor will tell you I can write very quickly when I need to (if it’s a one-shot, of course!!! Like I said before, I often don’t really need to tell a proper story then) but that doesn’t mean what comes out is any good. Breathe was difficult, probably because it was from the point of view of a Mandrake and I have no idea what their thought processes might be, or if they even have them. Twelve Years I struggled with, because while I had the idea in my head it just wasn’t coming out on the page for me. Though, the fact I was writing it on a plane probably didn’t help. The Arthur Weasley story in The Battle of Hogwarts (Paladin) was also one that I wrestled with for quite a while before it started to come together.   Best Artist   Winner: @Poppunkpadfoot   Question for Winner: Do you have any advice for aspiring  graphic artists? Answer: Yes! Definitely do seek out and accept critique - it will be really helpful for improving your art! However, I have sometimes noticed there's a tendency to actually be over-critical of new artists, and that it can become really discouraging really fast. So I would say to be careful not to define yourself or your art by the critique you receive. Practice looking at each piece you make, even when it has flaws that you can see, and saying "here is what I like about this piece, here's what I'm proud of about this piece, and here's what I learned or applied from recent learning while making this piece". Also, make friends with other newbie artists and be supportive of each other! IMO, that's about as important as seeking out critique.   Best Moment   Winner: The Record-Setting CTF Win vs. Ravenclaw   Question: Do you have anything to say about Gryffindor beating Ravenclaw in a record-setting CTF round? Answers: poppunkpadfoot: It was such a great moment! We were all extremely nervous to face Ravenclaw because they'd basically been sweeping everyone they went up against; if I recall correctly, we were basically unanimous in being most worried about that match. I think we were kind of expecting to get our butts kicked, ahaha. When we were told we'd found the flag, we really could not believe it. We were all so excited and completely freaking out. It was such an awesome team spirit moment! It was definitely a highlight of the House Cup and it really bolstered our team's confidence for the rest of CTF.
I also think it's pretty much hilarious that this won Best Moment, because it was up against Gryffindor literally winning the whole House Cup. Like, you'd think that would've been a shoe-in, but no, the CTF win won by a landslide. Which I think is SO Gryffindor 🦁
(Also... we love you, Claws! ❤️)   StarFeather: Lions are the earnest participants at House Cup, especially :Gryffindor: for CTF, the event was invented by our king lion, Kevin. Who could ignore it? We had to win for Kevin and our house, Gryffindor. So I tried doing what I could at that moment.   nott theodore: Only that I still don't think I've recovered properly from that month of CTF!  Every house seemed to really have it together when we were playing them, with their formidable spreadsheets and well-planned attack, and we... were very Gryffindor, and didn't.  It was only in the final round against Ravenclaw (which we'd all been dreading) that we managed any semblance of a plan, and to actually get a win that quickly, after they'd won our first game with some incredible magic and skill (I think they got our flag in a 100+ chapter story after 3 chapters, maybe?), was a pretty amazing feeling.   melian: That was amazing, wasn’t it? I admit we did have a plan of attack, and the stars aligned in our favour in that we found the Flag author almost immediately, thanks in no small part to Ysh and her magnificent spreadsheet. But I won’t say too much in case it gives our strategy away. I felt kind of bad for Ravenclaw because they were doing SUCH a good job with their other Flag battles, but it was also incredibly satisfying when things worked out like they did.     Huge congratulations to all Lions who were nominated and who won! Next week we will be taking a look at the Hufflepuff House awards.  Header by Eva ❤️

In the Spotlight | July 21, 2018

Hey, all! It's that time of the month again where we feature winners from monthly events like sitewide Story of the Month, the Order of Merlin, and Head Students! Stay tuned for a few interviews with these winners as well as a couple review columns! This is an opportunity to get to know the authors, stories, and staff of HPFT a little bit better than before.   The one-and-only @TidalDragon was awarded the Order of Merlin for July, which was very well-deserved. You may know Kevin best as being the site's Gamekeeper, who is extremely helpful and friendly. We hope you enjoy this interview!  TidalDragon  

Next, we have prepared an interview with our two Head Students for July, @danicasyer and @Sleepingbagonthesofa. These two have been positively rocking the site lately, so we're all very excited to have them featured.  danicasyer Sleepingbagonthesofa
Dolor Lake [M]
by @Rumpelstiltskin R E V I E W   C O L U M N I read Dolor Lake a little while ago for a review swap, and even though it's been almost a month since I reviewed it, the images have remained vivid and at the forefront of my mind. I kept thinking about this piece and the messages that Rumpels is trying to convey through it. The beauty of this piece is that she uses a metaphor so powerful and strong that it can convey manic depression flawlessly, even to people who may not have experienced it before. This depiction of the endless cycle between the happiness and the depression is so personal and written so beautifully. The monster in the lake may not mean something to us the way it means to Rumpels (or perhaps it does, which is why these pieces about mental illnesses are so important) but the importance of this piece, to me, is that it's something that's understandable to everyone. The imagery, tone, diction, figurative language, and second person POV in this piece all come together to form a masterpiece of original fiction. And in that way, Rumpels manages to show the nuances of manic depression far more effectively than if someone had just tried to describe it outright. A story that can do that -- teach something new while conveying a deeply personal experience -- is one worthy of the highest appreciation. I can't recommend this enough. Please read it. ❤️ I N T E R V I E W   W I T H   T H E   A U T H O R Lying Josephine [M]
by @WriteYourHeartOut R E V I E W   C O L U M N Lying Josephine is such a phenomenally plotted story, filled with fully-developed characters with their own very distinct personalities and ways of speaking, time jumps that slowly start piecing the story together bit by bit, and emotions ranging from elation to grief. Tanya conducts the story masterfully, and the fact that there aren't more chapters makes me feel incredibly unfulfilled. Her Fred and George are some of the best I've ever seen, and my favorite thing is how easily she gives them both extroverted, jokester personalities while still keeping them separate from each other. The way she ties her story into the war while keeping the setting centered largely around Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes and the Burrow is also so, so good. But we can't leave without talking about Tanya's OC, Josephine. Now, Josephine is quiet, shy, and reserved, yet she's best friends with Fred Weasley as she works in his shop. We'll find ourselves rooting for her as she tries to help George, her crush, especially in the aftermath of the war. She's fascinating because she's not morally perfect, but we'll love her anyway. Read this story and fall in love with all the characters, because there is no way you'll come out of it any other way. 💛 I N T E R V I E W   W I T H   T H E   A U T H O R --- And that's it for today's edition of In the Spotlight! As always, leave a comment let us know what you think. We sincerely hope you enjoyed reading! 💛 - The Prefects review column by just.a.willow.tree
interviews compiled by dreamgazer220, facingthenorthwind, Rumpelstiltskin
graphics by just.a.willow.tree

Common Room Awards: Ravenclaw Edition | July 14th, 2018

Common Room Awards: Ravenclaw Edition
  As an exciting new edition to the Prefect Blog, we've decided to host a mini-series on the Common Room Awards for each House! This week, we're taking a look at the Ravenclaw House Awards [or the Nargles]! In addition to being featured, each winner in each category had an opportunity to answer one question pertaining to their story. [Winners for other Houses, if you haven't received your questions yet, you will soon!] "Wittiest Story" Nominees:
A Candle (M) - @abhorsen.
When Dahlias Bloom (M) - @dirigibleplums

