Tuesday, September 11, 2012


I'm probably the last person alive qualified to write a blog post about 9/11. I'm Canadian. I was ten years old on September 11th, 2001, on the opposite coast from New York. The attacks had little to no effect on my everyday life, besides the effect they had on the media.

It took a long time for me to fully understand and appreciate what happened that day. The only thing I can contribute to a discussion about 9/11 is a book recommendation.

If you're like me and spent a lot of years feeling disconnected and unaffected by something a lot of people seem to really care about, read Love is the Higher Law by David Levithan. Besides being a good coming-of-age story with a fledgling romance that makes my stomach flutter, it's a truly transcendent, emotionally telepathic novel. Because of this book, I understand why 9/11 is a big deal. Read it.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Review: The Unnaturalists

I wish The Unnaturalists was as cool, clear, and well-defined as its cover is.

I was so ready to love this book the minute I read the summary. Girl scientist in a steampunk, alternate Victorian London? Soooooo sweet. I was beyond excited when I got an ARC in the mail (thanks for the heart attack, Simon & Schuster Canada!), because usually they just send me ARCs of sequels to books I haven't read and then I have to give them away.

I was still set to love it when I read the first, breathtaking sentence: "The Sphinx stares at me from her plinth." Right on the first page, Vespa Nix is in the Museum of Unnatural History, being cornered by a freaking Sphinx. You soon find out that the Sphinx is frozen in a time-warp forcefield thing and of no real danger, which is an epic mind trip. God, the first page is so cool.

But after that -- very soon after, on like the second page -- the book becomes muddled. Vespa is pushed (by a mysterious, anonymous hand) into the forcefield and she's trapped in a forcefield-like room thing where the Sphinx is ALIVE and ABLE TO HARM HER, and you're all like OH SHIT MAN WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN HOW'S SHE GOING TO ESCAPE?!?!

But... the Sphinx just kinda looks at her. And stuff. It seems like the author is going for a super-tense, omg-is-she-about-to-spring-and-attack? kind of moment, but it drags on for, like, a couple pages of description of the moment so it ceases to be tense anymore because you're pretty sure the Sphinx is still frozen, in the author's own description freeze-frame, so she can't possibly hurt Vespa anyway.

And oh, Vespa. Vespa Nix. What an awesome name. And she's a POC (maybe mixed race?) girl in the book AND on the cover, whoot! But unfortunately, not even that -- and not even her killer dress -- can save her for me. She sounds like a Valley Girl, and in a Victorian (or pseudo-Victorian) setting, it's just so, so distracting. Also, for all that they try to make her this passionate scientist, she spends all of two minutes studying science in this book. She talks on and on about how much she wants to be the first female scientist in her world, but she never even talks or thinks about her so-called passion. She's too busy fawning over her brand-new, shiny Love Interest, Pedant Lumin/Hal/Bayne/The Architect.

I hate the love interest, by the way. He honestly had four names, and he's called each of them quite a lot of times. Who is this guy?!?! He's a scientist at the museum. No, he's a secret agent for the Architects. No, he's a lord's son. He had a major identity issue; I couldn't identify him, much less swoon over him, because I never got a clear picture of him.

I should probably mention the POV of this book. Half of it is in Vespa's first-person POV. The other half is third person POV following a young (how young, though, I wasn't really sure... maybe 12 or 13?) Tinker (think gypsy) named Syrus Reed. The two stories are barely related. The POV characters see each other a handful of times and they're loosely connected in a plot kind of way, but the discrepancy between the POVs is just too big. It felt like two novels stuck roughly together. I would have greatly preferred this book to be entirely in Syrus's third person POV. But that book, if it existed, would fit much better into the middle grade world.

I dunno. This book was just muddled.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

My Bad Writing: Betrayal by Family, Part 3

When we has left Ea and Emmith, they were... hugging! Pass my smelling salts!

What happen next is more idiot romance:

Evening found the two of them in the small town of Kingston. Ea had enough gold coins to get a room at a little inn on the outskirts of town. They had a pleasant meal of bread, potato, and some cheese. There was only one small bed in the room, and Emmith said that since Ea had paid for the room, she should have the bed. But Ea said that since Emmith had rescued her, he should have the bed. 

Oh, just freaking sleep together already.

They could not settle the matter, so they shared the bed. It was moderately comfortable, and they were tightly squeezed to the sides, as it felt odd to be so close to each other. Ea fell asleep first that night, and Emmith, before he fell asleep, kissed Ea every so lightly on the forehead.

Meh, I got my wish.

But I hate this. Hate with a passion. It's that stupid old trope of chaste bedsleeping between characters who are obviously attracted to each other. Ridiculously lame.

Speaking of ridiculously lame... after buying Ea "commoner dresses" in the town...

"Emmith, last night you kissed me, didn't you?"

Emmith was suddenly quite embarrassed. 

"What? Oh, uh, yes I did," he stuttered. "Why do you ask?"

Ea smiled. "You could have just told me you liked me, you know. Not that I didn't like it." She looked at him.

Emmith was taken aback. "You -- you enjoyed it?"

Ea cocked her head and grinned. Emmith reached out for her hand and they walked back to the inn hand-in-hand.

Hahahahaha. He takes her hand and they walk hand-in-hand. L-O-fricking-L.

Then some soldiers arrive at the inn, looking for Queen Ea Mara. Ohhhhhh shit! Ea and Emmith escape to the roof while the soldiers search the inn, but not before they overhear the innkeeper telling the soldiers the names of the people staying at the inn and Ea hears him say "Emmith Greene and his wife, Eve."

So when the soldiers are gone, they continue journeying. Emmith is the strong, silent type.

They had been traveling for about an hour along a dusty road. Ea was practically crying. Emmith hadn't said a word since before the soldiers arrived at the inn, which was totally out of character for him. 

"Emmith, what's wrong? You have been ignoring me! Please, just talk to me!" she cried. 

Emmith turned to face her, his brown eyes full of hurt and confusion.

"Didn't you hear the soldiers talking to the innkeeper? They said Queen Ea Mara! Either something terrible happened to your father or he abdicated as king! You are now queen!" He was breathing heavily. "Now it's crucial that we get you to Peterberg Palace." He sat down on a log beside the road. "It was -- well -- I was hoping we could settle down together and forget your heritage."

He was close to tears. Ea sat down beside him and hugged him.

"Me too. I'm not so sure I want to be queen, now. I don't want so many people after me, hating me. I just want to be normal. And with you." She buried her face in his shoulder as he hugged her.

"I know, me too, Ea," he whispered. "Let's keep walking."

I just want to slap the two of them into next week.

The next night, they sleep in a barn. Ea goes into Emmith's backpack while he's out searching for food, because she's really good at personal boundaries, and finds his journal. Of course he keeps a journal. Of course. She reads the latest entry, which tells us absolutely nothing new. Emmith talks about the soldiers arriving at the inn, and finding out that Ea is queen. Then he sounds like a super conceited bastard as he waxes on and on about how Ea should be with him because he doesn't care about her money, unlike foreign princes or whoever else wants to marry her.

And then we get proof that Ea's head is a hollow gourd full of stale air and bits of lint.

