Wednesday, March 30, 2011

I like water, you should too

I know for a fact that we writers all want one thing in our lives: awesome. Yes. That's right. Awesome. We want to write awesome books, we want people to think those books are awesome, and we'd really love it if people thought we were awesome too.

Starting tomorrow (aka: March 31st), Kat Brauer over at The Flighty Temptress is going to show you all what awesome means via her Crits for Water Campaign.
Super official banner goodness.
Yup, this is a charity thing. For clean water. For $5000 worth of clean, sustainable water for an entire community. If you want some heavier details, Kat lays them out nicely.

Now if the idea of donating money to charity makes you squirm, fret not. Also, re-read the title of the fundraiser. If you donate to charity: water something awesome will happen: your writing will get critiqued. Be it by Kat or by someone from her intensive list of guest critiquers (which includes published authors, agents, and all sorts of fun people). There are also "Super Sekrit" giveaways.

Remember when we were talking about awesome-ness? Yeah.

I don't expect you all to run over and throw your money in Kat's direction. Some of us can't really afford to do that, no matter how much we want to. But, if nothing else, tell someone else about it. Tell your writerly friends, tell your blog readers, tell everyone on Twitter until they're begging you to shut up. Let's promote the hell out of this thing!

Now go forth, spread the word!

Monday, March 28, 2011

How to make your dialogue sing

Or talk, I guess.

Either way, dialogue is one of the most important parts of writing. So I figured it was about time to talk about how I write dialogue and how I work to fix bad dialogue.

Now, these are the tips that work for me. Not everyone is going to find this post useful. But if you're having problems with your dialogue, if it just feels like something is off and you're not sure why, take a look. Maybe I can help.

And thus, presenting, ten different ways to improve your dialogue:
  • Eavesdrop on people
    A lot of new writers write how they imagine people to speak--which is often based off of bad movie dialogue. Overcome this by spying on people. Listen to your fellow bus riders and grocery shoppers. You'll find that conversations aren't always straight-forward. People like to talk about more than one thing at once and arguments can hide behind an "innocent" discussion on cabbage.
  • Cut out the fluff
    One of the most important balances in writing is keeping dialogue realistic, but not too realistic. No one wants to read your character stumbling through sentences--fictional characters should always be coherent when speaking. But at the same time, their dialogue isn't always going to be grammatically correct. Like I said, careful balance.
  • Make sure every word counts
    Small talk is boring in real life and it's ultra boring in fiction. If your characters are ever discussing something that's not vital to the story (ie: the weather), then it's probably time to cut it short. Pay close attention to characters meeting new people, because introductions can also fall into this category.
  • Avoid telling the story
    Using dialogue as a means of exposition is a problem 95% of the time. You want your dialogue to be genuine, not constantly bogged down by the need to explain what is or isn't happening. If your characters must explain something, just make sure it's not information your reader already knows.
  • Remember your setting
    If you're working on a high fantasy, it's best to not use colloquial vocabulary unless you're going for an anachronism happy mashup like A Knight's Tale. Not only does it feel awkward, but your readers will have a hard time taking you seriously. Also, in the case of pop culture references, there's a good chance that ten years from now your readers will have no idea what you're referring to.
  • Remember your characters
    Did your character have an extremely formal education? Or did she grow up speaking Pidgin on the streets? These kinds of details are important. If your character isn't British or doesn't have some kind of connection to Britain, she has no reason to be using British slang. Inspect your dialogue and make sure that it's in character.
  • Make sure your characters have voices
    Try writing a scene that's strictly dialogue. No dialogue tags, no descriptive paragraphs. Nothing but dialogue. Now leave it alone for a day or two. Then come back and read through the scene. Can you tell who is speaking when there are no cues? Everyone talks differently, and if your characters are sounding the same, focus on improving their individual voices.
  • Tread lightly with dialects and accents
    It's really easy to overdo a cultural dialect or make it completely illegible. The goal is to keep things colorful without sending readers running, and there are several ways to approach this. My suggestion is to listen to native speakers. There are plenty of videos on YouTube, and the more you listen to your dialect/accent of choice, the more you'll be able to pick up on it's nuances and distinct vocabulary. It also helps to write the dialogue as you normally would and then add in the accent. But most importantly, keep things simple.
  • Read conversations out loud
    Maybe something sounds natural when you're writing it, but one of the best ways to tell is through vocalization. If you stumble over the words, if they come out jagged no matter how many times you repeat them, how can you expect your character to say them? Reading aloud can help you keep dialogue smooth and natural, so never be afraid to do it.
  • Start reading plays
    Broadway plays, Grecian plays, Shakespearean plays--read any play you can get your hands on. They all have the distinct advantage of relying heavily on dialogue to make things happen. Conversations in plays are never a waste of time. Focus on how playwrights keep things simple and clean, and then apply that to your own writing!