When Dahlias Bloom (M) - @dirigibleplums

A Candle (M) - @abhorsen. Question: Your Drastoria is so beautifully crafted, a perfectly balanced relationship (seriously, it’s impossible not to ship your version of them!) Why were you drawn to them as a ship? Answer: Thank you! I think a big part of it is that I like a redemption arc, especially when it comes to kids/teenagers. I hated Draco in the books, but I also saw a lot of potential in HBP and DH for someone who was capable of growing and changing into a better person, and that was something I really leaned into for my Scorose Curiosity Is Not a Sin (which was my first HP fanfic, back in late 2010/early 2011). I didn't want Draco 2.0 or Hermione 2.0, and part of that was not having Scorpius grow up in the same environment as Draco did. I also always had a vague thought that the Greengrasses were not pureblood supremacists - the Greengrass cousins in CINAS weren't, and I'd intended for Johanna Greengrass (Astoria's niece by her OC brother) to be a Slytherin Auror and one of Teddy's best friends. When I started writing about Astoria, it just kind of snowballed. "Best Ravenclaw Character" Nominees:
Alba Williamson in Stand Tall by @Chelts-rhj
Myrtle Warren in The First by @Veritaserum27 Runner-Up:
Alba Williamson in Stand Tall by @Chelts-rhj Winner:
Myrtle Warren in The First by @Veritaserum27 Question: What was the most challenging part of writing Myrtle? What drew you to her in the first place? Answer: Wow.  First of I was totally blown away that I even won a Nargle!  I'm just beaming with excitement over this. Myrtle was a little bit tricky because she's just so damn whiny.  She doesn't really do anything to help herself win friends and she kind of reminded me of someone who was completely misunderstood, so I started with that.  I wrote this piece as part of a Ravenclaw house collab waaaay back on HPFF, but it never got posted. We each took a different Claw character and a different era and wrote a one-shot.  I was excited because I hadn't written this era before. I did a little research about what it would've been like for a young girl in muggle London during WWII and went from there. "Most Original Story" Nominees:
Eidolon (M) by @Aphoride Stand Tall by @Chelts-rhj Runner-Up:
Eidolon (M) by @Aphoride Winner:
Stand Tall by @Chelts-rhj Question: Stand Tall is about a young witch in her final year at Hogwarts living with cerebral palsy and dealing with the Triwizard tournament and teenage friendship problems. What made you want to write such an inspiring story like this? Answer: It’s a complicated question that I can ALMOST answer completely. 😊 I have two members of my family with two vastly different cases of CP. For my cousin it put her in a position of being constantly underestimated and overlooked. She has since started living her own life. When I started writing Stand Tall she had moved away to college and really grown into herself. That’s where the CP came in. I have always been disappointed in the way people get nervous around anyone who falls out of the social norm. I wanted a hero for Hogwarts, with friends and nemeses, without making her Susie Q. She needed an abrupt challenge to unexpectedly wow herself as well as everyone else, and not in a ‘for someone with CP’ way. Add in that the Tournament pits her head to head against able bodied boys? Bring it on! (And I needed practice with active voice in action sequences so it couldn’t just be romance.) There is one more theme/point I wanted to get across but it’s a spoiler so ask me again after the next 13-15 chapters to find out. 😜 "Best Original Fiction" Nominees:
Empty (M) by @abhorsen.
Fall in Love with a Writer by @manno-malfoy
Passing Time by @forever_dreaming Runner-Up:
Passing Time by @forever_dreaming Winner:
Fall in Love with a Writer by @manno-malfoy "Best One-Shot" Nominees:
Little Red (M) by @sunshine_locks
Moment of Clarity by @AltraX Runner-Up:
Moment of Clarity by @AltraX Winner:
Little Red (M) by @sunshine_locks Question: Given we know roughly the same amount about all the next gen kids in canon (that is, nothing), what made you pick Rose as the killer? Why Lucy as the victim? Answer: The short version: I'm a spiteful and vindictive person. The long version: at the time I wrote this, I was into ScoRose. Like, a lot. And naturally I found every ScoRose story there was in the HPFF archives, but I was disappointed by the lack of variation in Rose's personality. She was almost always a carbon copy of Hermione, except with red hair. And I... was not impressed. There were so many amazing ways to spin her, and people wanted her to be Hermione, and not a shred of Ron was represented in her. So, I frustrated with two things: (1) her go to characterization being Hermione and (2) how almost everyone seemed to forget Ron is her parent as well. So, I was like, you know what? I'm going to make Rose the exact opposite of how people wanted her to be, but I was mindful of making her a unique character who could definitely be Hermione and Ron's daughter. I also thought it would also be nice to add in that how the Wizarding World viewed her paralleled how people seemed to love writing her. This is the true and honest answer, but if anybody likes writing Rose this way, I mean no absolutely no harm to you, and keep writing her like that if you so wish! [On Lucy as victim]: Oh, gosh, there was so much thought put into this story, and I'm kind of wondering why I don't put this much thought into all my other stories. I do have a very specific answer for this. So, basically, I tried to follow Rose's line of thought for her first victim. First of all, Rose is an arrogant person, and you can really see that by the end of the story, how she seems to be proud of the lives she's taken. I thought that she'd want her first victim to be be kind of famous? Like Rose thought Lucy's death would symbolic of the begin of her reign over the Wizarding World, or something of the sort. Lucy's status as a Weasley (and the fact that she was dead) would effectively tell the Wizarding World that something insidious was among their midst. But compared to the other Weasleys (like the Potters, or something), Lucy's not as famous, and that was deliberate in the story, as Rose wanted to start small, not be too ambitious. So, yup. Please don't think I'm a serial killer, I promise you that I'm not! "Best New Author" Nominees:
@Chelts-rhj (AP)
@facingthenorthwind (AP) Runner-Up:
@Chelts-rhj Winner:
@facingthenorthwind Question: Where do you get your ideas for all your insanely creative stories? Answer: 99% of the time they start out as conversations with my friends! All my best ideas come from other people. Either that or sometimes it’s just following JKR’s worldbuilding to their logical conclusions: if the description of being under the Imperius curse in GoF sounds like being under the influence, why wouldn’t people use it like that? If Jewish wizards exist, how have they married that with Jewish law? How does home security work when you’re connected to the Floo network? "Best LGBTQA+" Nominees:
And the World Went On by @manno-malfoy
ginevra, darling by @sapphicsunrise
two certainties (M) by @facingthenorthwind Runner-Up:
two certainties (M) by @facingthenorthwind Winner:
ginevra, darling by @sapphicsunrise
  "Best Description" Nominees:
Imperium (M) by @Aphoride
Tom (M) by @Theia
two certainties (M) by @facingthenorthwind
War Stories (M) by @forever_dreaming Runner-Up:
War Stories (M) by @forever_dreaming Winners (tie):
Imperium (M) by @Aphoride
Tom (M) by @Theia
two certainties (M) by @facingthenorthwind Question: How do you capture such beauty in your descriptions with such dark, angsty plot material? Answer from @facingthenorthwind: I actually think description is one of my weaknesses, so I have no idea what I’m doing here, haha! But I think it helps to have dark, angsty plot material because I feel obligated to distract from it, in a way? To give the audience some kind of reprieve by delving far too deep into the plot of the radio soap opera or getting too attached to exactly what Sirius would think of when he was conjuring a dining room chair. I guess it’s the only way I can inject some kind of whimsy into something so dark. And despite writing quite a lot of angst, I am extremely fond of whimsy. Answer from @Theia: I honestly don't know. I love writing about individual characters and getting into their mind space, and because of my own struggles with mental illness & toxic relationships, it becomes easier to write angst. I just put myself in the character's shoes and try to bring in the various sights, sounds, thoughts, and feelings associated with it. I think one of the biggest realisations I've had when it comes to angsty descriptions is that your sentences don't need to be complete all the time - rather, they *shouldn't* - because when someone's in a dark situation of any kind, their thoughts tend to be disconnected, erratic, and layered with emotions. I don't think about my descriptions being *beautiful* but try to bring all the individual elements together to look at a single instance/ plot point in depth, and write about it in a realistic manner. If they turn out to be beautiful, then that's a bonus, haha! Thank you so much for the Nargle, and to everyone who voted for my fic, I still can't believe it! Congratulations to all the other winners as well! ❤️ Answer from @Aphoride: Ahhh thank you! Oh god, that's a surprisingly hard question! I think a lot of it is that I have a really visual mind, so it's easy for me to picture things, from landscapes to the detail on clothes, and then it's just a question of trying to translate that onto the page (and it's actually impossible for me to say things simply, I always have to add more and more and embellish ). So a lot of it comes fairly naturally for me? But I think dark, angsty stuff works for description, because dark/shadowed stuff plays off the mood of the story, and then you can have that kind of jarring feel with describing something really bright and light-coloured, in comparison to the dark material, yk? It also helps with Tom is a creepy little thing, which works well I don't think I've ever written as much physical description (like, of muscles and bones, etc.) as I have done in this fic!
  "Most Versatile Author" Nominees:
@abhorsen. (abhorsen | Beeezie)
@clevernotbrilliant (AP)
@FireOpal (AP) Runner-Up:
@abhorsen. (abhorsen | Beeezie) Winner:
@dirigibleplums (AP) Question: Is there anything you haven't tried yet but want to? Anything that you would never write? Answer: There are actually lots of things I haven't tried yet! I'm big on daydreaming so a lot of my ideas are big and intricate... I just never quite manage to get them out of my head and onto paper - or, Word, to be more accurate. I'd love to write something rooted in fantasy with a lot of fairytale elements, or a high fantasy novel. I also have a vague plunny of this post-apocalyptic gangster novel that I will probably never have the skills to write As for things I wouldn't write... Well, I can never imagine myself writing horror. It's not something I read or watch so I likely won't write it either? There are some tropes that I'm not too fond of either, but horror is probably the main thing "Best Reviewer" Nominees:
@Ineke (reviews)
@PaulaTheProkaryote ( reviews ) Runner-Up:
@Ineke and @manno-malfoy (tie) Winner:
@PaulaTheProkaryote Question: Do you have a system for how you write your reviews or do you just make it up on the fly? Answer: I tend to write my reviews as I read the chapter so I don't forget any of the good tidbits! I try to include my favorite lines, something about characterization, and at least a few details that I really loved! I edit in my final thoughts at the very end when I finish the chapter to make the reviews a little more cohesive!   Congratulations to all of the phenomenal Ravenclaws who were nominated, the runners-up, and the winners! Well done, everyone! In two weeks on July 28th, the Gryffindor House Awards will be featured.   




