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.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Review: Zombie Tag by Hannah Moskowitz

I know Hannah. Not IRL, but in that interwebby friends kind of way. I promise you, that in no way affects this review.

And even if I were just writing this review to kiss ass, the review wouldn't be any different. Because I adored this book. Flat-out adored.

Hannah's books and I haven't always had the best relationships. Break, I had a couple quibbles with. Invincible Summer, I liked more, but wasn't totally in love. Zombie Tag, however, makes me feel like this.

/waltzes with book

And since my love for Hannah books seems to be growing exponentially with each passing release, this definitely bodes well for Gone, Gone, Gone, which I was already salivating for.

Anyway. Zombie Tag.

A while back, I used to be kind of leery of middle grade books. I mean, seriously, I'm like ten years out of their target audience. I used to kind of worry that I wouldn't enjoy middle grade books because I would feel too smart for them. Too sophisticated or something.

Well, with the amount of absolutely stellar MG books I've read lately, like Rebecca Stead's When You Reach Me, I've learned that this is totally false. And, if you're an older person wary of MG, I highly recommend you read that book and Zombie Tag to experience a complete 180-degree change of mind.

This book has so, so much emotional sophistication packed into its pages I couldn't even believe it. The relationship between Wil and his brother, Graham, was so believable and fraught with emotion. Anyone who's read anything by Hannah already knows that sibling relationships are her specialty, and this one is my favourite out of any she's written. MG is the perfect place for her family-driven stories. Not that her YA suffers for the family relationships, but I feel like it really shines here, in a story for a slightly younger audience.

But a younger audience doesn't mean a stupider one. The world-building in Zombie Tag is, I think, genius. It feels like our regular world, but just enough twists are given for the premise to be believable. One character's parent is a zombie researcher. There are mentions of a zombie outbreak thirty years in the past. These are my favourite kinds of settings: everything's fantastical, but in the most normal of ways. It's reality with a tiny twist.

It's common knowledge among zombie film/literature enthusiasts that zombies work best when they're a symbol for something else. They often represent the soul-crushing conformity that humans sometimes give in to. Hannah's zombies are a metaphor for depression, one that hit me hard. They have no emotions. They're like regular people, but they have no feelings. They're bland, boring, they can't bring themselves to care about anything. On the surface it makes a humorous premise for MG readers -- zombies are sad instead of raging monsters, ha ha -- but the layers of emotional depth here make them so much more. I saw a lot of myself and people I love who have suffered from depression in the zombies, and that made it an even more meaningful story for me.

Zombie Tag is funny. It's cute. It has a killer plot with a great twist. It works perfectly for it's young audience, but it takes on whole new meanings for older readers, which I think every good children's book should do.

In short, you need to read this book. Seriously. If you don't, the zombies will get you.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Goals for 2012

I wasn't really the kind of person to make New Years Resolutions until last year. And I accomplished that one! So now I feel like I should keep going, because I'm good at goal-keeping. Goaltending? Am I a goalie?

I'll take it. I'm in good company.


Anyway, here are my goals for 2012:

1) Read at least 10 more books than I did last year.

I'm not sure if this is going to be difficult or not. I'm kind of a slow reader.

2) Get through my TBR pile and try not to buy as many new books.

This will be hard. My TBR pile will probably keep me going throughout all of 2012. There are a few new releases that I HAVE to get (The Fault in Our Stars, of course, and a few others), but I'm going to try my best to buy the bare minimum of new releases. Once the TBR pile goes down, then I can go back to acquire the latest and greatest.

3) Buy more ebooks.

Physical books, as much as I love them, take up space. Space I don't really have. If I can buy more ebooks, I'll save space and money. Win win.

Of course, I will buy physical books I really want. Some books, especially sequels and books by authors I already own a lot by, have to be present on my shelf.

4) Write every day.

This is probably the most important goal. I want to write every single friggin day. Whether that's just a paragraph or a whole chapter. Doesn't matter. I want to keep my forward momentum. I don't want to get stalled or drained again like I did the past few weeks. Granted, I had valid excuses, but it never feels good to get stuck in a rut.

I think that's all the goals... here's to hoping I can keep all those pucks out of the net.

(I'll stretch the metaphor as far as it'll go; if you hadn't gathered, I'm a hockey fan)