What do all of you think? Do you have any other tricks to keep your dialogue realistic? Or do you have any further questions or issues? Tell/ask me in the comments!

Friday, March 25, 2011

The invading power pole army

So if any of you thought the conspiracy of the trees post was the only Oregon picture dump post, you were incorrect in your assumption. I'm just staggering them out so I don't bore you all with pictures. Speaking of which, image heavy post ahoy!

Anyway. Today I am here to tell you about the second evil plot of Oregon. Well, sort of. I guess it's not really evil. Or a plot. But whatever.

First of all, the most important thing you need to understand is that I grew up in southern Idaho and went to college in western Montana. When we see giant, scary power poles they look something like this:
One lone Montana power pole on a mountain.
Our giant power poles are rare and often made of wood. They don't come off as murderous alien invaders. Now, the second important point here is that the farther west Boyfriend and I drove to get to Portland, the more prevalent the power poles became.
Not that these look particularly menacing or anything.
However, now it is time for you to scroll back up and observe that one Montana power pole sitting alone on top of the mountain. Think about that power pole. Observe how not menacing it is. How a hoard of people could easily overpower it with torches and pitchforks. Then scroll down and envision this:
Looming death machines. Also, note the creepy branches at the top of the frame.
Power poles. Everywhere! And in all shapes and sizes.
They even had a special road. And yes, this exit really does exist.
It's pretty much an army on the horizon, ready to kill us all.
All of this got Boyfriend and me thinking. What if these power poles really were an invading army? More specifically, what if they were some kind of enemy in a video game? You know, something 2D with a fun aesthetic, like Patapon. Maybe Flower sort of already did it, but those power poles were kind of static. These ones would fling electrical whips and move in waves of death and destruction! Like a tower defense game. Just tell me these aren't great enemies:
It looks pissed off. It looks like it wants to kill us.
These would obviously be armored baddies that would stomp on you.
Once again, giant, angry video game villains. They're all so angry!
The best part about this whole video game power pole conspiracy was the fact that they actually did attack. Really. On our second to last day in Oregon, there was a terrible windstorm which knocked out all the power in Sandy. Luckily we missed it since we were taking a day trip in Astoria, but it was crazy. Signs were blown out and downtown Sandy was completely dark.

Better yet, we got to drive over power lines. That's right. We drove on power lines. The lines had snapped in the wind and hundreds of yards of them coiled across the road. It was too dark to get any good pictures, but the next day the electrical workers had looped the loose cable on the fence next to the road. Check it:
Ignore Boyfriend's face and focus on the shiny power lines. Ooo.
So how many of you think I'm just crazy now? How about when I tell you that Boyfriend and I probably took more pictures of trees and power poles than anything else? And what about this video game idea? Good? Bad? Lame? Tell me in the comments!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


Let's talk about sports.

I've never been big into sports. You know that kid in every gym class? The one that gets hit in the face every week, be it with a basketball, a dodge ball, or even a hockey stick? That was totally me. And yes, the hockey stick incident very much hurt.

Yet, despite this disinclination, I was on a swim team.