Common Room Awards: Slytherin Edition | July 8th, 2018

Common Room Awards: Slytherin Edition
  As an exciting new edition to the Prefect Blog, we've decided to host a mini-series on the Common Room Awards for each House! This week, we're taking a look at the Slytherin House Awards [ or the 'My Father Will Hear About These Awards' / MFWHATAs]! In addition to being featured, each winner in each category had an opportunity to answer one question pertaining to their story. [Winners in other Houses: if you haven't received your questions yet, you will soon!]     “Most Hypnotizing Tale” [Most Addicting Story]   Nominees: Saving Severus Snape [M] by @MegGonagall 
Like a House on Fire by @800 words of heaven
Not My Own by M C Crocker / @scooterbug8515
After Life [M] by @MegGonagall

After Life [M] by @MegGonagall

Saving Severus Snape [M] by @MegGonagall   “Best Snake of a Different Scale” [Best Alternate Universe]   Nominees: Scars from Tomorrow by @Nix
Child of the Hunt: the Journey Begins [M] by @Alexis Black
Like a Multiverse on Fire [M] by @800 words of heaven

Scars from Tomorrow by @Nix

Child of the Hunt: the Journey Begins [M] by @Alexis Black
  “Most Careful Handling of a Snake” [Best Depiction of a Canon Slytherin Character]   Nominees:
Draco Malfoy in Love, Not War [M] by @RoxiMalfoy
Bellatrix Lestrange in The Moonlight War [M] by @BoredOneNight

Bellatrix Lestrange in The Moonlight War [M] by @BoredOneNight
Draco Malfoy in Love, Not War [M] by @RoxiMalfoy
Question for Winner: From the moment Love, Not War starts to where it’s at now, Draco has experienced a lot of character growth. What was the most difficult challenge you faced while showcasing his personal growth? Answer: To be honest, I am probably facing my most difficult challenge in writing one of Draco’s personal growth/development scenes right NOW, lol. 😛 Each moment of the story, every thought that Draco has had, every conversation he’s held with others; it has all been about how he hates his father for the decisions that he’s made, and how he wants nothing more to do with Lucius Malfoy. But now the story is gearing up for this pivotal moment of confrontation between father and son, and Draco is going to have to make a some pretty heavy decisions regarding his relationship with his father. He has been told that this is going to be the last time he will ever see/speak to his father again. Lucius has been sentenced to death at this point, and the Minister has offered Draco one hour to say goodbye. (But that’s all the details I’m going to give here, lol!! If you want to know more, you’ll just have to read the story!!)  😉 But I will say that the conversation that ensues between the two Malfoys in Chapter 24 of LNW is... yeah, it gets pretty intense, to say the least. Lucius makes several confessions to his son, and Draco in turn ends up venting his frustrations to his father about everything that he’s been holding onto for most of his childhood. And by the end of it, I can honestly say that I am very proud of Draco Malfoy, and the decisions that he makes after being faced with everything that's thrown his way during this particular conversation.

I mean, it was one thing for him to declare his forgiveness to the angry mob of people at the Ministry in Chapter 19. But now he will actually be required to put those words into action when he sees Lucius face-to-face for the first time since everything that's happened to him at the beginning of the story. And honestly, writing that particular scene was always one of the MOST challenging parts for me, because it's very personal. It was difficult back in 2009 when the first draft of this section of the story (which, at that time was only Chapter 13) was written. And even now while I am rewriting this section for my JulNo project, (and it is now Chapter 24 of the story, due to all of the new content and spacing out I've done during the rewrite/edit process) I’ve still had a very emotional time with writing it. But I'm making my way through it. Albeit a little slowly, lol! 😅

I’m not sure how much of a widely-known fact this is, but when I started writing Love, Not War back in the summer of 2008, I was dealing with a LOT of personal issues surrounding my own paternal father. Coming from a single parent home, he and I have never really had much of a relationship. 😕 But I had reached a point in my life where I had decided that I wanted to let go of all the anger and resentment that I had been holding onto from my childhood. Being in my early twenties at the time though, I wasn’t really sure what true forgiveness of that nature looked like, and I had quite a bit of feelings and emotions surrounding my broken/damaged relationship with my own dad. So, naturally, I channeled a lot of that into this fanfiction. And I feel as though Draco and I both learned to forgive our fathers together, in a way. It was all quite therapeutic, writing through it for the very first time. ✍️

Fast-Forward 10 years (dear lord, have I really been working on this thing for an ENTIRE Decade now?!? 😱 )  and now I’m rewriting the entire fic all over again. And while I have since forgiven my father, and he and I are, in fact, on speaking terms now (he’s actually moving into the neighborhood over from us from us next month, so he’ll only be about a 20-30 minute drive away now, as opposed to an hour and a half away) but that still doesn’t make reliving this section of the story all over again any easier. The emotion Draco experiences is still very real, and is still very much a reminder of everything that I, personally, was going through at that time in my life. His thoughts of betrayal and accusations of neglect were very much my own, so I know how hard it was for him to overcome that situation and then grow from it. But thankfully, we overcame our adversities, and I feel as though we have both come out stronger for it in the end.  💚🐍
  “Best ‘Love Bites’” [Best Romance]   Nominees:
Love in Three Acts [M] by @toomanycurls
Problems by @800 words of heaven
Should Old Acquaintance Be Forgot by Dark Whisper
Lightning Love [M] by @toomanycurls

Love in Three Acts [M] by @toomanycurls AND Problems by @800 words of heaven

Lightning Love [M] by @toomanycurls
Question for Winner: What was it like working with such a large character cast in Lightning Love? How do you keep track of all the characters? Answer: Writing a large cast is something I generally enjoy doing. I like giving a voice to a lot of people instead of just a few. I've been working up to large casts for a while (it started with scenes that had a lot of people or parts of entire stories that had a lot of people, and now an entire story with a lot of people). In each scene, I usually know what I want to happen and who needs to be there. I also have any key development that needs to happen mapped out so I'll always include people who need to go through some experience. Sometimes I have to remind myself that I haven't revisited someone's story arc in a few chapters and I make room for them in the narrative. I almost never include a character incidentally. For instance, in True Romance, the entire reason I showcase Albus' relationship with Molly/Arthur is so that Arthur's death will have a bigger impact on the characters (and readers ). I had fun mapping out the character arc for each main/secondary/tertiary character in Lightning Love. All of the main/secondary characters have rather intertwined story arcs so it's easy to keep them at pace with each other. I know that if I want to advance Joao's story arc, I need to move him along with Hugo. I'm not sure if I've answered the question or just talked a lot without saying much. Oh! One thing that gets a little stressful is making sure the large cast of people don't sound unrealistic or repetitive. I try to make sure that everyone speaks in a scene without making them speak in the same order like they're taking deliberate turns.