Ea closed the journal in wonder. Did he really feel that way about her? But, then again, why did he write it if he didn't?



Monday, August 6, 2012

My Bad Writing: Betrayal by Family, Part Two

Welcome to Part Two! If you missed it, here's Part One.

When we last left Ea and Emmith, the idiotic heroine and hero of my unfortunate tale, they were running away from Ea's evil Uncle Unriché, who had planned to kill Ea... at some point. He just had dinner with her, alone. Why didn't he kill her then?


The next chapter picks up with this gem of a line:

Next morning, Ea woke to the smell of fish.

...all I want to do is *facepalm*. Serious cringe. Ahhhh, don't look at me, I'm not the same writer as the one who wrote this line!

It only gets better.

"Where am I?" she said sleepily as she looked around her. She was in a small clearing in a forest, and on the other side of the clearing Emmith sat with his back to her, crouched over a campfire.

"Oh, Princess, you're awake. I made some breakfast, if you want it," he said, blushing.

"Thank you, Emmith. And you don't need to call me princess, just Ea is good." She sat up on her bed of leaves and rubbed her eyes. "So, Emmith, where exactly are we?"

Oh god. Braided ropes. Beds of leaves. The silliness continues.

And continues:

Emmith shrugged. "I dunno, exactly, but we're about nine, possibly ten kilometers from your uncle's palace, approximately."

Sigh. Then we get the obligatory "heroine looks intently at hero and realizes he is the smexiest guy evah" paragraph.

Ea looked at him intently. He was a very good-looking boy with nearly shoulder-length curly dark brown hair framing his adorably innocent face and big brown eyes. All Ea's ladies in waiting fancied him, and he was the talk of their sewing sessions. Emmith was a young blacksmith's apprentice and he made swords for the king and his knights.

HA. Will Turner, is that you?!

And then, basically, Ea sees that he brought a sword with him and she asks "What if my uncle sends soldiers after us?" and Emmith basically says "Meh, ain't no thang" and then they eat fish for breakfast. Bleh.

Then we flash back to the palace for the best villain moment I've ever written.

Lord Unriché stood in the great hall sniggering to himself and waiting for his niece to make her appearance. 

"Captain," he shouted at a soldier.

"Yes, my lord?"

"Has the princess come down yet?"

"No, not yet, sir."

"Lazy oversleeper. Send her maid to wake her. I'm getting impatient."

"Yes, sir."

Lord Unriché chuckled. He was feeling quite happy that day. His brother and that wife of his captured by soldiers in Stevron, and their only child was to be arrested where she thought she was safe. 

"My lord, she's gone!" a young soldier approached Unriché.

"What? What do you mean, she's gone?" he spat.

"Her window was open and the bed is empty! No sign of her!"

"Are you sure? She couldn't have just disappeared! Send men into the grounds to find her! Search everywhere within a mile of here!" he shouted. His good mood was temporarily ruined.

Can't... stop... laughing.

Unriché, it's your fault. You should've just arrested her at one of the million opportunities you had earlier. Quit chuckling and sniggering to yourself and get some kidnapping done.

Okay, then the POV snaps back to Ea and Emmith, who are crouched in some bushes listening to some soldiers who randomly appeared near them. This scene is boring. They overhear a page-long argument about whether to go east or west. It's unremarkable, except for the part where "a voice shouted at a stubborn voice."

And then this happens:

Emmith smiled worriedly at Ea, who was white with fear. Then Emmith did something he had wanted to do ever since he met Ea eight years before. He pulled her close to him in a tight embrace, and to his surprise she didn't resist. She just sank into his arms, and there she stayed for minutes that seemed to be hours.

To my eleven-year-old mind, this was blush-inducing, perfect romance. A hug. Really. I kind of feel like reaching back in time and slapping myself, because to no one else is hugging a distraught person who just heard a bunch of people say that her uncle was going to murder her romantic. It's just a decent thing to do. Also, Emmith is still an idiot. And a Will Turner ripoff. And a Josh Groban wannabe.

I forget if there's a part coming up where he sings, but knowing my eleven-year-old self, I'm sure there must be.

Thank you for reading! Stay tuned for Part Three!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Discussion: Character names

Inspired by the awesome Michelle Krys's post, I started thinking about character names.

I freaking love names. They fascinate me. I keep a mental list of all the awesome real names I've heard in my lifetime (topping the list are Peter Brilliant, Manley Gage, and Carla Holy).

I don't know if you could get away with a Peter Brilliant, Manley Gage, or a Carla Holy in a novel. Sometimes real life is stranger than fiction. With character names, I find you have to strike a balance between distinctive and ordinary most of the time. The name has to suit the character to some extent. Not always literally -- don't name a wise character Sophia just because Sophia means wise -- but you have to take the character's parentage and circumstance in life into account when you name them.

For example, the bride of a Medieval king is unlikely to be named Destiny. But a girl born in the mid-nineties? That works. A girl with Buddhist parents being named Mary Catherine? Yeah, probably not. But if she was born into a Catholic family, it makes a lot more sense.

In the early stages of writing, a character feels nebulous to me until I find the perfect name. Once I do, everything comes together. Their personalities often come from their names, in some strange way. Here's a quick sample of this at work in my writing:

Tristan Tennant (protagonist of A BRAVER THING): Tristan is a soft, lilting kind of name, which is definitely how I'd describe Tristan's personality. His nickname is the androgynous Tris, which fits his appearance. His surname, Tennant, is a nod to his Anglophilia -- David Tennant, anyone?

Prince Malcolm (A BRAVER THING): He's the Prince of Wales, so his lack of a surname fits his station in life. He has a bazillion middle names, though, which comes from his royal heritage, too. But his first name, Malcolm, is very unorthodox -- it's Scottish, which is a little bit scandalous for a British prince. But Malcolm himself is a little bit scandalous.

Lauren Alfredsson (protagonist of a new WIP, WONDERFUL): The name Lauren has always conjured up a tall, solidly-built blonde girl to me, so her physical appearance is tied to her first name. One of her parents is from Sweden, which accounts for her surname. Plus I just love the way the name rolls off the tongue... which is handy, since this WIP is written in third person instead of first, so I have to use it a lot more!

So, yeah, I'm curious: if you're a writer, where do your character names come from? How do you pick them? Do they matter a lot to you, or is it more like, if it fits, it fits? If you're a reader, how do you feel about the names of characters you read? Do they matter to you?

Hope you're all having a lovely summer out there! Anyone watching the Olympics? (I am. Rather obsessively.)

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

My Bad Writing: Betrayal by Family, Part One

Oh, God, just looking at that title makes me wince. Betrayal by Family... what was I thinking...

Well, I can pretty much tell you exactly what I was thinking. I was eleven years old. I bored as hell. And judging by the content of this fifty-page story (27 smudged, torn notebook pages, front and back), I was boy-crazy and full of gooey romantic ambitions.

The Story

Betrayal by Family follows the life of a young princess named Ea Mara. Yeah. Her name is Ea. Pronounced Eee. I deserve to be shot for that name alone.

Anyway, the story opens with this line, written in bubbly cursive:

Princess Ea Mara sat in the carriage, not exactly thrilled with her parents for making her go 'there'.

