Brittany Ann Zayas

I am a Christian teacher and writer born and (mostly) raised in Brooklyn, NY. Growing up, I was allowed to read whatever I wanted and so enjoyed every genre, but especially ones that were honest and heartfelt. Being homeschooled, I was able to spend a lot of time creating sFile_000tories and art, and was obsessed with “the end” of everything, which led to an interest in dark fiction. I almost became an English major, but changed my mind at the last minute (college applications), and decided to go for history, which I realized was made up of endless stories. I graduated magna cum laude at Brooklyn College, with a double major in history and adolescent education. I now work in management of childhood and adult education, and have finally decided to give in to my inner English major, and pursue an MA in Language & Literacy at City College.

My favorite books are War & Peace by Leo Tolstoy, We the Living by Ayn Rand, and Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. I feel deeply about William Shakespeare, dystopias (before they were cool), bacon, medieval English history, and semicolons. My current writing projects are an alternate universe political mystery, a Middle Eastern-inspired epic fantasy, and a medieval fantasy romance inspired by Dutch and Indian culture.

On Instagram, I post artwork, architecture, cityscapes, poetry, and my niece as @tolstoytotinkerbell.

You can also follow along with the art group I co-founded, The Octopi Artists Guild, for monthly art challenges and inspiration : @octopiartistsguild

On Twitter, I post silliness and the occasional political diatribe as @bazayas.


Sarah V Diehl

I was homeschooled from K-12th by a mother who loves to read more than anything else. She taught me how to read, and how to love reading. In college I chose not to do an English degUntitledree, but rather graduated magna cum laude with a double BA in International Business Management and German Language and Culture Studies. I currently work as a Project Manager in educational and cultural affairs. I don’t regret my choice, but there are so many papers I never got to write and I want a reason to write them. I love multi-generational stories, old fashioned fey magic, sci-fi that makes sense, really long series, fabulism,  accurate historical fiction, and modern story collections about middle-aged people having affairs. My favorite book is Downright Dencey by Caroline Dale Snedeker. My favorite author is Anthony Trollope. I like all hot beverages, studying German, listening to movie soundtracks, watching international soccer matches, window shopping, and taking naps outside. I currently live in Queens.

I am halfway through my “Thousand Books Challenge” where I am reading 1,000 books in ten years between 2010 and 2020. You can follow that journey at @thousandbookschallenge on Instagram. You can find my German poetry in translation here.


We are posting the kind of articles we like to read: thoughtful and long enough to get a lot said. There are no GIFs and there aren’t too many images. We like words. We hope you do too.

We have two kinds of short posts. The “best of…” pieces list the best in a certain theme or genre. The “book reviews” are exactly what that sounds like and will be as spoiler-free as possible.

We have two kinds of long posts. The “literary analyses” are in-depth discussions of literature that has occupied our thoughts for a while and which we would like to share in a semi-formal way, with MLA citations included. The “personal essays” are memoir-style pieces about how we have been emotionally affected by literature in our lives.


On a weekday we have short posts in the “best of…” or “book review” categories. On weekends we have longer posts in the “literary analyses” or “personal essay” categories. We alternate on all of these, and we try to have one new guest post per month. Contact us by email (thewordafter@gmail.com) if you would like to guest post.*


We are both based in NYC, the place where it all happens, and will be posting here. We can also be found on Instagram and Facebook.


We should have been English majors. But Brittany thought history and education was best and Sarah thought she should go for business and German. We’re taking our chance now to write like the English majors we certainly became in some alternate universe.


We both love a good old bound book, but we also love technology and we are always on the go, so we are writing  and editing all this in apps like Google Docs and Evernote, and on laptops, tablets, and phones.

*Note: Guest posts must be approved by both Brittany and Sarah in advance. Revisions will usually be suggested. We welcome a variety of viewpoints, as we ourselves differ on major matters like whether Jane Austen is overrated or whether it is possible to be a Gryffinpuff or Slytherclaw, but we never want to alienate readers by pushing a particular religion or politics. We hope even when we disagree on the serious stuff, we can all be understanding and willing to accept differences.

…unless you think The Hunger Games was a romance and should have had a happy ending. Then we have problems. #itwasneveralovetriangle