In terms of keeping track... they're all very different people to me so it's easy to keep their voice distinct. Joao and Puja are both very playful but Puja is so much more reserved than Joao so her playfulness comes out in different ways. I have an outline for the rest of Lightning Love that reminds me what I need to include hints for and make happen at certain times. There are a few really big shocks coming up (one I forgot about until I revisited my story outline a few months ago). In particular scenes it's sometimes a scramble to make sure I haven't silenced someone or written that they're around but never describe what they're doing or give them a line in the dialogue. There are times I only catch a drifting character when I reread a scene.
  “Most Deadly Fangs” [Best Dark/Horror]   Nominees:
Intemptesta Nox [M] by @Alexis Black
Dolor Lake [M] by @Rumpelstiltskin
kisses-blood-valentine [M] by @toomanycurls
Misconstrued [M] by @Diogenissa

Intemptesta Nox[M] by @Alexis Black

Dolor Lake[M] by @Rumpelstiltskin Question for Winner: What inspired Dolor Lake? Answer: Dolor Lake is a cathartic piece. Experiencing the ups of mania and the downs of depression can be a crazy experience but what I really wanted to touch on were the lowest points of depressive episodes. I wanted to peel back the layers and explore what my feelings were and where they were coming from -- and what better way to do that than through analogy? When we can reveal our monsters for what they truly are, we can face them head-on and we'll know exacltly what they're capable of. 
  “Best ‘Didn’t See That One Coming’” [Best Plot Twist]   Nominees:
Not My Own by M C Crocker/ @scooterbug8515
That’s All [M] by @beyond the rain
People Watching by @BlackPixie

Winner: TIE! Not by Own by M C Crocker/ @scooterbug8515 AND That’s All [M] by @beyond the rain   Question for scooterbug8515: What inspired you to write a body-swapping piece and what was the most difficult about writing it? Answer: The original inspiration for Not My Own was an ages-old challenge back in my early days of writing fan fiction.  The challenge was not a judged thing thing more of a writing prompt issued as a challenge. "What if Remus Lupin was actually James Potter?"  

My brain started to buzz with ideas of what that meant emotionally for the characters, and from there I knew I had to write it and I opted to do a body swap because honestly Polyjuice Potion is weird and complex for something so long term and meta-morph abilities had not come to light at the time (I was writing pre-OotP then).

The first version of the story exists on the internet by a different name and lacked a lot of detail Not My Own has, also the old story never got much further than the train ride.

As for the most difficult bit I can't decide if it is keeping James in line because he wants to break the book canon from time to time or if it is covering events not seen in the book some are easy to slip in others not so much it is the cause of the current delay in the next chapter. A couple of months pass in the books and not much happens I don't know how I want to cover or fill that and it is a struggle.   Question for beyond the rain: When planning Clara’s character, was she always as you’ve established her in the fic or did she change at all between the planning stage and the writing stage? Answer: Clara was always going to be a pacifist and her reasons behind that were always going to be selfish (Those reasons mainly centering around her not wanting to see the ones she loves get hurt, it has nothing to do with the fact that war itself is terrible.) From day one she's been a slytherin...but I could never decide on her blood status; eventually I settled on muggleborn. She's always been a medi-witch/nurse too.

I think what's changed between planning and writing is that I've discovered her weaknesses and what makes her vulnerable? Before I started writing she seemed invincible, she was some sort of omniscient being just tutting and judging the entire HP world. Now I've discovered her flaws. She doesn't like to talk about her problems, she's extremely self-conscious, and it's never been about being 'too good' for the wizarding world, but rather that she was never good enough.
  “Best ‘Laugh Out Loud’ Moment” [Funniest Scene]   Nominees:
@Nix's Bring a Muggle to School Day @BlackPixie and WindingArrow’s In a Flash @800 words of heaven ’s Chai, Dancing, and a Friend in the Wee Hours of the Morning:   Runner-Up:
In a Flash (Chapter Two) by @BlackPixie and Winding Arrow   Winner:
Bring a Muggle to School Day by @Nix
Question for Winner: Writing humor can be tricky! What was the most difficult part of planning out/writing Bring a Muggle to School Day (a moment, particular character, etc.)? Answer: Oh, gosh. Humor is super tricky, which might be why that's the only humor fic I've ever written! And it was so long ago that I don't remember a lot of the details of planning. I think the most difficult part was keeping it funny, which was why I decided to make it a parody because I didn't want to get wrapped up in the details. If I had written it strictly canon, I don't think the story would have ever even happened considering Fred and George are the sons of Arthur Weasley, who works for the Ministry, and they know all the rules regarding the Statute of Secrecy, and they would know their father would be punished more than a random person would because of this.

I loved writing Fred and George, and I loved creating Melina and making her the instigator in this situation, and the muggles were super fun to write. But yeah, the main part was not getting too wrapped up in my head over the details and just being in a good humored sort of mood. I was probably laughing at myself all the way through writing it as I went along, because I genuinely thought it was funny, and it still makes me laugh today, even though I didn't know at the time if anyone else would think the same or that it would win any awards.     Fantastic job to all of the Snakes who were nominated, the runner-ups, and the winners! Well done, everyone! Next week, Ravenclaw's House Awards will be featured.   ❤️Header by Eva❤️

In the Spotlight — June 21, 2018

Hellooo, everyone!  Pride Month is still going on (and we've dressed the header up for the occassion, as you can probably tell, to make up for the lack of rainbows last post ), which was why we decided to feature the iconic Simon Spier from Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda and/or Love, Simon! Anyway, without further ado, we'd like to get straight into the interviews with your fellow featured HPFTers; hopefully their interviews will make you smile a little today.   This month, the all-amazing toomanycurls was awarded the Order of Merlin. She's just such an amazing admin and does so much for this site. We hope you enjoy reading her interview! toomanycurls   And now here are the interviews with this month's two Head Students, ShadowRose and starbuck! Both of them have been amazing the past month, and so the recognition is so well-deserved.  ShadowRose starbuck   an absence of sound
by just.a.willow.tree R E V I E W   C O L U M N Reading an absence of sound is, honestly, an honor.  The mechanics of the poem itself make it an honor to read; it showcases Eva's creativity and ingenuinity, especially with the idea to manipulate the words, slowly removing letters to depict the gradual loss of the ability to speak (in Eva's case) Mandarin. But the greater reason why I'm so honored to read an absence of sound is because of how deeply emotional and vulnerable it is. At the surface, it seems to discuss a rather specific sort of feeling: the feeling of loss associated with the gradual loss of ability to speak one's native language. This feeling may not be accessible to everyone in the HPFT community, but if you look deeper, you'll find that the poem, in truth, discusses a sort of loss that everyone can relate to. It is a raw depiction of the loss of one's connection to their ancestry, their homeland, their family, etc.—presented through the lens of the loss of the ability to speak the native language. Considering this deeper layer, now the dropping of the letters isn't simply a reflection of the inability to speak the language, but also a disconnect from one's personal history and the gradual fading away of our memories of our homeland; Eva masterfully depicts the resulting frustration with a connection that is simultaneously "there right-there" and just "translucent wisps".  Part of what amazes me about this poem is that this feeling in itself is so hard to describe; I personally have always struggled to put into words the unique grief I associate with the loss of my connection to India and have thus been silent about it. Eva describes perfectly this feeling that I've been trying to describe for years now. Also, it takes a really special sort of bravery to share such a raw and true piece, and that in itself deserves a commendation.   Also a final note: this poem is a reflection of Eva's versatility. She is able to write poems and short stories (and now multi-chaps) with such effortless grace. Honestly, I'm just amazed. If you haven't read it yet, go read it now!! It is so deserving to be SoTM. I N T E R V I E W   W I T H   T H E   A U T H OR --- That wraps up this edition of In the Spotlight, guys!  We hope you enjoyed reading these interviews and little extra pieces; they're always so much fun to compile! As always, thank you for reading, and we hope you enjoyed this! - The Prefects review column by forever_dreaming
interviews compiled by just.a.willow.tree, Rumpelstiltskin
questions by forever_dreaming, just.a.willow.tree, and Rumpelstiltskin
graphics by just.a.willow.tree

