Killer Kittens

This blog as become less of a “YA novel blog” and more of a “whatever I feel like talking about today blog”. This post will not break the norm, but it does sort of have to do with writing.

I’ve discovered I am one of the last people on Earth to hear about the website Written? Kitten!, but I’ll say a little about it for those like me out in space. The site is fantastic. For every 100 to 1,000 words written a picture of a kitten appears on the screen!

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http://www.flickr.com/photos/neilghamilton/3959888385/

I was so excited to use the program, but then I remembered that I don’t like cats very much. Some of the kittens just aren’t that cute or look like they’re going to eat me. If I’m going to be eaten by a cat, I’d prefer a lion. They’re supposed to be terrifying.

So my excitement was lost and I went back to my boring word document. I was getting too distracted looking at a cat I didn’t particularly like.

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http://www.flickr.com/photos/elbosco/204168249/

Then I wasted more time on the Internet instead of writing and found that they have a puppy version! I mean, this picture is adorable.

In unrelated news, today is the last day of November. For some that means the last night of National Novel Writing Month. Keep going! Finish your novels! (Yeah, I didn’t actually do it this year, but I’m here to support all of those who kept with it!)

Also, what is this about a book on pencil sharpening? It’s all Melville House’s twitter talks about now. Someone please explain.

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NaNoWriMo Ate My Soul

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It’s November 9th. For nine days, I have been ignoring the fact that it’s November. I’m supposed to be writing for National Novel Writing Month, but I haven’t even picked a plot. It’s really pathetic.

Right now, I am with my friend Hannah, and apparently we’re having a “Writing Party”, which just means we’re spending our Friday night staring at our laptops/notebooks. We have thrilling lives.

She’s managed to nearly keep up with her word count, but I take comfort in the fact that she completely changed her story, and just now figured out her main character’s name. At least she’s writing.

I just really don’t want a repeat of last year, where I wrote garbage of the same quality as the short stories I wrote when I was ten. It pains me to look at that document.

Actually, over the summer I found an old notebook I’d used when I was thirteen or fourteen. The princess story I wrote in that notebook had more of a plot.

This year, if I’m actually going to do this, I need to have a real plot. I don’t know how I’ll ever catch up. I’m thinking I’ll just write more than normal and not worry about the NaNo word goal. A small increase in the time I spend in writing would probably be better than writing 15,000 of the worst words of my life in a single night(which is what I’d need to do to catch up), right?

Wow. I just did that math. I’m definitely not writing 15,000 words tonight. I could, but then I’d just hit the delete button.

Okay, I have to go get coffee and possibly start writing this thing. I don’t know what I’m writing, but I’ll figure it out.

Random House/Penguin Merge

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Today I learned that Random House and Penguin Group may merge. Soon the “big six” in the publishing world may only be those five book publishers that used to rule the industry before nook and Kindle. How long will it be until there is only one major traditional publishing company?

I have heard that the traditional publishing industry is becoming a thing of the past, but I didn’t want to believe it. E-books are becoming increasingly popular, despite my stubbornness. I bought a nook a few years ago, but after a few months I stopped using it. I couldn’t feel the pages underneath my fingertips. The pages didn’t look the same as a book page, despite the modern technology that went into making the screen look like paper. I couldn’t feel the weight of a thick book or see cracks develop in the spine.

I take pride in my bookshelves. Once a year I completely reorganize them to accommodate the books I have acquired that cannot possibly fit on my crammed shelves. For many, running out of room would make an electronic book tablet more desirable, but I love being able to look, touch, and smell all of my books.

When I officially ran out of space and had to move books into a closet, I was ecstatic. That sounds nerdy, but it’s true. One of the “selling points” for e-readers is that it is nearly impossible to run out of room. There is no fun in deciding which books to have on display because they can’t be displayed at all.

The Random House and Penguin merge may only be the first step to the end of traditional book publishing. I feel like this is much like when Borders announced that their problems were minor, and only a few low profit stores would be shut down. Now the Borders where I spent countless hours is an organic grocery store.

As a writer, I should be happy with this change. However, as a reader I am deeply saddened. I don’t want traditional publishing to die.

I planned to post about the successes and failures of  YA books made into film. However, as I Google searched these books, agitation changed the topic of this blog post.

A library website appeared to have a list of Young Adult books that have been made into movies, but that wasn’t what the list was at all. The list was composed of classics! Moby Dick was on the list. It was not practical.

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I was then reminded of the classics in the YA section of Barnes & Noble with covers that try to lure in teenagers who apparently have never heard of Jane Austen.

