Dear wanderer,

Perhaps you grew up dreaming of receiving your Hogwarts letter, or stumbling upon Narnia. Perhaps you long to visit Pemberley, to Defy Gravity, or to go to the ball. I will write you that letter, and build you that wardrobe. [A metaphorical wardrobe, that is.] Here you will find step-by-step lesson plans with takeaway homework assignments that show you how to embody fictional heroines in the everyday. This means chasing your dreams and making the impossible happen with your own inner magic.

For the full experience, you can Own Your Story, or join me for a literary tea party.

You have the potential. Heroine Training provides the tools.

Welcome to our headquarters, where dreams meet reality, where fiction is cherished, where magic is real.

Sincerely, your guide on this journey,

P.S. Read more about Heroine Training

How Your Friends Can Help You, Based on Their Hogwarts Houses

How Your Friends Can Help You, Based on Their Hogwarts Houses

When you need support from your friends, here’s what to expect based on their Hogwarts house.

Whether it’s a big passion project, or figuring out a personal funk, it’s useful to know what kind of support you need.

Do you want advice or support? Once you’re clear, consider your friends’ Hogwarts houses when seeking it.

If you have to ask a Hufflepuff for Slytherin kind of support, keep in mind their tendency to help in their way, and be clear on what you need from them.

How Your Friends Can Help You, Based on Their Hogwarts Houses

For hands-on help, look to Hufflepuffs and Ravenclaws.

You can’t do everything on your own. When you need to delegate, Hufflepuffs and Ravenclaws will happily oblige.

HUFFLEPUFFS will want to get involved behind the scenes. 

They will help you stuff party favour bags or fold programmes for your play. They will help you pack boxes when you’re moving. Hufflepuffs believe that labour is love, and want in on the action. 

When Justin Finch-Fletchly felt vulnerable, his fellow Hufflepuffs formed into a physical barrier to guard him from the Heir of Slytheirn!

RAVENCLAWS will want to help you figure stuff out.

Count on them for bottomless brainstorms, when you feel stuck or confused. They will help you identify options, and will deliver you pages of notes and stacks of library books to aid you. They will give you extensive feedback, and are eager for the excuse to do some research for you.

Ravenclaws are always seeking explanations. Luna often offers diagnoses for her friends’ problems with magical creatures’ interference, such as wrackspurts.

For unconditional support and confidence, look to Gryffindors and Slytherins.

If you’re not looking for a helping hand so much as someone to tell you you’re great, Gryffindors and Slytherins have got your back.

GRYFFINDORS will be your loudest cheerleaders.

If you have something to promote, count on us to help spread the word. We can’t wait to brag about our awesome friends. We love the sound of our own voices anyway, so give us a message to share! If you’re looking to fill seats at your event, your Gryffindor friends will come, and bring all their friends as well.

Lee Jordan is the spokesperson for all Quidditch matches, and can’t help but bring his Gryffindor bias. Often, Professor McGonagall doesn’t even bother to neutralise him because, well, she’s a Gryffindor too!

SLYTHERINS will provide the ultimate pep talk. 

They are your ‘real friends’, according to the Sorting Hat, and will take your side even when you’re wrong. They will defend and motivate you because they believe you’re excellent – or they wouldn’t waste time being friends with you! A Slytherin enemy is a force to be reckoned with, but a Slytherin friend is an invaluable supporter.

For Slytherins, emotional support is no joke. Let’s face it. Crabbe and Goyle aren’t useful for much, but their presence is what counts for Draco. 

What is your Hogwarts house? Does it align with how you most often support your friends?

P.S. For more magical insight into your personality, request your complimentary Personal Wizard Profile!

London’s Hampstead / Fit for a Heroine

London's Hampstead / Fit for a Heroine


Welcome heroines, to the charming village of Hampstead in North London.

Here we venture to an area of London famous for its artistic and literary heritage. Start your tour on a Sunday late morning; for I think a heroine should be allowed a lie-in, an extra rest from all of her adventures!

I hope you have on some comfortable shoes, because Hampstead is a place for walking. There are self-guided tours available, and some say that Hampstead has the highest number of blue plaques in the capital, as it has been home to so many notable people throughout history.