Queer and Proud - June 7, 2018

Everyone, it's Pride Month!   This month, the prefects wanted to celebrate as many stories (written by both published authors and writers from our very own archives!) featuring queer characters as possible. These stories should really be featured all year, but we figured Pride Month was a good time to list our favorites. We also wanted to try something slightly different this month, where we asked queer members of HPFT to write their own personal stories, and we want to thank you guys so, so much for submitting them.  If you still want to write a piece for our blog post, just PM @just.a.willow.tree and we can always edit it into the post! Also, quick shoutout to HPFT, because today's HPFT's birthday!  This community has been amazing, and a huge thank you to all the staffers who make it happen. <3 Without further ado, here are our recs (featuring commentary from the prefect that rec'd them)! All stories are listed alphabetically by title.   There are so many amazing, amazing books out there about queer characters, and since we're a writing community, we thought we'd share these first.  This barely scratches the surface of LGBTQA+ stories, but it's definitely a good starting point. And these books are all amazing and meaningful, we can't recommend them enough! (All book links are to Goodreads, so the M rating isn't necessarily for the book but for the comments within the Goodreads sections.)
A Boy Worth Knowing (M) by Jennifer Cosgrove
(rec'd by Claire) This is the absolute cutest progression of a relationship I have ever read. I love that Nate’s attraction to James is never played as the reason he’s isolated himself and their relationship is built on a genuine friendship that would make anyone happy.
The Abyss Surrounds Us (M) by Emily Skrutskie
(rec'd by Claire) Sea monsters and lesbian pirates. Do I need to say much more?? (Though if I’m being honest, the queer storyline is extremely secondary to the sea monster and pirates storyline but both are still amazing).
Autoboyography (M) by Christina Lauren
(rec'd by Claire) Have you ever changed the name of a character halfway through a book and just thought “I’ll just do a find and replace later, it’ll be fine”? Reading this book might make you think twice about that And not only that, but Lauren weaves together so many different issues seamless and will have you rooting for ___ from the very beginning.
  History is All You Left Me (M) by Adam Silvera
(rec'd by Claire) Not only is this book an emotional rollercoaster, it is also a masterclass in narrative structure. The story is told non-linearly through two different time periods and will have you begging for more from the first page.
  If I Was Your Girl (M) by Meredith Russo
(rec'd by Claire) Listen, this book grabs you right in the heart and refuses to let go. I read this almost six months ago and it still hits me just as hard as it did then. All of the characters are so raw and real and I promise that you will fall in love with all of them...well, almost all (Just a heads up that this book does deal with some very serious topics and themes so be aware if you do choose to read it.)
Leah on the Offbeat (M) by Becky Albertalli
(rec'd by Claire) I say this with the utmost love and respect--this is the fanfiction sequel of your dreams. Leah is just as amazingly perfect as she is in Simon and where else can you get a mainstream book with a fat bi protagonist??? Also, no spoilers but...road trip AU of my dreams.
Let's Talk About Love (M) by Claire Kann
(rec'd by Claire) I can honestly say that I have never read a book with an ace protagonist, much less a black bi ace protagonist. While I’m not necessarily recommending this for the writing, as someone on the ace spectrum it is a breath of fresh air to read a book and be able to say “yes, I know what that feels like.”
More Happy Than Not (M) by Adam Silvera
(rec'd by Claire) Do you like sci-fi? Do you like plot twists? Do you like crying non-stop for days because Adam Silvera ripped your heart out yet again? Then this is the book for you! I can’t recommend this highly enough. Adam is a genius when it comes to building up tension and foreshadowing and you will be gasping out loud when you come to the big reveal!
Openly Straight (M) by Bill Konigsberg
(rec'd by Claire) I’ll be honest, I was hesitant about this book when I first picked it up, but I ended up loving it dearly! It’s a super interesting take on the coming out story and though I wanted to smack Rafe upside the head a few times, his story and Ben’s are ones that carry a lot of weight.
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda (M) by Becky Albertalli
(rec'd by Claire) I don’t know what I can say about this book that hasn’t already been said a million times before. Please please please go read it.
They Both Die at the End (M) by Adam Silvera
(rec'd by Claire) Like all of Adam’s books, this will have you ugly crying in bed at 3am because you just can’t put it down. He weaves together so many narratives that will have you gasping in awe as you realize how they all fit in.   Our very own authors are so talented, so how could we not rec as many as we could? Since a lot of you have read the more well-known fics with queer characters already, we aimed to show you our favorites that you may not have yet read.  
  Abby Freaking Suso by clairevergreen/@clevernotbrilliant [Simon]
(rec'd by Rumpels) A story about slowly progressing desire and self-realization, Abby Freaking Suso is wonderfully sarcastic and all-around charming. Leah’s characterization is handled in such a brilliant way and I love how slowly the relationship changed over time to become absolutely everything. 
Dreams of Glass (M) by @nott theodore [HP]
(rec'd by Rumpels) Like all of Sian’s work, this is beautifully written (and I mean stunning, I have no idea how to write imagery quite like this). I’ve always been a sucker for Gellert/Albus but this one had me shook. The amount of feelings evoked from this piece is incredible and I highly, highly, highly recommend this. 
Eyes Like Skies by @FireOpal [HP]
(rec'd by Eva) Dominique, in this story, speaks to her love Imogen, and everything about this just reads as a beautiful, poetic love letter. It feels so personal, and really, that’s such an amazing thing to accomplish in writing fic.
Half Dead by @facingthenorthwind [HP]
(rec'd by Rumpels) This is the sequel to two certainties, which if you haven’t read that emotional rollercoaster, you definitely should, (see also: My poor, poor heart, the Sequel.) It’s a wonderful continuation of two certainties and I can’t imagine a way to possibly make this writing better. On top of being extremely well-written, it’s so much fun to read and I absolutely ADORED it. Careful though, it’ll continue to break your heart in the best way.
in the dawn, we shall enter the splendid cities. (M) by @Aphoride [Les Mis]
(rec'd by Eva) As we all know, Laura is a complete goddess at descriptions. The beauty with which she paints each individual scene, and the development of the relationship between Grantaire and Enjolras, is just absolutely breathtaking. This is not a romance in the typical sense, but it is well, well, well worth a read.
Life Reflected in Death (M) by M C Crocker/@scooterbug8515 [HP]
(rec'd by Rumpels) Insta-headcanon material. This does some wonderful character exploration on Regulus Black in the most brutally devastating way. It reveals much more about Regulus than I typically see explored and shows how much things like his sexuality have impacted him in his life.
Lingering by @banshee [Simon]
(rec'd by Eva) So I’m not including a summary here because if you haven’t yet read Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, you’re going to get spoiled. So, go and read Simon, and then come back to this fic, because it’s like Julie pulled these characters straight from the book. They’re adorable and so relatable, and their dialogue is everything.
Peppermint (M) by @sapphicsunrise [HP]
(rec'd by Eva) This Ginny/Luna one-shot is short and adorable. Every second is filled with something that can warm your heart (including a hilarious appearance from the most canon non-canon duo, Seamus and Dean), and just watching Ginny and Luna drifting closer together will make your day.
Something (M) by @Chelts-rhj [HP]
(rec'd by Rumpels) Let’s be honest, when am I not impressed by this author’s writing? Something is a beautifully written piece about Dominique Weasley and a woman she positively adores. It tackles the heavy topic of eating disorders and the struggle Dominique faces while watching that woman struggle. Everything about this is handled so well and I cannot get over how deeply this piece moved me. 
Stolen Away (M) by @MegGonagall [HP]
(rec'd by Eva) What I absolutely adore about this fic is how it’s told from fugitive Sirius Black’s perspective. He remembers the joy and emotion from his past with Remus, and it’s that longing that really makes this fic so good. Meg did an amazing job with this!
Unstoppable by @sihaya [HP]
(rec'd by Eva) Short and sweet, this one-shot shows a short moment in the lives of Albus and Scorpius as they deliberate coming out to their families, and there’s just so much hope and honesty in these 740 words that you can’t help but feel touched.
Until the End of the World by @Stella Blue [Legend of Korra]
(rec'd by Eva) Fans of Legend of Korra, this is just for you. (However, I read this even though I’ve never watched the series, and I still loved it.) Every moment of this fic is pure fluff and happy, magical goodness, and you will be rewarded with depictions of a gorgeous world and a gorgeous couple.
  Your Way of Living (M) by @Dojh167 [HP]
(rec'd by Eva) If you’ve ever read Sam’s beautiful When I Go Out With You, you will love this short one-shot that details Susan’s moments where she first embraces herself as a poly person. (It features Luna, too!) And even if you haven’t read WIGOWY, you should read this one-shot anyway. It’s such a beautiful, eye-opening look at polyamory.   And of course there are other stories that we want to recommend that may not fall under books or fics! Check, Please! (M for language) [comic]
(rec'd by Eva) Eric Bittle is guaranteed to brighten up your day, with his abundant usage of Southern colloquialisms and his adorable obsession with baking, as he navigates being on a men’s hockey team (despite being scared to death of…bumping into other people). This story, while not perfect, is heartwarming and honest and true, with bright and beautiful graphics, and you will not regret reading this! (I binged this all at 3 a.m., if that accounts for anything. )
Fallout Series [video games]
(rec'd by Rumpels) Many video games have been increasingly adding LGBTQA+ characters and integrating player-led romances. Games in the Fallout series, a series of post-apocalyptic action role-playing games, have always been leading the way with this inclusivity.  Fallout (1997) was one of the first major releases to feature same-sex marriage in a video game. As far as player-led romances go, the Fallout series have always left sexuality choices open to the players preference. And while there are a lot of stories to be told as there are many different character outcomes based on player interaction, let me just tell you one of my most recent. In Fallout 4, one of the companions available to your character (to travel with you) is a spunky, stubborn, and fabulous NPC character named Piper. NPCs nerby will either like or dislike your decisions based on the decisions you make throughout the game, and you build a rapport with these characters. Long-story-short, my [female] game character winds up in some sort of relationship with this character. The only problem is that if I choose a different companion at this point, Piper extremely dislikes that which puts me in a predicament when it comes to finishing side-quests that require other companions.    We wanted to end this blog post with your personal stories.  Thank you so, so much to everyone who sent one in, it means a lot to us! And quick reminder that if you still want to write a piece, you can. <3
@scooterbug8515 --- That's it for today's post! We hope you enjoyed reading through it, and that perhaps you'll even pick up one of the rec'd stories or two.  We just want you guys to know that you are loved, and that you are safe here, and that you're all amazing. Keep being you, guys. We're going to sign off for now! Thank you for reading. <3 - The Prefects recs by clevernotbrilliant, just.a.willow.tree, Rumpelstiltskin
personal stories by just.a.willow.tree, MalfoysAngel, MuggleMaybe, scooterbug8515
graphics by just.a.willow.tree