The best part about swim team was not the fact that you were never sweaty. Or that your nasal cavities were permanently sanitized thanks to the constant inhalation of chlorine. Or even that swim team helped me letter in high school despite being a straight up nerd. No. The best part was how easy it was to mark my progress.

Let's be straight here. I was not the best person on swim team. I wasn't even close. But every second I could shave off of my lap time was a victory. It was child's play to memorize my fastest times and compare them to the instant results at swim meets. I knew when I had done my best. It was easy to see that I was getting better.

Writing, on the other hand, is not like that.

There are no numbers to tell you that you've improved--no empirical way to write a chapter and know that it's better than anything you've written before. Every sentence is different and fluid. Something that seemed wonderful a week ago might be terrible now. It doesn't help that your judgment is completely warped when writing and everything seems a thousand times better or worse than it really is.

There is, however, one way to tell. It's a bit more time consuming than comparing stats, but it definitely works. Go read your old work.

I recently finished a full-length manuscript and in the process of avoiding it, I've been piddling about with old writings. Some were better than expected. Most were far worse than remembered. The key thing they all share though: when I wrote/edited them, I thought they were awesome. Now they mostly make me cringe.

Where were my storytelling skills? How on earth did I think that word choice was good? What was I thinking when I re-wrote that entire section?

But looking back on something old is great because it reaffirms that I have been improving. It's not precise like comparing swim times, but I can tell that my writing has become more concise, more controlled than it used to be. Maybe it's not perfect, but I'm definitely not writing dialogue along the lines of "Yikes-o-wowie! It's dang dark in here!"* anymore.

So the next time you're feeling down about what you've written, go back and read something old. If you're like me, there will be rampant cliches and dialogue that'll make you wince. Then you'll definitely feel better about what you're writing now.

Have you done this recently? Does your old writing horrify you, or is some of it surprisingly salvageable? Or should we spend more time reading and absorbing how the masters wrote instead of reflecting on our old follies? Tell me what you think in the comments.

*This decade old line is by far the best thing I have ever written. Totally.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Writerly Tools: Freedom

Social networking websites are going to be the fall of mankind. I wouldn't be surprised if somewhere there was a study recording how much time people spend on Facebook or Twitter. I never want to see it, but I'm sure it exists.

But really. Writers spend a lot of time on the computer and a lot of time procrastinating from writing. This makes it very easy to get distracted by the internet.

Case in point being me. I have my computer set up to use Spaces, which basically allows me to have two desktops which I can switch between. One space is for writing, and the other is for everything else. This is a great setup to keep me on task, except for the part where it's easy to switch between them.

I neurotically go check Twitter and my email at random times when writing. Sometimes twenty minutes have passed. Sometimes thirty seconds have passed. Either way, the internet sucks away productivity and when you're working under a deadline, that becomes nightmarish. Then I found Fred Stutzman's Freedom and didn't have a choice about the matter.

I know. It sounds ridiculous. But the purpose of Freedom is to make internet distractions vanish, and even though the program itself is pretty simple, it does the job well. So let me give you five reasons why Freedom is awesome:
  1. Freedom will save you from the internet
    The main selling point of Freedom is the fact that is disables your networking capabilities for a set period of time. What this really means is that it takes away the main source of distraction for writers: the internet. This is really, really great.
  2. Freedom lasts for up to eight hours
    Eight hours. That's a whole lot of freedom. I haven't tested it, but I'm pretty sure if you put your computer on standby, that time will pause and you will be forced to stick to business for eight whole hours.
  3. Freedom doesn't go away unless you reboot
    That's right. The only way to get your internet back is to either suffer the full length of time or go through the hassel of rebooting your computer. Because of this and the inherent laziness of many writers, Freedom works.
  4. Freedom is just $10
    A lot of software is really expensive, which is one of the reasons that I have so many freeware or shareware programs on my computer. Freedom, however, is a program that can not only ultimately boost your productivity, it's cheap. Writers write for hours on end--there's no way to not think this price is awesome.
  5. Freedom works on Macs and PCs
    I have a bit of a habit called reviewing Mac-only programs. This might be because my laptop is a MacBook Pro. It's made me a bit biased considering that, although I have Windows 7 on Bootcamp, I do my writing in OS X. Either way, Freedom is computer friendly for both Windows and OS X!