Y'know what, it's not an awful opening line. It's bad, but it isn't super cringe-worthy. If I were allowing myself to rewrite, I would change it to "Ea sat in the carriage, not exactly thrilled that her parents made her go there." But I'm not allowed to rewrite. I have to relive this without making it easy for myself.

"There" is her Uncle Unriché's palace (oh, FML... Unriché should NOT be a name that exists). I go into a tell-don't-show spree as I explain absolutely everything you need to know about Unriché throughout the entire story:

Ea never liked her uncle Unriché. He was rather sly and cold. His gray eyes always glinted with malice, and he was never very kind. But she had to stay with him in his large and unwelcoming palace. Just until her parents could come and take her home.

Yep, I know what you're thinking: I wonder if this Unriché fellow could be the villain?!?! Well, I won't spoiler it for you. You'll find out soon enough.

And, wow. Disappearing Parent Syndrome. Of course. I was eleven. Parents were the devil.

The footman opened the carriage door and Ea looked out at Uncle Unriché's palace. Large and gray, the palace sat alone on a giant hill. 

"Thank you, Jeeves," she said to the driver. 

"Your highness," he said gruffly. 

Ea stepped onto the walkway up to the palace as the carriage pulled away. Her uncle walked up to her with a few soldiers behind him.

Jeeves? Jeeves? Seriously?

Also, "her uncle walked up to her with a few soldiers behind him." Lol forever. 

Anyway, Unriché says some stuff in an "oily voice" and then he leads Ea up to the palace. I'm actually really surprised I didn't take this all the way up into Ea's bedroom and describe every last detail of her bed and pillows and wardrobe. I'm impressed.

But I had more important things to describe. Like the love interest.

In the bushes outside the palace, Princess Ea Mara's only hope hid. Ea's father's swordcrafter, a 17-year-old young man named Emmith had heard of a plan being plotted by Lord Unriché. He knew right away he had to save Ea before it was too late. He brushed away his curly brown hair and looked up at Ea's window. It took all of his effort to control himself from screaming up to her, telling her the plot. But he didn't. His only hope of taking her with him was if he whisked her off at night. He wasn't quite sure what he would do, where he would take Ea once he had her. But that didn't matter yet. He sat in a tree braiding and tying rope to make a rope ladder that he would use to climb to Ea's window that night.





Oh my God, I wish I was joking. I wish I had never written this paragraph. Braiding... and tying... rope. WTF?! If the rope is, in fact, rope, it would already be serviceable in its ropey form. Why must it be braided, Emmith? Why?! Why are you sitting in a tree, brushing your curly brown hair and braiding what I can only picture as long chunks of stringy hemp in order to fashion your dashing method of escape? If speed is so important, why didn't you bring a pre-made rope ladder? Or just a ladder? Why in the name of God are you braiding your own rope?!!??!

*deep breath*

Okay... so, meanwhile, Ea goes to dinner with "her hair perched on top of her head in an elegant bun," in an "unappealing dove gray dress that she hated" (for some undisclosed reason). At dinner, "the food was good, but the company was terrible. Unriché just ate, smoked his pipe, and stared into the fire." 

And then it becomes a bodice ripper.

Well, not really. But Ea goes up to her room after dinner and the instant she's alone, she "ripped off her dress and crossed the road to her bed in her petticoat" -- crossed the road? -- "only to look up and realize she wasn't alone in her room."

That's right! Everyone's favourite rope-braider is sitting on her bed!

Now I'll treat you to a choice excerpt, demonstrating my fabulous dialogue-writing skills.

When she saw Emmith sitting on her bed, she jumped with surprise.

"Emmith! What -- what are you...?" she stuttered. Emmith cut her off.

"Quick, Ea, pack your things and come with me! Your uncle means you harm! We must leave..." he blurted out, crossing the room to the princess.

"Emmith, tell me why we must leave! Please!" Ea cried.

Emmith sighed. "All right, but you have to believe me, okay?"

Ea nodded.

"When you go down to the great hall for breakfast in the morning, your uncle will put you under arrest! Your parents have been captured in the north, on their way to Stevron. I decided to come and save you, because I was the only one with courage enough to do so," he sighed. "And also I wanted to -- to -- to," he looked at his feet. "Oh, I'll tell you later. We have to go." He gathered up the rope ladder, secured it and turned to Ea. "Do you need help to get down?"

"That would help," she said, stunned. "You may help me, yes." 

He helped her onto the rope ladder and held her waist as he climbed down. After they were safely on the ground two stories from the window, Emmith cut the rope ladder down, and the two of them disappeared into the night.

My God. What to pick on first? The idiot rope ladder, which would be a thousand times slower than if Emmith just broke into the palace? The constant use of names in the dialogue? The exclamation points? The use of "he sighed," even though exclamation points previously pointed out that they were excited and, well, not sighing? 

I'm not going to lie. I just burst out laughing at so much of this scene. And as I leafed through the pages and read some lyrics doodled in the margins, I remembered that I pictured Emmith as Josh Groban. 

"Why would I braid my own rope ladder when 
there were perfectly reasonable alternatives?
You wrote me as a moron, Becca."

Sorry, Josh. I did it out of love. 

Stay tuned for part two! Lots more idiocy to come!

Monday, July 30, 2012

First draft done... now reading hibernation!

I just typed my favourite two words into the end of my WIP's document:


It's not really the end, of course. According to my usual way of writing, this thing needs MASSIVE overhauls. But that's for another day. For the next two weeks at least, I'm going to read, read, read. No writing, just getting back to my roots. Every writer is a reader first. I need time to remind myself of that. 

Also, I'm in danger of being crushed by my TBR pile.

My Bad Writing

Every writer has stories they wish they'd never written. Stories so silly, so ridiculous, so embarrassing that they would forever tarnish the writer's reputation if they were made public. You know deep down inside that these stories were important to your development as a writer, and maybe you have good memories of writing them, but you know... they're bad. They're just bad.

I'm no exception. I have utterly, completely ridiculous pieces in my dark writing past. Fanfiction, poetry, original stories... I've got it all.

And, in an effort to not feel quite so stupid about it, I've decided to share it with the world.

Well, not all of it. Most of my bad writing has gone to the great paper shredder in the sky (i.e., my computer crashed or I stupidly deleted it, thinking I'd never want to read this crap). But I do have a great deal of it, and I thought it might be a fun blog project to share some of it and write snark-tastic reviews of my own stuff. Feel free to laugh at my ridiculousness -- I'll be joining you.

Stay tuned for the first instalment, coming soon!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Querying frustration and perspective

Sorry for the radio silence lately. Summer is the most crazy, intense, ridiculous, busy period at my day job, so I've been feeling kind of swamped in that arena. I'm also busy reading a lot, writing a brand new WIP, and planning my trip to London (60 days until take-off!).

Also I'm querying right now.

This being the second manuscript I've dug deep into the query trenches with, I came into it with some preconceived notions of what the experience might be like. Last time, summer-fall of 2010 and a little of 2011, I got fewer than five form rejections in total. I got many, many full requests and quite a handful of partials. I had an R&R that was a very close call. I eventually stopped querying because I lost faith in the manuscript and it felt like a full connection was never going to happen.