In the Spotlight - May 21, 2018

Hello, HPFTers! Welcome to another edition of In the Spotlight, a monthly post in the Prefect Blog that features interviews with the winners of special awards and a review column for the Story of the Month.  This month, in addition to the interviews with the Order of Merlin winners, the prefects are happy to present interviews with the two Head Students winners and the author of May's Story of the Month! (Because this month's post is rather long, definitely feel free to minimize each quote box once you're done reading. ) We hope you enjoy!     Today we're featuring @RoxiMalfoy, the winner of the Order of Merlin last month, and @Ineke, who is this month's winner! Both are extremely well-deserving of their awards, and so hopefully you'll get to know them a little better through these interviews. RoxiMalfoy Ineke   These interviews with the Head Students are a new feature!  We gave the two Head Students, @facingthenorthwind and @Nix, different sets of questions (though there are two questions that are the same in both), and without further ado, here they are! facingthenorthwind Nix Stand Tall
by @Chelts-rhj R E V I E W   C O L U M N Finding a story that features a character with a disability is a rare occurrence for me but I most generally find them to be both insightfully and engagingly rewarding. Stand Tall does not dissatisfy this preconception as we follow the quirky, sassy main character, Alba Williamson, through her journey at Hogwarts as she faces her typical life alongside a daily struggle with Cerebral Palsy. To add to the fantastic work creating the loveable, witty Alba whose sense of humor has consistently knocked me out of my chair [and other on-point characterization as well, because let’s not forget the absolute stunning job Chelts did with characters like James Sirius Potter, Chandra and Ben Honeypucker], the interactions between the characters make them shine so much brighter. Some cleverly crafted dialogue and brassy narrative makes the interplay between the already fascinating characters of this piece especially noteworthy. That’s not to say that this WIP is all fun and games. Beneath the surface of all the hilarity remains the hardships Alba must face, only agitated further by her struggle with her disability. There are downright disheartening moments where the Cerebral Palsy seems to be getting the better of her and, with bated breath, we wait to see how she’ll fight to pull herself up again. Anxiously, we read on, hoping that Alba will pull through as she always has.  To top it off, her disability isn’t the only thing she has to look out for. Being a teenage witch comes with some heavy baggage of its own, especially in the wake of the return of the Triwizard Tournament.  Stand Tall was simple to become swept up in and carried away from one chapter to the next. If you’re looking for a story to instantly fall in love with, this is definitely the story for you. I N T E R V I E W   W I T H   T H E   A U T H O R --- This wraps up the new edition of In the Spotlight! Please comment below and let us know what you think of the new additions, and if there's anything you might like to see from this blog. If you have questions you might like to ask future Order of Merlin, Head Student, or Story of the Month winners, feel free to post them below!  We really hope you enjoyed this issue, and we'll see you in a couple weeks for our special Pride Month post.   - The Prefects interviews compiled by dreamgazer220, forever_dreaming, just.a.willow.tree, Rumpelstiltskin, Slytherinchica08
review column by Rumpelstiltskin
graphics by just.a.willow.tree

