Friday, September 30, 2011


The wonderful blog YAtopia is hosting a magnificent two-sentence pitch contest with literary agent Mandy Hubbard. If you have a completed YA or MG manuscript, I urge you to enter!

Why "Disturbing" is Good

In light of Banned Books Week, and also just because I feel the need to talk about it, I'd like to talk about disturbing books.

Books get banned and challenged and not-recommended for all kinds of reasons. Sexual content is a big one, so are topics like drugs and religion.

The one I'd like to talk about is violence.

"Violence," to me, can mean different things. It can mean physical fighting. It can mean angry emotional intensity. It can mean blood and gore.

Last night I finished reading The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness. It was a rip-roaring roller-coaster of a book, never slowing down for a second. The pages flew by. The plot was fantastic, the characters were fantastic.

And it disturbed me.

Oh, god, did it disturb me. There are so many things that could be disturbing about this book. Scary bad guys? It has 'em. Blood and guts? Oh yeah. Sad death scenes of characters that shall not be named? Has 'em in spades.

I'm not going to reveal exactly what it is that disturbed me, I don't want to spoil it. I'll just say that it was a scene where a character acted rashly, resulting in a death.

It wasn't a main character who died. It was the equivalent of Taxi Driver #3 being killed in a big-budget disaster movie. But somehow, the situation slid under my skin and stabbed right into the core of me.

I didn't know whether to burst into tears or slam the book shut and toss it against the wall. I didn't know whether I wanted to be violently ill or curl up in bed and sleep for days. I was paralyzed, physically and emotionally.

That scene shook something up inside me. Like the titular knife, that whole book slit me open and spilled my insides, stitching them back up after.

That is why disturbing books are good. They change you. They break your heart and put it back together. You heal from the pain, but you're different afterward. They scare you, but they teach you about yourself. Sure, maybe I wish I'd never read that scene in The Knife of Never Letting Go (it would save me a lot of heartbreak), but now I know how not to act. I learned that I could never stand to cause such intense fear and tragedy, like the character who killed did.

I know myself better now because of those disturbing book. I would recommend the experience to anybody.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

My Novel is Lonely

I haven't written a word of fiction in two weeks now. I put myself on a one-month hiatus to get refreshed, to read a lot, and to chillax a little bit.

But guys... one month is a long time.

I have to admit: I checked up on my novel.

It misses me.

I opened the document to ask how it was doing, and the characters gave me puppy-dog, please-come-play-with-us eyes. There were bloaty extra words in there that need cutting down. There is an entire plot that needs changing and delicious new scenes to write.

I don't know if I can last the whole month. But I want to last the whole month. So I'll bury my head in my TBR pile and tell my character to shhhh, I'll get to them later.


Monday, September 12, 2011

Teachers Teaching Cool Books

So this past week, school went back in. Not for me -- I'm a disillusioned university drop-out at the moment -- but for my siblings. My little brother is now in grade 11, doing an alternative program because high school didn't work out for him. My little sister, however, has just entered high school in grade 8.

Beyond this being totally mindblowing (omg my little baby sister is going to be 13 soon!!! When did this happening?!!), it's exciting. She's growing up, yay! She's also a complete brat, but that's besides the point. She's always been a brat, heh.

It's also worrying. She's attending the same high school I went to, and she has the same Phys Ed teacher I had. I'm worried because that teacher bullied me and utterly obliviated my self-esteem in grades 8 and 9, and my sister's a little chubby like I was at the time. I'm crossing my fingers that either that teacher has changed, or that my sister is a hell of a lot stronger than I was and will fight back. She's a really tough kid, so I'm hoping she'll be okay.

Today she came home from school with a huge smile on her face, brimming over with excitement to tell me something.

"OMG, Becca, guess what book we're reading for English?!?!?!"


"The Hunger Games!" she squealed. Literally squealed. "Right away I told the teacher that I've already read it and that everyone else was going to love it!"

What a little busy-body. It's so her to jump up and blab any fact that makes her look cool for already knowing something.

But it made me so happy. A teacher who teaches The Hunger Games instead of the dry and dull things some teachers choose?

I think my sister will be just fine.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Today I'm 20!

Today is my 20th birthday!


Hello books for my birthday <3

I have a lot of strange feelings about this birthday -- shedding that '1' prefix and '-teen' suffix is kind of doing me a number -- but for now I just want to enjoy it. Probably a more whiny, angsty post coming up in the near future!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Looking Back on Camp NaNoWriMo

Well, friends, I did it. I crossed the threshold of 50,000 words on August 15th, actually, but it took me until the 29th to finally type the words "The End."

The first draft of what is currently entitled THE BRIGHT FOREVER is almost 67,000 words long. Phew. I thought it was never going to end.

I think, for me, NaNoWriMo works best as "first draft in a month" rather than "50k in a month." Sure, 50k is what I aim for, but every single time I've competed, I've written solely for the purpose of getting to 50k. And then by the time I get there, the end of the story is nowhere in sight because I ignored the traditional beginning-middle-end structure. So when I hit 50k, the climax isn't even in sight. And then, upon hitting 50k, I immediately lose steam. The 16k between 50k and The End was some of the hardest stuff I've ever had to push myself to write.

But it's finished. Sort of. Actually, I had a Revision Revelation on my final day of writing, so when I start revising, most of what I wrote this month has to be scrapped.

*shoots self*

Oh well. I had fun. And it's a lot easier to start over with a finished draft than it is to start with fragments.

I'm going to take a month off from writing -- yes, a whole month. I don't think I've taken this long a break from writing since I was 10 years old. No, I don't think I can actually do it. But I really need to devote some time to reading, and to get some distance from all the projects I'm currently working on. THEN I can plunge into heavy revisions and heavy, heavy research for this stupid novel.

*dies of exhaustion*