Fast forward to summer 2012 and a brand new manuscript that I'm absolutely in love with. Enter the gorgeous, snappy, much-fawned-over-in-QLH query letter. I've got a high-concept, super-original premise (if I do say so myself). I was expecting the same kind of reception as my last MS.

But... so the opposite.

Two requests out of twenty queries sent. It feels kind of like a punch in the gut.

I don't want to complain, because I realize there are people who send hundreds of queries and never get a single request ever. I'm so, so grateful for any amount of success I ever get. But it just goes to show that you can't expect instant success, and sometimes that realization is tough.

There are a couple things going on in my brain right now.

Thing 1: "*whine* Why don't they like this one? It's sooooooo commerical and hook-y and omg, if I saw a book in a bookstore with this premise I would just, like, DIE!"

Thing 2: "I should just give up and crawl into a hole right now."

Thing 3: *cranks the Alanis Morrissette and sings bitter unrequited love songs to the publishing industry at large*

And as embarrassing as those things are, I know they're irrational. I know everyone feels like that every once in a while, and even if I were to snag an amazing agent and book deal, I would still feel those things sometimes. In this industry, those feelings are inevitable.

And after I've felt all the things and finished slapping myself for being so silly, I start to think about it rationally. Sure, maybe my first month-and-a-half of querying hasn't been mind-blowingly awesome, some awesome things have come of it.

1) Four agents remembered me from my past manuscript (and one of them read only a partial almost two years ago) and were happy to hear from me and enthusiastic enough to invite me to query them again in the future.

2) I've gotten replies from every query. In just a little over a month. That's amazing.

3) The two agents who have requested so far are AWESOME and I'm beyond honoured that they want to read my stuff. I would be ecstatic if either of them offered rep.

So, author wankfest over. I'm going to put my nose to the grindstone and keep on querying. And keep writing.

Always, always keep writing.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Discussion: Finishing books you don't like

I've seen a lot of people on Goodreads and elsewhere mention that they have unbreakable compulsions that require them to finish every single book they start.

This boggles my mind. I have no problem DNFing a book I'm not enjoying. If it's not wowing me at the halfway point, the last half probably won't wow me, either. I move on until I find something I love.

How about you guys? Do you force yourself to read till "The End," even if it kills you? Or do you give up when you're feeling your eyes start to glaze over?

Tuesday, July 3, 2012


Remember my Wanderlove review where I talked about how much I yearned to travel again?

Well. Guess what I booked?

A ten-day trip to London with my Mommy for September!

:D :D :D

A big part of the reason I'm going is to research some of my work (A BRAVER THING, which I'm currently querying, and my new untitled WIP, which includes some England settings as well), and also just to satisfy my travel itch and hey, London is a cool place. Mom (a very nervous traveller) feels better about going there than going to France, where we originally wanted to go, because at least then she can speak the language.

ANYWAY! I'm just so excited. You can count on a big post all about it (with many pictures!) in approximately three months ;)

Now I'm off to go listen to "London Calling" on repeat...

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Review: Wentworth Hall

Wentworth Hall on Goodreads

Have you heard of a little show called Downton Abbey?

Okay, well, here's a confession: I want to marry Downton Abbey.

Seriously. I can't think of a single TV show, past or present, that has such attention to historical and aesthetic detail, and such an engrossing, compelling story, and such fabulous characters.

The characters are the real draw to Downton Abbey. The haughty, proud Lady Mary, heart-throbby Matthew, noble and kindly Mr. Bates, and my personal favourite, the dastardly evil Thomas... even the lesser characters are fully realized and make you care about them so much. I've actually had sleepless nights over the fates of some of these fictional people. Not even mere "oh, I wonder what's going to happen." No, by "sleepless night," I mean actual tossing, turning, and incessant worrying about whether or not they're going to be okay.

Words can't describe, okay? Really. Truly. It beats me why I so enjoy having my heart ripped to shreds by this damn TV show, but I love it. 

So, that's the background of Wentworth Hall. There's no beating around the bush: this book was written to piggyback off the success of Downton Abbey. I'm almost 100% sure that this book was done by a packager, and I don't know if Abby Grahame is a real person. If you look on the copyright page, this book's copyright belongs to Simon & Schuster -- copyrights always belong to the author unless it's work-for-hire, so. 

I knew about this book and wanted to read it even before I ever watched the entire first season of Downton in two days, though. Just look at that gorgeous cover. You KNOW there's something going on between those characters, and you've just GOT to find out, don't you?

Here's my advice: resist. This book is nowhere CLOSE to the depth and beauty that is Downton Abbey. If Downton Abbey is the ocean, Wentworth Hall is a puddle. You could finish this book in under an hour, easily (it took me a few days but I'm busy and not a fast reader these days anyway). The dialogue is wooden. The characters, while a couple approach two dimensions, never once feel like real people. There are historical errors that even I, someone who only knows about this period and setting through Downton Abbey, could spot a mile away. The butler is called "the head butler" at one point -- um, there's only one butler per household, so the title of "head butler" does not exist. The family's last name is Darlington, and the father is referred to as Lord Darlington. But that's not the way titles work. Using Downton Abbey as an example... the Earl's family's surname is Crawley, but their title is Grantham. Therefore, they're referred to as Lord Grantham, Lady Grantham, etc. The family in Wentworth Hall has a title, but what is it? I dunno. They're always called by their last name.

There are a couple decent twists in here, but they would mean so much more if the characters were deeper and we felt like they were real people rather than cardboard cutouts. If some of the twists were on Downton Abbey, they would have my heart pounding and they would make me gasp at the reveal. But here, my eyebrows barely raised. 

I guess what makes me mad about this book is the sheer wasted potential. So, so much of a waste. A YA Downton Abbey, done to its full potential, would be FABULOUS. Hey, maybe I should write it...

The other thing that made me mad -- but also made me laugh out loud -- was the typos. There were two in particular that actually made tears come from my eyes they were so bad. I would quote them directly but I can't remember what pages and can't be bothered to check.

1) Someone "nooded" hello to someone else.

2) There's a discussion about a secret a certain character is keeping about who the father of a certain baby is, and one character asks, "Who is it?" and the other replies, "She's liked a locked safe!"

BAHAHAHAHAHA. Be careful of typos: because you're only one letter away from making it sound like your main character had sexual intercourse with a locked safe.

In conclusion, I can't recommend this. Watch Downton Abbey and have your heart ripped out (in the most pleasant, perfect way)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

No more books for me!

As of today, I am on a self-imposed book buying ban.

That's it. No more.

I sink wayyyy too much money into my every-growing TBR stack. Seriously, it's like a disease. And since the pace of my reading has slowed to a trickle during my revision stages, I'm putting a stop to this.

I need to save up for England. I don't want books eating up that money. All the shiny new books I want (Second Chance Summer, In Honor, oh how I want you...) will still be around when I'm back from my trip and rolling in the cash again.

Help me stay strong, dear blog readers! I'll need all the encouragement I can get!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Review: Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard

I won't even bother posting cover images in my reviews anymore. I'm just so lazy. I always think I should, but the thought of even trying to obtain a properly sized image and format it correctly... just makes me want to go to bed. Mentally exhausting. So my reviews from this point on will just be thoughts spewed out onto my keyboard, and if you don't like it, well, I'll link to Goodreads so you can see the pretty pictures.