Poetry Over Prose - May 7, 2018

"Everyone sees, feels, responds to the poetry of the world every day. In a sunrise over rooftops, a dogwood in bloom, a child's bike leaning against a fence, a pair of tennis shoes hanging by their laces from a telephone wire, a moth's wing spread on the screen door, the sound of a train in the distance, the smell of fresh bread. Everyone falls in love with the world daily and we have no words for what spellbinds us. Poems need to be made to recognize that sense of wordless awe.”
 —Dorianne Laux Welcome, HPFT-ers, to the first installment of the Prefect Blog’s special posts! On the 7th of every month, we’ll select a relevant theme and create a post about it. As April was National Poetry Month, the prefects wanted to take an opportunity to feature our favorite aspects of poetry and share them with you. We hope you enjoy this special issue!   One of the most enlightening aspects about reading poetry is the process of analyzing and understanding the piece, and though your interpretation may differ from someone else’s, that’s the beauty of it all! Our very own @Rumpelstiltskin (with help from @forever_dreaming and @just.a.willow.tree) put together a detailed post about this in the Writing Resources section of the forums here+. In addition, we’ve also written a guide to poetic meter here+ (which is essentially an explanation of the thing that makes Dr. Seuss’s poems so much fun to read aloud ). Check it out if you have time, and perhaps you can apply it when you read poetry from the wonderful authors on our archives!   In these next two sections, we wanted to feature poems by authors on our archive, as well as poems from published anthologies! We’ve divided them up into two categories: poems that use form and poems that use sound. We definitely encourage you to look through the poems that we’ve linked to on the archives and leave them thoughtful reviews, because writing poetry is difficult and our authors do it beautifully.  (All poems are linked; click on them to read the full piece.) This first section highlights a few fascinating poetic forms that you may not have known about! SESTINA Both @forever_dreaming and @just.a.willow.tree happened to write sestinas for their English class, so we thought it appropriate to talk a little more about what sestinas are. (They are very, very cool. You should check them out afterwards! Here+ is a much more in-depth explanation of the form, if you’re curious. ) Essentially, sestinas are a very repetitive type of poem, except oftentimes poets use creativity and ingenuity to work around the repetition. In each stanza (except for the last) there are six lines, and at the end of each line is a designated word. These six “last words” are then reordered throughout the other stanzas, though they will always be the last words of the line. This might sound confusing, but here is a visual representation, with each letter representing a “last word” in a line: 1. ABCDEF
7. (envoi) ECA or ACE It’s easier to understand with an example poem. Take a look at W.H. Auden’s “Paysage Moralisé”: Hearing of harvests rotting in the valleys,
Seeing at end of street the barren mountains,
Round corners coming suddenly on water,
Knowing them shipwrecked who were launched for islands,
We honour founders of these starving cities
Whose honour is the image of our sorrow, Which cannot see its likeness in their sorrow
That brought them desperate to the brink of valleys;
Dreaming of evening walks through learned cities
They reined their violent horses on the mountains,
Those fields like ships to castaways on islands,
Visions of green to them who craved for water. They built by rivers and at night the water
Running past windows comforted their sorrow;
Each in his little bed conceived of islands
Where every day was dancing in the valleys
And all the green trees blossomed on the mountains,
Where love was innocent, being far from cities. But dawn came back and they were still in cities;
No marvellous creature rose up from the water;
There was still gold and silver in the mountains
But hunger was a more immediate sorrow,
Although to moping villagers in valleys
Some waving pilgrims were describing islands… 'The gods,' they promised, 'visit us from islands,
Are stalking, head-up, lovely, through our cities;
Now is the time to leave your wretched valleys
And sail with them across the lime-green water,
Sitting at their white sides, forget your sorrow,
The shadow cast across your lives by mountains.’ So many, doubtful, perished in the mountains,
Climbing up crags to get a view of islands,
So many, fearful, took with them their sorrow
Which stayed them when they reached unhappy cities,
So many, careless, dived and drowned in water,
So many, wretched, would not leave their valleys. It is our sorrow. Shall it melt? Then water
Would gush, flush, green these mountains and these valleys,
And we rebuild our cities, not dream of islands. Notice how the last words of every line are reused over and over again in each stanza, except in a different order every time. Sestinas are beautiful poems this way. In this instance, Auden uses the repetition to paint different images with the same words, and it works beautifully. In “weary”, @just.a.willow.tree uses a similar technique as Auden: embracing the elements of repetition built-into the form of a sestina to emphasize the weariness of the main characters and the tragic perpetuity of the pain and injustice they feel. However, the repetition of the end words can be twisted to enhance the poem in a different way too. For example, in “Passing Time”, @forever_dreaming manipulates the words themselves, altering their spelling or using homophones in order to convey the paradoxical nature of time passing both quickly and at a snail’s speed. If you’re curious about another fascinating sestina, check out Carole Oles’ “The Magician Suspends Her Children”. It is so creative and clever, you will almost definitely have a lot of fun deciphering the meaning of the poem while also paying attention how amazing it is, the way she wields her words. VILLANELLE Another interesting form is a villanelle! This is a 19-line poem, typically composed of five tercets (a three-line stanza) that follow the rhyming pattern aba, with a final quatrain (a four-line stanza) that follow the rhyming pattern abaa. The first and third lines of the initial tercet are alternately repeated as the third lines of the following tercets (and then are presented as the ending couplet of the quatrain). A visual example of the rhyming scheme of a standard six stanza villanelle might be helpful. 1. AbA
2. abA
3. abA
4. abA
5. abA
6. abAA What might be even more helpful is seeing this in an actual poem. Take a look at "Do not go gentle into that good night" by Dylan Thomas, as an example [emphases added]: Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light. Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night. Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light. Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night. Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light. And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light. There are two beautiful examples of villanelles on our archives, both by the lovely @abhorsen.! In “And when the wind whistles through me, I am free” and “And still there’s the wind to batter and moan”, the perfectly-crafted repeated phrases set the tone of the poem. Yet with each new stanza, these phrases gradually shift and grow in meaning as more of the poem is unveiled. We cannot recommend these two poems enough! HAIKU A haiku is a form of Japanese poetry that consists of 17 syllables that are arranged in three lines of five, seven, and five. A fun aspect of a haiku is that the short pieces are meant to encapsulate a single impression on something, in a particular season. This creates a sense of simplicity and intense expression.  To assist in the visualization, take a look at a haiku from Basho Matsuo, and notice the syllables in each line: An old silent pond…
A frog jumps into the pond,
splash! Silence again. And we have a number of elegant haikus on the archives as well! One example is from M C Crocker (or @scooterbug8515 on the forums), with her collection of season-inspired haikus: “One Love One Year”. Each poem perfectly captures the essence of the season within such a small number of syllables. Definitely go check out this piece if you have time!   One of the main differences between poetry and prose is the manipulation of how words sound. Poets choose words whose sound reflects the meaning they are trying to convey, creating a more immersive experience and enhancing their meaning further; sound makes poetry more vivid and sensory than prose. One of the classic sound devices is onomatopoeia, or, simply, when a word sounds like what it means.  English is a cool language in that lots of words are onomatopoeic to some degree. The obvious examples are words like “crash”, “clang”, “smash”, etc. But other words have a subtler onomatopoeic effect. For example, consider Matthew Arnold’s “Dover Beach”. We’ve only put an excerpt below, but do check out the entire poem if you have time. (We recommend reading the poem out aloud to yourself, to get the full effect!): The sea is calm tonight. 
The tide is full, the moon lies fair
Upon the straits; on the French coast the light 
Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand, 
Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay; 
Come to the window, sweet is the night-air! 
Only, from the long line of spray
Where the sun meets the moon-blanched land, 
Listen! You hear the grating roar
Of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling, 
At their return, up the high strand, 
Begin, and cease, and then again begin, 
With tremulous cadence slow, and bring
The eternal note of sadness in.  In the first stanza, Arnold uses heavy sound-focused imagery. The long “ea” sound in “gleams” mimics the word, just as the long “a” in “vast” stretches out the word to further emphasize the image of the vast ocean. Similarly, the quick “imm” sound in “glimmering” mimics the action. Arnold does this purposely; he practically tells us this, with a command for the audience to “Listen!” and other sound-related diction, like “cadence” and “note”. In this first stanza, Arnold is building a sound-based image of the cliffs of Dover, which he then contrasts with a more sight-based image of the cliffs of Dover, to illustrate the difference between expectation and reality—a central theme in the poem.  Alliteration is the repetition of the first letter or consonant. In “Dover Beach”, Arnold alliterates “gl” in “glimmer” and “gleam”, to emphasize these two words; this alliteration brings focus to the inherently contradictory picture Arnold is trying to present, of something that is both ephemeral (that glimmers for a short amount of time) and enduring (that gleams forever). Alliteration helps poets draw attention to specific words and forces the reader to connect the images these words present.  @Alexis Black’s “The Wind Chimes are Calling to Me” is a great example of a poem that is enhanced by manipulations of sound. The use of words that sound like the term they are describing, such as “whisper”, “sigh”, and “murmur”, truly enhances the poem and brings it to life, and it’s this vibrancy that adds a tinge of nostalgia to the piece.   The main purpose of this post was to celebrate National Poetry month while highlighting a few of our talented authors. So here are a few more poems that we would like to recommend to you from the archives: “What is life” - @Felpata_Lupin “When Spring Doesn’t Return” - @Rumpelstiltskin “Poetry Collection” (M) - @MalfoysAngel “Truths and Lies” - @TreacleTart “an absence of sound” - @just.a.willow.tree “Love Is a Whisper In Your Soul” - @abhorsen. “Supernova” - @TreacleTart “The place where planes take off and land” - @Felpata_Lupin “Dreamwalker” - @Alexis Black “Pillars of Smoke” (M) - @abhorsen. "From" - @Stella Blue (not exactly a poem but beautiful nonetheless) --- This has been our special blog post for May! We understand that poetry isn’t something that everyone enjoys, but hopefully after reading this, you’ve taken away a few things. (And, who knows, maybe this’ll help you out in the next reviewing event when you stumble across a poem!) Let us know what you think of the post, if you like/dislike poetry, or if there’s anything you’d like to see in the future! - The Prefects written by forever_dreaming, just.a.willow.tree, and Rumpelstiltskin
graphics by just.a.willow.tree