London's Hampstead / Fit for a Heroine

We start on Hampstead High Street, a busy main road, lined with boutiques, alfresco cafes, and patisseries.

It’s tempting to take a seat here and watch the world go by, and you can see all manner of dog breeds pass, as their owners take them towards Hampstead Heath for ‘walkies’. It is also not uncommon to see the odd famous face here!

Begin at Melrose and Morgan grocery, which is a perfect if you plan on having a picnic later on the Heath. They stock fresh fruit and vegetables, and a delicious choice of artisan breads and cakes, as well as hot drinks to send you on your way if there’s a chill in the air.

London's Hampstead / Fit for a Heroine

Our first port of call is Keats’ House and the Keats Community Library.

It’s here where John Keats wrote many of his romantic poems, and fell in love with his neighbour Fanny Brawne. It’s said that he wrote his most famous poem, Ode to a Nightingale, under the plum tree in the garden.

The library often hosts talks by prominent authors as well as other events. Rather than being a council-owned public library, it is charity-run by passionate volunteers.

It is also a wonderful place to write, and given the many writers who have lived in Hampstead, I like to think I’m not the only writer who has crafted stories under this roof.

Continue on to Hampstead Heath…

While strolling through this vast park of natural beauty, it’s quite easy to forget you’re in the city at all. It covers 790 acres with rolling hills, lakes, swimming ponds and woodland.

Here is where Wilkie Collins’ gothic novel The Woman in White is set, and movies such Labyrinth were filmed here during the days when Jim Henson’s Creature Shop was based in Hampstead.

A walk up to Parliament Hill is rewarded by a sprawling vista of London’s skyline, and on a clear day, it is easy to spot the capital’s famous landmarks.

London's Hampstead / Fit for a Heroine

Visit the stately Kenwood House

Walk through ancient woodland, rich with wildlife to reach Kenwood House, which was featured in the film Notting Hill, and was a setting in the recent period film Belle. It also made an appearance in Zadie Smith’s novel, Swing Time.

There are lovely gardens, which in spring are bursting with colour from the various blossom trees, and the air is scented with honeysuckle. The house overlooks a lake and a folly bridge, and is the ideal spot to lay down your picnic blanket, sit back and read for a while or daydream.

In the summer months, open-air concerts and craft fairs are common features in the grounds.

London's Hampstead / Fit for a Heroine

From here we will leave the Heath and walk down to The Spaniards Inn.

A spot of lunch here would satisfy any lover of history, as the pub dates back to the late 16th century and was once a haunt of the highwayman, Dick Turpin.

The pub also has a rich literary history, having featured in the famous Gothic novel Dracula, by Bram Stoker and in Charles Dickens’ The Pickwick Papers. Poets such as Lord Byron and John Keats were also regulars here.

The food here is delicious and there are veggie options available. This cosy pub this the perfect place to relax after all that walking!

London's Hampstead / Fit for a Heroine

A short amble away is the Hampstead Pergola and Hill Gardens.

This enchanting place is tucked away and is a real hidden gem. It dates from 1904 and is filled with twisting vines and wisteria.

To walk here is to feel lost in time, and the faded grandeur of the place certainly makes it atmospheric.

When I wander here, and perhaps take a seat to read or write, I can easily see myself as a Gothic heroine, haunted by my own imagination and by the lonely splendour of this pergola.

London's Hampstead / Fit for a Heroine

End the day at Hampstead Everyman Cinema

Our final stop is at the Hampstead Everyman Cinema, which shows new releases as well as independent films, world cinema, and classics. Sit on a cosy sofa to enjoy the film, and press the button at your side to order a glass of wine, pizza, snacks, or a dessert.

They often host events such as preview screenings and Live Q&As with film makers and stars. This is luxurious escapism at its best.

London's Hampstead / Fit for a HeroineHeather Blanchard is a witchy author, writer, and bibliophile. Her debut novel Dark is the Sea is out now and she is currently working on her second book. She blogs at about magic, fairy tales, Gothic, and pop culture.