Friday, March 18, 2011

These trees are out to get you

Now, I like taking pictures. I'm no photographer and I definitely don't have a camera that lets me pretend to be one, but pictures can be fun. This post is evidence of me being ridiculous with my camera. Also, it is image heavy. I'm sorry.

Now, just for some background, this post is all about trees. Specifically trees in Oregon and how creepy they are. Like many of you, I grew up with trees. They had green leaves/needles and brown trunks. They were also not very memorable. Oregon trees are different. The first sign I had that there was something wrong with the trees in Oregon was this:
What is this mysterious rectangular blob in the distance?
 Which, on closer inspection turned out to be this:
Creepy, endless death trees. Also, a power pole, which is another post coming.
These trees lasted for miles. Creepy, identical and freakishly tall trees. I half expected to see werewolves galavanting through them. This was not the case. Eventually Boyfriend and I left the tree field behind and everything seemed safe again. This was also not the case.

A slight detour in the Colombia River Gorge and suddenly we were surrounded by trees. But not ordinary trees. Witchy trees. Seriously. There was even this creepy fence built from crooked metal poles and half-eroded mossy logs.
The Hansel and Gretel witch was just around the corner.
And if those weren't weird enough, the closer we got to out destination, the stranger things got. The witch trees were, well witchy, but at least they were still brown. Not like these next things:
Fluffy trees. FLUFFY TREES. Enough said.
Difficult to see, but these trees are also freakish and fluffy.
After 12 hours of driving, Boyfriend and I made it to our destination. For the next few days we would be surrounded by trees, just waiting to kill us in our sleep.
Backyard tree: broken limbs angling towards the house to eat us.
Yes, that green thing is part of a tree, also angling downward to maim. 
Don't even ask me what's up with this tree. It's not normal.
And then we encountered something that may or may not have been a tree. It could have been an alien. Or a mutant, green Bigfoot. Either way, I feel like touching it would result in mutant moss spores invading my body and turning me into a zombie or something. Seriously.
Yes, that green, weepy thing is a tree. There was "moss" everywhere.
Now, you may think I'm crazy. But I'm not. Really*. You just have to look past the facade that the Oregon trees wear. For example, the King Midas tree:
Normal leaves, sparkling like gold. But they are not gold.
That tree might look all pretty and harmless, but it is a lie. The trees in Oregon are slowly planning our demise. Here, my final piece of evidence:
Everything seems normal with the flash on, but . . .
So, what do you guys think? Are the trees in Oregon ridiculous and creepy? Or have I lost my mind? Tell me in the comments (because I really want to know).

* By the way, I'm not crazy. The trees were weird and fun and I thought I'd share. Hopefully they'll inspire you somehow. But please don't start thinking I'm paranoid on trees like some people are on aliens or the government.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Squid-zilla's revenge!

Hey, long time no see guys. Did you enjoy my guest posts? Hope so! Unfortunately, I'm about to rain on our parade. This post is not the awesome-sauce picture dump that I had planned, as I far overestimated my ability to compose a post of such excellence after a 13-hour car drive.

Instead, I present to you a video of the previously featured Hawaiian bobtail squid and some other cool stuff like a mimic octopus, crustaceans, and a group of random people I don't know. If you need any incentive to actually watch this video: the bobtail squid burrows with its tiny, adorable legs. TINY, ADORABLE LEGS. Enough said.

Next time, I promise you, creepy trees and invading electrical pole armies. Look forward to the goodness.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Guest Post: Science vs English!

Hey everyone, once again, I'm still chilling out in Portland. It's pretty sweet. But you'll get to see my shining face again on Wednesday! Woo! Anyway, here's Squidink's final guest blogger, Kirstin from SqueezeBoxPharm!

I think one of the biggest problems behind the divide between "science people" and "english people" is that each side has put together preconceived notions of what it means to be the other.