I read and really enjoyed Kirsten Hubbard's debut novel, Like Mandarin, so I knew she could craft a great story and a beyond-amazing setting going into Wanderlove. I anticipated that I'd like Wanderlove a lot for those reasons.

And hot damn, I was right. But I didn't quite anticipate what this book would do to me.

So our protagonist is Bria Sandoval. She just graduated from high school and just broke up with a controlling boyfriend who didn't deserve her at all and why the heck couldn't she see that, come on Bria, you're way too good for him and gahhhh.

I effing loved Bria. I don't say this often about YA protagonists. I've been known to get hives at any inkling of angst from a Too Stupid To Live heroine, which are all too common in this little book community. Bria is the oppose of TSTL. Even when she annoyed me, like in her memories of her idiot boyfriend, she wasn't being stupid. She was being real.

That's what I didn't anticipate about this book. How it would remind me of myself in so, so many different ways.

This book is about traveling. Backpacking in Central America, to be precise, which is not a place I've ever dreamed of going. Hot, sticky, tropical climates and hot, sticky, dirty backroad methods of travel are definitely not my thing. But it doesn't matter, because Wanderlove really did awaken wanderlove in me.

When I was fourteen, I got the chance to go to France with my French Immersion school. I leapt at the chance, got a job, and worked for a year to pay for the ten-day trip myself, no help from Mommy and Daddy. Five years ago this month, I went, had a fabulous time, and returned with my appetite whetted, ready to jet off again the next chance I got.

My family isn't big on traveling. We do road trips -- I've been all over most of my province squashed in a car with my brother and sister -- but I had never even been on a plane before my France trip. The chance for me to go somewhere else hasn't come yet, even five years later. Soon. I've scraping my pennies together to go to England, but then my car broke down and I had to buy a new one and some health-related stuff happened in my family and it's been one delay after another for the past year and it's looking like maybe I can go in September. It's feeling really far away, like it might never happen.

And that's what Wanderlove reminded me: that I want it so, so bad. I want to get out of here, go somewhere different, learn new things and see beauty. I was starting to forget that, in the wake of financial trouble and delays and things getting in my way. I had almost forgotten that the enormous desire to just go is all I really need. As long as I have that, I'll find a way.

So, yeah. My review of Wanderlove is actually a ramble about my own sad little life. Ah, well. That's the mark of a good book. I was too wrapped up in what it was making me feel and what it was giving to me that nothing else mattered. It's a great story. Great writing. Kirsten's illustrations are gorgeous (although I wish there were a lot more of them), and even though Central America never really appealed to me before, I keep finding myself Googling pictures of the locales in the book and sighing, thinking "maybe, someday."

In short, it's really good. You should read it. Escape inside it's pages and then work towards Bria's journey of discovery yourself, one day.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

So this NYT article made me have feelings

And thoughts. So many feelings and thoughts.

Maureen Johnson wrote a great blog post about this a while back, so my own feels kind of useless, but I just can't pass up the opportunity to say some things.

Okay. So. This is the article. You should read it; I promise it's interesting.


...did you read it?

Okay, well, I was a child who wrote novels. I was thirteen when I wrote my first one, and I did that thing the whole publishing industry is kind of figuring out right now -- I wrote a fanfiction and then switched the names and called it original fiction. I laugh about it now, but at the time I was proud as fucking punch and dead set on getting it published.

But I didn't.

Thank GOD I didn't. I don't have any of the novel anymore, and I wish I did because it was so awful it would be great for comedic value, but it was bad. Seriously, seriously bad. And luckily, not too long after I wrote it, I realized that. I put it away and started something else.

Rinse and repeat. I wrote a novel. I'd look at it again, decide it wasn't going anywhere, start something new.

Until I was eighteen, I never queried. And I'm so glad I didn't. I saved myself a lot of angst.

I also didn't self-publish.

And I'm infinitely glad I didn't self-publish.

If I, or my parents, had decided to self-publish my first awful novel, I doubt I would be the writer I am today. Sure, maybe I would have been proud and excited and felt like a rockstar for a couple weeks, but right now I would be pretty damn mortified. 

I probably wouldn't have continued writing.

When you take an unfinished product -- it feels awful, calling a kid's first novel a 'product' -- and you put it into "real book" form, you're validating it. You're putting it on a pedestal and calling it an achievement. Of course, finishing a novel is an achievement at any age. But it's not just about finishing a novel. It's about the journey, and this phenomenon of parents paying to self-publish their kids' books cuts that journey off. It moves the end point up and deprives the young writer of all the growth they could gain.

Publication is the end point for a lot of writers' journeys. Outside validation of our work -- it's what we're all in pursuit of. But if you take Little Timmy's book and say "yes, Timmy, good job, you are truly an accomplished novelist," Timmy is just going to feel good about himself for a few seconds and move on.

He's not going to have anything else to work for. He's going to feel like he's been there, accomplished that. He's not going to grow as a writer.

I understand why parents would want to reward their children. I understand why parents do this. But I can't help but think it's too much. It's coddling, and it's not going to be good for the kids in the long run. 

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Random update & a music rec

Whoa, Blogger... change everything since my last post, why don't you... so confused. I hate when websites change their looks/interfaces/almost everything. It's so disorienting. It makes me feel like an ancient thing.

Anyway. I have a few reviews in the pipeline, and a few post ideas, so I guess stay tuned for those. Mostly I'm just working a lot (got this promotion at work back in January and still kind of adjusting to it) and writing a bit. Working on a first draft again. That's weird.

I mentioned it in a post a little while ago, but this new book is a big departure for me. Well, not really, since it's still YA, but this one has a magical realism twist similar to Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver. If I had to pick two things to compare it to, I'd say it's like Francesca Lia Block wrote a mash-up of Before I Fall and It's A Wonderful Life. I love it so far, but it's a challenge. It's kind of coming out slow, which I have to remind myself is okay.

Aside from writing, Kate Miller-Heidke is ruling my life these days. I discovered her last album about a year and a half ago, and her new album, Nightflight, just came out and it is frickin' amazing, guys. It's the first album in a while I've been able to immerse myself in completely. It just... works. As an album, as a story, as an experience, it all just comes together. I love that, when an album is an album, a cohesive whole.

Anyway, I'm going to stop rambling and leave you with the title track from Kate Miller-Heidke's new album :) see you soon.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Getting it wrong the first time

So you're writing your new WIP. The first draft is going great. You're loving your characters, you're making your own head spin with the sheer awesomeness of your plot... and then you get to the end. And you heave a big sigh and congratulate yourself.

And then, sometime later -- whether that day, or that week, or whenever you pull your manuscript out and kickstart your revisions -- you realize you got. It. All. Wrong.


You completely misunderstood your own intentions with this novel. Your plot zigged when it clearly should have zagged. Your MC's best friend randomly acts like a douche when that's the complete opposite of how they should be acting.

You ask yourself, "How the bloody hell did I not notice how wrong this all is?!"

I do this almost every single book I write. First drafts, as they say, really are shit. My first drafts always get it wrong. My character arcs are so muddled and confused and when I start revising, I almost laugh at how wonky everything is.