Xandra recommends > Creative Types vs Procrastination

Is your hometown the perfect fit for a heroine? I’m always looking for fabulous locals to contribute to this Fit for a Heroine travel guide series. If you’re interested in writing for Heroine Training, read the guidelines and get in touch.

3 Things to Do Instead of Multitasking

3 Things to Do Instead of Multitasking

Not a newsflash: Multitasking is bad for you. 

You know this, I know this, and yet…I can’t help myself. 

New episode of The Amazing Race? Bring on the snacks. 

Walking somewhere? Earphones in, automatically. 

I’ve decided it’s time to train my brain to focus, be patient, and do one thing at a time. 

Instead of just internally yelling at myself to focus focus focus, I’ve identified three alternatives for multitasking. Three actual, tangible tasks to bring me back to the present.

3 Things to do instead of Multitasking

1. Notice Things.

Here’s a fun game, as simple as it sounds: notice things. 

Notice your surroundings

At Oxford I remember standing outside college on Turl Street, waiting for a friend for lunch. I resisted the urge to pull out my (flip) phone, instead challenging myself to look at the buildings in front of me, follow the ivy curling up the walls. Was there always a clock there?

As an undergraduate, I kept reminding myself to drink in Oxford’s beauty with the urgency I felt as a teenage summer student, in awe of my first visit, knowing that in a few short weeks I might never return (but I did; yay). It’s the perfect place to be stressed because its scenery will hit you over the head until you finally stop to appreciate it.

Find beauty in any place

Even if you’re not in an obviously attractive place, remember that your experience is shaped by what you pay attention to. Notice the breeze. Notice the lettering on a sign you glance at every day. Notice how the leaves on the tree are different from the day before.

If you’re on a screen, notice what’s on the screen.

I’m tempted to switch tabs when I’m watching YouTube, particularly something like the Pretty Little Liars After Show, because they’re just talking. 

So I play the noticing game and analyse the ladies’ awesome outfits. I appreciate the art of their eyeshadow. I pay attention to the fun props. I make eye contact through the screen and deepen my commitment to connection. 

Stuck in a bad movie, my mind drifts to my to do list. I opt out in my mind, deciding that what’s in front of me is not worth my attention. My concentration becomes divided, trying to ignore the film in front of me [with that blasted immersive surround sound], trying to keep track of the thoughts whirling through my brain. 

I get stressed. My body gets physically tense. Better to focus on something, anything that involves engaging with what is in front of me. If the story is sour, note the costumes and set details. Pay attention to the accents and voices. The soundtrack. Play along at least peripherally. 

3 Things to Do Instead of Multitasking

2. Breathe.

All it takes is a little whisper: breathe.

Hey self? You know that thing you do all day to stay alive? Why not do it fully?

When I notice my breath, I’m surprised by how shallow and short it is, especially when I’m tense from trying to do too many things at once.

Enjoy the luxury of a lungful of air (or two). It’s free after all, and much more scrumptious than scrolling mindlessly through screens will reward you. 

This one requires credit to Kitty Cavalier for teaching me how to 💕romance my breath💕, for insisting on starting all her Vérité sessions with that dreaded deep breathing until it finally sunk in that yes this is a very good idea.

3 Things to Do Instead of Multitasking

3. Take Illustrated Notes.

Here’s one I learned from my friend [and illustrated Instagram queen] Helen – take notes and doodle at the same time – with purpose!

I’ve started watching webinars and listening to information-filled audios with pen in hand and enough paper to scribble on for days. It’s joyous fun, good practice for my dream of drawing like a Pixar artist, and my notes are so cute I can’t help but revisit them over and over.

I’m a visual person, and I find glancing at illustrated notes SO much more effective than the usual linear format.

Having a pen in hand make me more attentive and engaged. Taking illustrated notes is a perfect complement to a focused active listening session. Much better than tuning in to a podcast on the go and stopping to tap notes on my iPod in a rush – notes that I’ll probably forget to return to!

Let me know – have you been bitten by the Multitasking bug? How do you hurry it away?

P.S. Only a few spots left for my San Francisco tea party on 11 June! Will you be joining us?

An invitation to tea