To an English Person, someone in the sciences is only doing it because it pays well - because no one in their right mind could possibly find anything meaningful in a field that prides itself on utter objectivity.

To a Science Person, english majors are those people that couldn't cut it with the hard stuff and who spend all of their days sipping tea and reading frivolous novels.

I'm exaggerating to make a point, here.

I consider myself to fall in the middle of both of these categories. I'm a third year pharmacy school student (which has more science than I believed existed), but in the time I'm not cramming for exams, I live and breath literature and music. My fellow students are not like this. There has been hissing and shying away when I heave my copy of Heart of Darkness onto the desk for some quick perusing between lectures.

I know full well the hours of work that go into writing even a small analytical paper. I know the insanity that is trying to read an article on literary theory. I know the painstaking effort and shattering self-doubt that goes into writing anything fiction, the hours of revision and the conviction that the sentence you've just put down is the worst thing in the history of the universe. (Sarah, it's not. I promise.)

But I also know the beauty in a well-designed experiment. I know the purity that flows from a perfect equation, from the solidity of knowing that this is the answer. I know the uplifting feeling that comes from using knowledge to correct an error and help a patient.

My point is that English and Science people need to get over themselves and embrace the other side. We science people have a lot to offer! I'm proud of the fact that I can give my writing friends accurate medical information to make a gory scene just that much more creepy. And that I can evaluate the severity of an infection to help make things as realistic as possible.

I gain a lot from said writing friends as well--they're more than willing to tear apart something I've written when a science person would declare it perfect because they don't see the issues in tone. Or pacing. Or adverbs. This tearing apart, this destruction of what needs to be taken out, would not happen if these friends had not studied the technique to do this very thing. And I would be much worse off for it.

There is soul in Science. There is precision in English. We can get along!

Kirstin is a third year pharmacy student wanting to specialize in infectious disease, specifically lab and clinical research in tuberculosis. She also enjoys writing, fine accordion music, and the occasional forays into cooking and knitting. You can stalk her online at her blog, SqueezeBoxPharm, or on Twitter as @kjkpharm.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Guest Post: The Law of Attraction

Yep, I'm still in Portland. But do not fret, for Squidink has another awesome guest blogger to keep you entertained and slake your thirst. Here's Kate, the Queen of Creativity!

In case you're from another planet or just don't know anything about the Law of Attraction, let me give you the basics. At its core it means "like attracts like" or "I attract to myself whatever I give my focus, attention, or energy to whether I want it or not." For example, if you think positive thoughts about a goal and work towards it with those thoughts, you will foster a positive outcome. You can go back through your life and actually see how this has played out. Whatever you do focus on you get more of.

Now, you may be wondering what does the Law of Attraction has to do with writing. Like a lot of people, I read writing blogs. Some focus on technique, others on the publishing journey, and some are by published authors I admire. All these blogs have a common denominator and is that they all talk about the fact that writing is hard.

While some people manage it gracefully, others are big whiners and go on and on about how labor intensive writing is or how they've been screwed over by the publishing industry. I like to think of writers as a creative, imaginative group of people, but these posts kind of make writers look like a depressed lot! I swear, in one week I must have read about writing being so hard a dozen times.

But enough is enough. I, like so many others, expect to be encouraged by writing blogs and the gloom and doom shouldn't be all that's on everyone's mind. This is where the Law of Attraction comes into play.

I think its time that writers started using the Law of Attraction to their advantage. It's easy. Just stop saying "writing is hard," so much. Now, I am not saying writing isn't hard. I just think that people need to stop focusing on that.

Try thinking about how wonderful writing is. Let's start blogging about how we wrote the most beautiful sentence last night. Or say, "Oh, I finished my book and it was so rewarding. I am going to miss those characters, they really made me smile." By being positive about our writing, we'll attract more positive experiences with our writing.

So let's make our posts more positive--there is enough negativity out there without creating more. I challenge all the writing bloggers out there to put a positive spin on your posts!