Revisions, to me, are really re-visions. Focusing all the messiness from my first-draft delirium. Fine-tuning all the slightly-off characters. Sometimes rewriting entire plots after they make absolutely zero sense.

My current WIP only shares about 20% of the content from the original draft I wrote back in August. At first, it was just a book about a boy who falls in love with the prince. It was cute and stuff, but it was lacking immediacy. Lacking danger. No stakes.

In my revision, I killed off the prince's dad and suddenly, my male MC's male love interest was the frigging king. Um, hello stakes!

I had the story so completely wrong. I don't even know what I was thinking, back in August.

Whoever said that writerly cliché -- "Writing is rewriting" -- they were so right.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Pointless Rant: YA Love Interests

When I was typing that title, at first I typed Pantless Rants. Let me assure you, I am most definitely wearing pants.

So, ahem.

YA love interests.

If you know me in real life (I think that's maybe one of you) or, more likely, you've encountered me on Goodreads or AW, you might've heard a tiny complaint or two from me about YA love interests (hereby referred to as LIs).

I feel like my feelings on the matter have to bubble over into a big ranty blog post.

Let's face it: most YA novels have romance. Because most teen girls love it or at least like it, and the YA readership is almost entirely made up of girls. I love YA novels that focus on things besides romance, but I do love me a good romance, too.

Heard my unrelenting, unabashedly loud declarations of love for Anna and the French Kiss yet? *cough*

But lately, in reading YA romances, I've been getting feelings of déjà vue. I see the same LI over and over and over again and I'm like, "I've vue-d this, déjà."

Tall. Dark. Smirking. Smart-aleky. Pouty-lipped. Dreamy-eyed. Mysterious past. Probably the desire of every other girl in the school, but only has eyes for our MC.


I'm seriously getting sick of this.

When you were in high school, or if you are currently in high school... if you've ever had a crush on a teenage boy yourself... have you ever seen one like this? And if you have, and if you're the bookish, quiet girl all these MCs seem to be, did he only ever have eyes for you?

No. Those boys? They're usually douchebags.

Bad boys are sort of delicious. I mean, who doesn't swoon a little at the defiance of authority? I've been known to, occasionally. But... in real life, those guys our nerdy little MC girls fall for, they're bad news. I've fallen for them. They will break your heart and then hook up with their bad girl counterparts, who then proceed to mock you every day at school.

Can we please get some realistic guys in YA? Please?

Why can't the swoon-factor come from a guy's freckles instead of his biceps or abs? Why can't the moment of falling in love come from Mr Average giving you his last Tic Tac instead of gazing into smouldering eyes in a model-like pouty face?

Y'know that saying "nice guys finish last"? Why don't we change that? Why don't mean, badass, unattainably distant guys who ignore girls finish last, and harmlessly sweet funny guys start finishing first?

And I'm not going to ignore the other side of the coin here. As far as female LIs go, we've got the Manic Pixie Dream Girl. Instead of being cold and distant, our MPDG is warm and welcoming and kind of too forward and on the surface, she seems a little crazy. She probably harbours some dark secrets, just like the male LI, but on the surface she's gleeful and adventurous and quirky beyond belief.

I've been the MPDG. I showed a little bit of personality around a certain guy, and he latched onto me. Seemed to think the world of me. It made me feel a little drunk at first. I unleashed every crazy impulse I'd ever had. We stayed out all night, drove to every school playground in the town and sat on swings and talked about life. Then we drove to the top of a waterfall and threw rocks two hundred feet down and talked about even more deep stuff. I felt like the coolest person ever.

But I wasn't being myself. I was being the person he thought I was. I dressed my personality up to impress him. And he got bored. And we both got hurt when the relationship burned out after two weeks.

One MPDG character is original, but when she becomes this character type, it becomes too easy to fit people into that box. Same with Mr Douchebag LI. They become tropes, cardboard cutouts with no real personality. And when they start to crop up all over the place, it's a symptom of laziness.

I try every day not to be a lazy writer. If I catch myself writing what's easy -- turning a character into a recognizable "type" -- I stop. I look at what I've done. And I turn it on its head.

I want a character. Not a character type.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Blogger's block. And hockey.

I don't really know what to do here anymore.

I've been kind of MIA from the blog lately. I don't know, something inside me just kinda dried up. I have a couple ideas for posts, but it seems like the world of YA blogs has just gotten so fancy and I feel like I'll be left in the dust for keeping it simple, y'know? I don't do flashy pictures (I actually find it very tiresome to add pictures to my blog posts and avoid it at all costs), I don't do detailed reviews listing all the book info and links and all that fancy stuff everyone else seems to do.

I want to keep it real here. I want this blog to be a treasure trove of randomosity, but at at the same time, sometimes when I'm writing posts or brainstorming I think to myself, "Who do you think you are? Who would want to read this? You're nobody."

Am I wrong?

But then, nobody is forced to read my blog shit. Really I shouldn't care what I post, because it is mine, after all. Right?

: /

Anyway, it's Stanley Cup playoff time. Canucks are down two games in the series agains the L.A. Kings, which makes me annoyed because we're so much better than the Kings almost all the time but come playoff time, we fall apart? What? Game 3 starts right now, and I'm hiding away in my room instead of joining the family to watch it. Hockey love hurts. I don't want to see them lose. I think I'll join in mid-first period, to take the anxiety off. The opening minutes hurt sometimes.

I love hockey. That thought just occurred to me. I've kind of entertained the thought (very, very quietly in the back of my mind) of starting a hockey blog, but then, I'm not an expert commentator and all I can really offer is one girl's opinion. But then, what's the matter with that, right? And who cares about audience? I could write hockey rants to my heart's content, just for me.

Also I'm entertaining the thought of writing a YA novel that takes place in the NHL world. Again, thoughts of who would want to read that? keep coming at me.

I guess, what I'm trying to tell you (and myself) is not to worry about what other people think.

Yeah. That.

I guess.

go canucks go!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Review: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer

This book is nothing special. You'd think, from all the hype leading up to its release, that it was groundbreaking. Thrilling. Mysterious and tightly-plotted and exhilarating like the jacket copy. You would be wrong.

Why do I constantly get pulled in by the hype? I've been bitten so many times that by now I should learn to adapt my expectations and stop being so "omg have to buy all the new books rite naaoooo." I'm getting better. I think. But the Mara Dyer hype bug bit me so hard and now here I am, months later, still scratching at the itchy bite it left behind.

I'll start with the good, because there are some things I liked here.

The cliffhanger chapter endings

They really made me want to read more more more. If there's one thing to learn from this book, it's how to hook a reader into turning each page. I finished the book pretty quickly and never felt like the story dragged.

Mara was an okay protagonist

I remember chuckling at some of her jokes. I thought she was fairly spunky, and downright dynamic compared to the Bella Swans of the world. But spunkiness doesn't excuse her from some of her graver transgressions, as I'll talk about.

The cover is pretty

Because, let's face it, we all read this book because of that cover. More on this later too.

So, that's basically it. A handful of good things. Now, the not-so-good...

A certain misogynist doucheshit named Mr. Noah Shaw makes everything turn to shit

Mara was spunky on her own, but once Noah makes an appearance on the page, it's ALL ABOUT HIM AND YOU NEVER HEAR ABOUT ANYTHING ELSE.