In the Spotlight - April 23, 2018

April 23, 2018 Welcome to the debut of the revamped, bimonthly Prefect Blog! Aspiring to further add some creative material to our already amazing and ever-growing site, your Prefects are proud to present this collaboration of fun, facts, and frivolity. In addition to expanding upon the preexisting monthly site awards (the Order of Merlin and the Story of the Month), we have planned some exciting content to present. We're hoping to provide not only entertainment, but some meaningful, relevant, and informative material as well. Without further ado, here are some interviews with previous Order of Merlin winners as well as a review of April's Story of the Month! Enjoy!   Our wonderful staffers bring an indescribable light and life to the HPFT community, from the detailed and fun events that they plan to their presence on the site in general! The Order of Merlin is awarded each month to a staffer who has gone above and beyond in their duties, and the Prefects wanted to feature interviews with each staffer who wins this award. To make up for lost time, we’re going to compile a set of interviews from all of the previous winners from 2018, and from this month forward, we will continue to feature interviews with future Order of Merlin staffers! This month, we will be featuring the Order of Merlin winners from February and March: @Alopex and @abhorsen.. Next month, we will feature April's winner, @RoxiMalfoy as well as the May Order of Merlin winner (to be announced, so keep an eye out). And now, here are the interviews: Alopex abhorsen.   Letter to the Lost
by @Crimson Quill Everyone, if you have not yet read Abbi’s beautiful story yet, head over there immediately (and leave her a review while you’re at it)! This story has that distinctive writing style that we have all come to love and expect from Abbi, and with the added bonus of being from the wonderful "Sirius Black is Gay Challenge." The pairing is perhaps one of the rarest pairs I have seen yet (Sirius Black/Caradoc Dearborn), yet Abbi manages to highlight how these two bring out the best in each other in a single short section. This is a story about love and loss in the midst of a cruel war, and you will read it and love it. I can’t say more without giving away the crux of Sirius’s amazing development, but just know that this story is more than worth your time, and definitely deserves to be April’s Story of the Month. --- This wraps up the debut of our revamped Prefect Blog! We hope you enjoyed this issue, and if you did, make sure to keep an eye out for the next one on May 7. If you have any questions you would like to ask future Order of Merlin winners, feel free to post below, or just leave a comment! Any and all feedback would be appreciated. Thank you for reading! - The Prefects graphics by just.a.willow.tree

FROGS 2018 Reading List!

Hey everyone! Voting threads for the FROGS categories will be open soon, in the meantime here is a full reading list for your perusal! Best Humor (Fan)fiction Nominations Hormones (M) by dirtydeedsdonedirtcheap @Deeds Immortal Misconceptions (M) by @AbraxanUnicorn When Dahlias Bloom (M) by @dirigibleplums In Which Ron and Harry Discuss Everything But Quidditch by @Veritaserum27   Best Romance (Fan)fiction Nominations A Candle (M) by @abhorsen./Beeezie Nights Like This (M) by @banshee When I Go Out with You (M) by @Dojh167 Skewed Toward Truth (M) by @MuggleMaybe Thrill (M) by @nott theodore When Spring Doesn't Return (M) by @Rumpelstiltskin   Best Minor HP Character Nominations Peter Pettigrew in Liar (M) by @Felpata_Lupin Crookshanks in Hermione's Betrayal by @forever_dreaming Anthony Goldstein from First Lit, Last Burning by @MuggleMaybe Roxanne Weasley in Jigsaw (M) by @nott theodore Olive Hornby in Dear Myrtle by @Stella Blue Lysander Scamander from Lightning Love (M) by @toomanycurls   Best Angst (Fan)fiction Nominations Beyond Repair by @MuggleMaybe Gods Without Grace (M) by @dirigibleplums Haunting Shadows (M) by @dreamgazer220 silence.death. (M) by @poppunkpadfoot This Misery Will Suffice (M) by @BellaLestrange87   Best Family/Friendship Nominations Fred II & Victoire Weasley in Shenanigans, Capers, and Hi-Jinks (M) by @abhorsen./Beeezie Lavender Brown/Parvati Patil in to the end of time (M) by @clevernotbrilliant Dumbledore family in Prisoner by @Crimson Quill Chloe & her family in red luck by justawillowtree/ @just.a.willow.tree Peter Pettigrew and Sirius Black in Secret Keeper by @poppunkpadfoot   Best LGBTQIA+ Character Nominations Hannah Abbott in When I Go Out With You (M) by @Dojh167 Albus Severus Potter from And the World Went On by @manno-malfoy Albus Severus Potter in the 'Before the Sun Sets' Series by @toomanycurls   Best Major HP Character Nominations Albus Severus Potter from And the World Goes On by @manno-malfoy Hermione Granger from After Life (M) by @MegGonagall Lily Luna Potter from Icarus (M) by @Stella Blue Petunia Evans/Dursley from Beyond Repair by @MuggleMaybe   Best Dark/Horror (Fan)fiction Nominations Erasure (M) by @AbraxanUnicorn Muggle Studies (M) by @esmeraude The Skull Beneath the Skin (M) by @esmeraude Spiral (M) by @Rumpelstiltskin Got You (M) by @sihaya Bruises (M) by @TreacleTart   Best Original Fiction Nominations a garden of weeds (M) by @ailhsa23 The Wind Chimes Are Calling To Me by @Alexis Black Fall in Love with a Writer by @manno-malfoy I Am by @Rumpelstiltskin From by @Stella Blue   Best Original Character Nominations Brendon Greengrass from Sidenote: Greengrass dys/function by @abhorsen./Beeezie Dahlia Darzi from When Dahlias Bloom (M) by @dirigibleplums Hero Blishwick from Hero (M) by @victoria_anne Piper Stone from House of Stone (M) by @WindingArrow Roxi Zarooni from Love, Not War (M) by @RoxiMalfoy   Best Depiction of Mental Illness/Disability Nominations Words and Silences (M) by @Shadowkat678 The Department (M) by @poppunkpadfoot keyframe by @forever_dreaming Dead Eyes and Red Eyes (M) by @abhorsen./Beeezie   Best HP Rare Pair Nominations Cormac McLaggen/Eloise Midgeon in Logarithmic (M) by @val Dorcas Meadowes/Marlene McKinnon in war and mint by @sihaya Lavender Brown/Parvati Patil in Parisian Scars (M) by @Crimson Quill   Best Non-HP Fandom Nominations Silence Cuts Loudest Through the Chaos (M) by @1917farmgirl Hero (M) by @banshee Age of Change by M C Crocker/ @scooterbug8515   Most Versatile Author Nominations @abhorsen./Beeezie @BlackPixie @melian @nott theodore @PaulaTheProkaryote @pookha   Best Reviewer Nominations @Felpata_Lupin @forever_dreaming @just.a.willow.tree @PaulaTheProkaryote @Rumpelstiltskin @Stella Blue @victoria_anne




Branwen Appreciation Post!

I'm here to post a gift on behalf of a Pass It Along participant.  To: abhorsen. From: Keeper of the North - - - For my last gift in the Pass It Along Challenge, I thought it was appropriate to share an appreciation post for everything my giftee has done for HPFT.  She’s known around this corner of the internet as abhorsen., but you might also know her as Beeezie or Branwen.   Here’s just a few of the many things we love about her: She’s one of our fearless leaders. If you have any questions or concerns about the forums or archives, she’s always available to help those in need. She’s brilliant.  Have you taken a look at her AP? Her stories are amazing and all written so well -- and not to mention she finds time to be an awesome graphic artist on TDA as well! She’s open-minded.  She might have helped create the forums or the archives, but she’s also open to suggestions, feedback, and tag requests! She’s passionate about subjects she cares about. She’s dedicated.  She’s constantly working with other members of the staff behind the scenes to make sure things continue to run smoothly for us. Thank you for everything you’ve done for the happiest corner of the internet.  HPFT wouldn’t be the same without you.  --Keeper of the North Have something you love about Branwen?  Sound off in the comments below!




June Prefect Challenge Results

Now that we have blogs, it seemed worth reposting these results here
The Coming Out Challenge Results (Again) Back in June, as a celebration of Pride Month, the first ever Bi-Monthly Prefect Writing Challenge used the following prompt: Write a story under 10,000 words about someone coming out as queer.   WINNERS Third place: A Sudden Bi-alisation by FireOpal
  Second place: What lies beneath by melian
  First place: And Again (M) by nott theodore
  All three entries are amazing - we definitely recommend checking them out! And thank you so much to those who entered! Winners, you are responsible for messaging a MuggleMaybe, Diogenissa, or clevernotbrilliant to let us know which stories you'd like reviewed and if you have a preferred theme for your pic spam. Please credit abhorsen. for the graphics.  You can check out the August Prefect Writing Challenge +here.



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