Kate believes that everyone is creative and uses the power of intention as she explores her own creativity through writing, multi-media art journaling, spinning, and weaving. You can stalk her online at her mixed media blog, The Queen of Creativity, or at her Ning network, The Queen of Creativity Castle.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Guest Post: Location, location, location!

As you guys may recall, I'm in Portland right now on a noble apartment-hunting quest. However, I am kind! I did not leave you wandering the desert searching for a drink of water! Let's welcome Squidink's first guest blogger, Brenna from Writing and Reading!

Hello Blogites,

I’m going to talk to y’all about place today. Not as in setting, but as in where you write. It’s more important than you would think, especially when it comes to productivity.

I’m writing to you from a coffee shop. Yes, that’s right. I’m all stereotypically writerly like that. But I don’t write in a coffee shop just so people will see me being all authorly; I do it because it’s the best way for me to get things done. Doesn’t mean that’s the same for you, however.

It all comes down to distractions, and what you’re distracted by. See, I’m distracted by the familiar. If I try to write at home, I’ll be wandering into the kitchen, turning on the TV, finding laundry that needs to be put away, or all sorts of other things that would take me away from the task at hand: ie, writing.

When I’m at a coffee shop, however, I only really have what I take with me. I can’t pick up my sketchpad and be distracted unless I bring it with me. There isn’t a TV in my coffee shop, and I have coffee, which can keep me motivated. Sure every so often I can get distracted by eavesdropping on others, but that only fuels my understanding and ideas for dialog.

This may be completely opposite for you. Sarah, while able to write anywhere, is most productive at home where everything is familiar and thus not distracting. That’s okay. I had a friend during last NaNoWriMo who made herself a little writing nest at her desk where she had everything she could possibly need within an arm’s reach. That worked for her, but it would be hard on me.

No matter where you are, you need to make sure you’re in an environment where you can get the most out of your writing. We’ve all been there: when you’re so distracted that you can’t fully get into the zone, so everything turns out crappy and disjointed. That’s no fun, but it does happen, and your environment influences that.

It all boils down to distractions. Which ones tempt you the most? Where do you do the bulk of your writing? Can you write anywhere or do you have someplace special? Let me know!

Brenna has been a story maker-upper since she was very little and a writer since she was twelve. She is currently the city reporter for the Cody Enterprise in Cody, WY and trying to break into the publishing industry. You can stalk her at her blog, I Write and Read, or on Twitter as @brennabraaten.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Completing a manuscript is awesome sauce

As some of you may remember, I challenged myself to finish the first draft of my manuscript by March 7th. I am here to tell you guys that somehow I pulled this off. *throws confetti and binder clips into the air*

Later today I have great ambitions called going to OfficeMax, getting the manuscript printed, and buying special office supplies so I can rip it to shreds in a month. It will be awesome.

For a little background, this is the first novel length manuscript that I have actually finished. I'm astounded and impressed at the same time. And really happy.

The original draft of my WIP was actually written in 2008 during NaNoWriMo, but it was really more like a glorified outline than a draft because it sucked. A lot. So last August I trashed it and started re-writing the entire thing, which is hopefully a thousand times better now. If nothing else, I can safely say that the melodrama and injury count have gone up exponentially.

Anyway, I thought it would be kind of cool to make a Wordle of the entire manuscript for everyone's entertainment. If you've never heard of Wordle, it's a generator makes a cloud based on word frequency in a text (this is, of course, minus common words like "the"). Note the very large names of my characters, the fact that I apparently talk about eyes a lot, and the random flowers interspersed between other words.

I kind of wonder why I apparently used "one" so often. Heh, I must have had a wonderful reason.

Wasn't that exciting? Now I'm going to throw stats at you. They're not that interesting, I guess, but I kind of want to record them for posterity.

Working Title: Kai Story Part 1
Genre: YA (Epic?) Fantasy
Total Word Count: 103,559
Chapters: 23
Average Chapter Length: 4,503
Different Point-of-Views: 3
Months Worked On: 6-ish
Awesome Songs That Helped: You're Gonna Go Far, Kid by The Offspring, Monster by Skillet, Devour by Shinedown, Beautiful Bride by Flyleaf, Nothing and Everything by Red, Rolling in the Deep by Adele, Blinding by Florence + The Machine, and Decode by Paramore.