I'm okay with romance. I write a great deal of swooning over dreamy love interests, myself. But this character is not real! He is the biggest cardboard cutout I've ever read in my entire reading life.

If you're anywhere from a novice to halfway decent writer, or an avid reader, you can probably craft an okay character, or at least conceptualize what makes a good one.

Flaws. Realistic traits. A believable, sympathetic backstory. Believable physical description. A certain pinch of magic to make it all jive and come together as the soul of a person in your mind.

Now, let's list some points about Noah Shaw and discuss.

-- He's rich.

Okay, I've written rich characters before. I've read about plenty. Sometimes you have to work a little harder to make people who seem like they have it all seem real and actually like people you'd want to know. Noah Shaw? Arrogant douche. He's the kind of rich we all hate. He peels a couple thousand dollars off a wad of cash in his wallet at one point in the story and acts as though it's nothing. He lives in a palatial mansion and gives no real acknowledgement that this isn't normal, or that he's lucky, or anything. His wealth could easily be used as a tool to characterize him. He could come from a long line of hardy people who worked like dogs for their money. He could be a spoiled rich boy trying to transcend his privileged background and do good for the world. A million other options. But Noah Shaw is just rich for the sake of swooniness. His wealth isn't used to say something about him, it's simply a reason for female readers to fawn.

-- He's arrogant.

How do you think someone with his head stuck so far up his ass would be treated in the real world? I'm going to let you in on a secret: my best friend is kind of a douche. He's pretty arrogant, seems to think he understands everything about everybody, and assumes things all the time about people he doesn't know. It infuriates and embarrasses me sometimes. And when he vocalizes how damn arrogant he is, people don't like it. His boldness drives a lot of people away. So why is Noah Shaw so universally liked?

This is more a comment on the douchey love interests in YA in general, but seriously. In real life, when people act like jerks, like "bad boy" love interests do with the drippy female MCs, it doesn't make you want to sleep with them. It makes you want to go stabby-stabby.

-- He's British.

Oh, this is the worst one.

I'm not going to mention Jamie, Mara's token bisexual-black-Jewish-adopted friend (his existence just insults me), because it's been talked about by better reviewers. But something that isn't talked about as much is Noah Shaw's British accent, even though it's the same kind of tokenism at work.

Noah suffers from a condition running a little rampant in YA... BFNRS, or British For No Reason Syndrome.

This book takes place in Florida. All the characters are American and the story has no ties, whether literal or thematic, to England. SO WHY IN GOD'S NAME IS NOAH BRITISH?!?!?!

Same thing as his wealth: swoon factor.

GOD! This irritates me to no fucking end.

...what was I talking about again?

The story sucks.

What the hell actually happened in this book? Some mysterious stuff happened to Mara, then she met Noah and there was much sexual chemistry, then a bunch of romantic shit happened interspersed with some mysterious bullshit... something about voodoo... some random crocodiles... someone got kidnapped (wtf was that, seriously)... and then lame-as-shit cliffhanger that didn't make any sense?

The main reason this book pisses me off is that it's bloated.

Noah's Britishness.

The crocodile part.

The kidnapping, which I barely remember because it was so random.

The voodoo part.

Most of the stuff with the dog.

All of these things could be sliced right off the manuscript without any damage to the actual story. I felt like this book was a lump of half-plots that didn't really connect to form a whole, complete arc. I'm just left shaking my head and asking how the heck this got published.

Let's play a game!

I challenge you to come up with a story that would suit that gorgeous cover. I bet you almost anything it would be better than this one.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Trying Something New

So I finished the revisions of the book that was untitled which now has a title -- A BRAVER THING -- and it is now out to betas. I intended to give myself a long break from writing because I'm way behind on my reading and really sucking at finishing books. The last book I finished was back in January. JANUARY! Since then I've started, put down, started, put down, and just generally been slow. I hate that feeling, since I love reading almost more than anything.

But, of course, just when I don't really want to write, an idea burns up my mind and refuses to let me forget about it.

This Shiny New Idea has been plaguing me since early November, when I thought of it five days into NaNo, when it was too late to switch ideas. And now that I'm not currently engaged to another book, it's screaming write me, write me! You've been planning characters and scenes out in your head for four months now and I'm literally too hot to handle so you just have to write me! I promise I'll be beautiful and powerful and oh so enticing to the publishing industry! Come on, just start me, I'll practically write myself!

It's so seductive.

I'm so, so excited to start it. But... it's screaming to be written in third person. Which I haven't written since I was thirteen.

Part of me is scared of leaving behind my first person default, but part of me is so desperate for some change in voice. Lately I've felt like I'm writing the same thing over and over. Change could be an awesome, amazing thing right now.

Oh, what the hell am I so worried about? I'm just going to go start the damn book! :)

Monday, March 5, 2012

The Summary For Every Paranormal YA Ever

So I've been dicking around on Goodreads for the past million hours, reading reviews and summaries and dissecting every little thing (you know, as one does) and it occurred to me that most publisher-provided book summaries sound exactly alike. There are stock phrases used in a lot of blurbs that you would probably recognize -- "dark secrets," "enigmatic strangers," "...will never be the same," etc. Even blurb construction from summary to summary is similar, and once you've been reading them for long enough, they all sound very much alike.

YA Paranormal Romance is probably the worst genre for this blurb-alike phenomenon. I swear, some days I feel so jaded that I could look at a cover and title and come up with a generic YA blurb and it probably wouldn't be that far off from the real summary. So, feeling particularly jaded and bitter today, I started to copy and paste quotes and phrases from various YA paranormal blurbs and cobbled them together into a master generic blurb. Then I amped up the silliness because, let's face it, it's just more fun when parodies are over-the-top.

So here's my Summary For Every Paranormal YA Ever. It's all in good fun, but there's a grain of edumacational goodness here, too: writers? Don't write stories like this. They are tired. Let's please write original stories. I will probably tackle other genres with generic blurbs, too, because it's fun and I'm procrastinating, as always.

Here it is!

After the tragic death of Girl’s parents, Girl hears voices and has visions. On the night of her seventeenth birthday, she meets two enigmatic strangers. Boy McNextdoor is all-American and fun, but she is instantly drawn to darkly handsome Dark McHandsome, who reveals that she's a reincarnated goddess and that he has been her protector for centuries, because for some reason powerful goddesses need protectors. He’s also mean and borderline abusive but Girl is intrigued by his brooding ways.

Now Girl must choose which male figure to devote her life to. Should she choose safe, average Boy McNextdoor, who is nice and stuff but not enough of a jerk? Or should she choose the destiny that has already been pre-chosen for her, a life with Dark McHandsome? Should she choose wrong, the entire universe could explode. For some reason.

I'm not trying to pick on any one book or author. Just expressing my frustrations with YA as a whole.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

You should write a scene to this song. Yes, you.

I don't know how popular they are in the States or abroad, but Marianas Trench is a big deal here. Probably because they're from here. They're definitely one of the most successful Vancouver bands, after Hedley. Anyway, I loved their first album when it came out about five years ago, but kind of lost touch with their music.