So, what about you guys? Have you ever finished a novel length manuscript? Or are you puttering away at it right now? Tell me in the comments--let's commiserate together!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Crush your writerly woes and read!

I feel like every time I have a lot of stuff to get done, the books that I reserved at the library weeks ago finally come in. And they all do this at once, despite the fact that the internet told me that there were 8 holds on one book and only 3 on the other.

This, of course, isn't me complaining. I'm always good with multiple piles of books cluttering up my desk. I mean, books are awesome and writers should read as many as they can get their grubby fingers on.

It astounds me that some writers don't read. If you want to study craft, the best way to go about it is by reading books. They don't have to be books in your genre or age group--just books in general. Reading is one of the best things you can do to make yourself a better writer because it shows you what publishable writing looks like.

And I know, the excuses are endless. Here is what I have to say to them:
  • I don't want anything to influence my writing style (is that 100% a bad thing? really?)
  • I would rather spend time with my own novel (uhh, self-centered much?)
  • I'd rather do something completely unrelated when not writing (yet you want people to read your book?)
  • I don't want to spend the money on new books (libraries! or free e-books!)
Frankly, these are all ridiculous (if you didn't get that from the snarky comments). You should be reading. A lot.

And to help motivate you, I present the idea of a reading goal. Turn reading into a competition and leave your fellow readers wallowing in the dust. There's nothing like the schadenfreude of crushing the unworthy!


Having a goal always makes things more exciting. There are a bunch of great reading challenges on the net, like the ebook challenge, the global book challenge, and the YA debut author challenge to mention a few. Personally, I'm participating in the Goodreads 2011 Reading Challenge and am aiming for at least 50 books this year.

So, what do you guys think? To read, or not to read? Have any of you set a reading challenge for 2011? If so, how are you doing on it? If not, well, it's never too late to start! Tell me your thoughts in the comments.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

February Book Roundup

Woohoo, book roundup time!

It didn't finish quite as many books this month, but I do have a few things I'm in the middle of reading that will get carried over to March. Look forward to them!

More importantly, I'm ditching the star ratings. Mostly because I dislike how arbitrary stars can be. Sometimes three stars is a good thing and sometimes it's a bad thing. Which sucks. In accordance to this change, the stars from the January Book Roundup have vanished.

However, do not fret! I will be marking my absolute favorites with a star (). Because even though books in general rock, sometimes there are special ones. I'm talking about the ones that keep you up for all hours of the night and make you wish there was a sequel that you could go buy right now. Those ones.

Now, let's get this show on the road. For those who don't know, I don't do book reviews. Once a month I write quick, Twitter-style blurbs.

Across the Universe by Beth Revis
YA Sci-fi--Awesome dystopian sci-fi with a dash of teen romance. Full of dramatic twists and delightfully creepy world-building that is to die for. 

Matched by Ally Condie
YA Dystopian--Classic dystopian romance. The world didn't feel dangerous enough, but Cassia is relatable and I adored both of her love interests.

Zombicorns by John Green
YA Post-apocalyptic--A novella about corn-obsessed zombies. Better than it sounds, trust me. Mia's voice is strong, even during the heavy, philosophy bits.

Irregular Creatures by Chuck Wendig
Short Story Anthology--Short story collection with an emphasis on the bizarre. "Dog-Man and Cat-Bird" is worth the book, but other stories not for the faint of heart. 

Num8ers by Rachel Ward
YA Paranormal--Jem is a girl who can see when people are going to die. Interesting idea and Spider was raw and well-rounded, but many things fell flat for me.

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld
YA Steampunk--Alternate history featuring everything I've ever wanted in steampunk. Gorgeous world-building and all sorts of fun with creatures and machines. 

What books did you guys read this month? Any of these? And if you've read these books before, what were your thoughts? Tell me in the comments!