This new album, though? Holy crap. Talk about ambitious. This song is the best. It's been on repeat in my headphones for days. One of the most emotional songs I've ever heard. It's definitely going to be influencing my writing in a big way very soon.

Happy listening! :)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Teaser Tuesday: Valentine's Edition

I'm not the kind of person who celebrates Valentine's Day. Mostly because I've never had a real relationship, but also because of the dang commercialization of the thing. But even if I'm not a true believer in the holiday, doesn't mean I can't write a good love scene!

So here's a scene from my current, untitled WIP. Two boys and a dormitory bathroom. This is where everything seemed impossible but the first kiss opened up a world of possibilities. Hope you like it!



His voice is close. Not in his room, not in this room, but in between.


I twist the doorknob. The bathroom light falls across Malcolm’s face. He leans against the doorjamb, looking at me with doleful eyes. I open my mouth to ask what’s up, but nothing comes out.

His eyes flicker towards the floor, then back to my face, then his eyelashes flutter shut.

“I -- I...”

All of a sudden I know what he wants. I think I know. Recklessly, I lean forward and press my lips against his.

There’s a single, suspended second of nothingness. Just our mouths colliding, just Malcolm’s impossible stillness. He’s not kissing me back, oh my God, I’ve done the wrong thing.

He staggers forward, wrapping his arms around my waist, pulling me closer. He moans deep in his throat. I open my mouth, more out of shock than anything else, and he falls forward into the space it opens up.

I pull back. Malcolm opens his eyes wide.

“I’m so sorry,” he whispers. He drops his arms from around me.

“W-why are you sorry?”

He scrutinizes my face, breathing hard.

“Is this a dream?” he asks.


“Are you sure?”


He reaches out, hand shaking, and runs his fingers down my chest. I don’t know what to do so I wrap my arms around his waist like he did to me. Our bodies line up from hip to chest.

“Then don’t stop.”

Thursday, February 2, 2012

I Met John Green

Two nights ago now, I went to the Vancouver stop on the Tour de Nerdfighting! If you are even a little bit of a nerdfighter, you know how funny and intelligent and genuine John and Hank Green are -- and that's exactly how this event was.

And if you've read The Fault in Our Stars and liked it as much as I did, you could probably guess how bittersweet and philosophical and deep John is -- and the night was that, too.

And I have pictures!

First, while waiting outside in the pouring, Vancouver rain, my sister and I spotted the van outside! Couldn't resist taking a picture in front of it.

It's hard to see in crappy iPhone quality, but those little marks on cartoon John and Hank's faces? Lipstick! :P Not mine, although I should have thought to bring something other than invisible chapstick.

Unlike most concerts/shows/readings, at this one, photos and video-recording was highly encouraged! Unfortunately I don't own a video camera or even a regular camera, and my sister's iPhone is the only smartphone in the family, so memory-capturing was limited. All I have to share is this picture:

And yes, a puppet show really was performed. And so was a cover of The Proclaimers's "500 Miles." It was awesome.

At the end of the show, John signs books. Yes, again. My copy of TFIOS was already signed, but I could not pass up the opportunity to meet my heroes and get John to actually write my name in my copy. Since the event was sold out, with upwards of 400 people crammed into the tiny theatre, and the line for the signing wound from the stage, up the aisles, out into the lobby, and looped back around into the theatre again, and then into spirals, I thought it would take hours. But I was standing in line barely twenty minutes. John and Hank stressed over and over that meeting each person would be very brief -- pretty much "hi," sign, goodbye -- in consideration for everyone at the end of the line, and these guys really pulled it together and made the wait very bearable.

And when I finally got there? Man, my heart was pounding. John has social anxiety, and he even wrote in the show programme that he gets very nervous and never knows what to say to each person, and that made me feel a lot better. So when I got up to the stage, opened my book and he read the post-it note with my name on it, I somehow knew just what to say.

"You're Becca?" he said.


"Thanks for coming tonight!" he said.

"No problem!"

John smiled and leaned in to write my name and sign a J-scribble. Then my mouth opened.

"Um, my mom is here tonight, and her very favourite band is the Proclaimers, so she was really stoked you guys did that song!"

John looked up, looked me completely straight in the eye, and said, "Oh, no way! That's awesome. Say hi to her for me!"

So I said "No problem!" and he said "Bye! Thanks for making it out!"

And then I moved on and met Hank and he was also completely friendly and overpronounced the hard c sound in my name. And then he said goodnight and I said "Hope to see you again someday!" and he said "Until we meet again!"

And that was it. I hopped off the stage, found my mom and sister, and went home all glowing and happy.

Because you know what? I've met famous people before. I've met guys from bands and news reporters and one (very small-time) Disney Channel actor. And none of them have ever looked me in the eye the way the Vlogbrothers did. I've never come across two people who are more in-tune with their fans, who know how to make each and every person feel appreciated.

It was already true, but that night really cemented my eternal admiration for those guys. I'll always cherish the memories, and I'll be proud to show off this:

And say this:


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Writing Every Day

One of my New Years Resolutions was to write every day. No matter what. It didn't have to be a lot -- it could just be a few sentences. Just something to keep myself always moving forward.

I've done it every day this month. Some days it was just a couple sentences at the end of a very busy day, some days it was a couple hundred words. It is hard. There are some days when I want nothing more than to close the stupid document and never look at my own words again. But I force myself to type at least a couple words.

Sure, some days it feels like pulling teeth. But some days, even when it felt like the last thing I wanted was to write, I ended up getting on a roll and writing 2,000 words. If I had been easier on myself and let myself skip a day, those words might never have been written at all.

They aren't all perfect words. But they're words all the same, building the manuscript brick by brick.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

So I guess I'm kind of a traitor

"Traitor" might be a little strong. But... *whispers*... I've gone over to the dark side a little bit.

A few months ago, I purchased an ereader.

Dun dun duuuun!!!
"But Becca," you say, "you swore you were a paper book always-and-forever kinda girl! What gives?"

Well, one of my biggest weaknesses, that's what: shiny pretty things.

This shiny pretty thing:

And oh, it is so, so shiny and pretty. Smooth, matte, black outside, gorgeous crisp display... I love it.

And the act of reading on this gadget is so much easier than I anticipated! The page turns don't lag half as much as what people complain about, the text is super easy to read, and it's light as a feather. Seriously, it barely weighs anything. And even though it's black and white, the covers still look great! And when it's in sleep mode, it displays the cover of the book you're reading, which is a really cute feature that I love. Sure, sometimes I feel a little far removed from the book, not having something really, truly in my hands, but honestly? This way it's easier to stop obsessing about covers and formats and concentrate on what really matters: the story.

Do I still prefer paper books? Well, of course. Although my Kobo has a delicious new plastic scent all its own (think "new car"), I still love the way physical books smell. The way they feel and look so pretty on my shelves. And of course I miss the full glory of gorgeous covers, with foiling and shiny parts and such, but when I have two six-foot bookshelves full to bursting, I don't really have a choice but to buy more ebooks.

I'll still buy physical books, of course. Especially if they're new books in a series or books I really care about physically owning (favourite authors and such), but otherwise I'm going to try to buy electronic. Shelf space is at a premium around here, and cramming them all into this pretty little box suits me just fine.