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I mean, I understand the importance of encouraging teens to read classic literature, but why do young people need to be tricked into reading the Bronte sisters? If they like reading enough to enter a bookstore, they are surely smart enough to wander over to the shelves that contain classics. I somehow managed to find Jane Eyre and Romeo & Juliet in the proper place when I was in high school.

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Not only are the books covertly placed in YA, but the covers are ridiculous! They don’t match the story line. Instead, they have a color scheme of black, red, and white. I don’t think I have to point out which bestselling series these classics mirror. The similarities are kind of disgusting. It’s like the publishers are trying to say the series is of the same quality as classics that have been loved by many for centuries.

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Others aren’t as annoying, such as this copy of Emma. The green is pretty hideous, but at least it’s more original.

So  to all the teenagers out there who want to read a classics, please wander over to the adult literature section. In five years you will be glad you didn’t buy the classic with the YA cover.

Classics as YA

An Abundance of Katherines

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green is a young adult novel about Colin Singleton and his best friend Hassan’s road trip after high school graduation. Colin likes girls named Katherine with a “K”. In fact, he likes Katherines so much that he has dated Katherines 19 times, and each time, Katherine dumped him. As a child prodigy, Colin believes he can create a theorem to predict the outcome of relationships and find out why he is always dumped.

The best thing about this book is the footnotes. These aren’t typical footnotes like those found in classics or complicated non-fiction books. The footnotes in this novel completely changed my opinion of footnotes because they are undeniably hilarious. I laughed out loud during most of the novel, and I am not one to vocally express myself when I find something funny.

There was only one thing I did not like about An Abundance of Katherines. The main character, Colin, is incredibly annoying. He is smart, but he doesn’t believe he is a genius, which he points out throughout the novel. He is also selfish and whiny. However, after a few chapters, I forgot about all of this. Somehow, John Green was able to keep my attention despite keeping me in the head of such an aggravating character.

Katherines has won many awards including the Michael L. Printz award for excellence in young adult literature.

Green’s other novels are Looking For Alaska, Paper Towns, and The Fault in our Stars. He co-wrote Will Grayson, Will Grayson with David Levithan, and wrote the anthology Let It Snow with Maureen Johnson and Lauren Myracle.

John Green, as well as being one of the most well-known YA authors today, founded Nerdfighters with his brother, Hank Green. Check out their YouTube channel here.

ImageTuesday night, I went to the gym at 9pm, because that is when Parenthood comes on television. I like to sync my workout schedule with my TV schedule. This way, I can trick myself into wanting to walk miles without actually going anywhere. Reading is my favorite means of escape, but reading on a treadmill is impossible, right?

I tried it a few weeks ago, and failed miserably. I couldn’t walk in a straight line, I had trouble keeping the book open, and I felt like I was reading in a car that was going 90 mph. I looked like an idiot and thought I was going to be sick.

ImageThat is why I was completely amazed when I looked over to the girl next to me Tuesday night. She was reading Night by Elie Wiesel, and she didn’t fall off the treadmill. She may have even been walking faster than me. I was amazed.

Sadly, I did not ask her how she didn’t get nauseous or fall off, because that would have been awkward.

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As of now, I have given up on reading at the gym. However, if this is possible, time spent working out would be much more enjoyable. Maybe someday in the future, I will have enough talent and coordination to read a book while walking. Tonight I will leave my books at home and watch Grey’s Anatomy.

If anyone knows how to read at the gym without potentially falling off the equipment, please let me know how this is done.

Book Nerd at the Gym

The Casual Vacancy

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I know, I know. I’m becoming predictable. I swear, next week I won’t mention anything related to J.K. Rowling or Harry Potter. Also, this post isn’t quite what it seems. I’m not writing a book review, praising the book, or trashing it. After all, that would imply that I had actually read the book.

No, this entry is about my somewhat irrational fear. I can’t read The Casual Vacancy. I can’t even buy it. This isn’t because I spent entirely too much money on concert tickets, greatly diminishing my bank account. (However, that did happen.) I can’t buy my reserved copy of the book that is just sitting there on the shelf at Barnes & Noble, waiting for a home, because I don’t want to be disappointed.

It sounds silly. I’ve been anticipating the release of  The Casual Vacancy since before it was even announced. Now that I could actually read it, I simply can’t. I’m actually starting to freak myself out over this.

I’m pretty obsessive over things like this, so one part of me is saying, “Go buy the book right now! Read it! Finish it tonight!”

Another part of me, which is somehow the more dominant part of my brain is saying, “Don’t read it! The book won’t live up to your incredibly high expectations! It will destroy the way you view your favorite writer!”

I’m trying to hold back the obsessive part of my brain, and it’s giving me a headache. I normally have no choice but to give in, but I guess fear is a stronger emotion. I am terrified of this novel.

I should mention that I know The Casual Vacancy will be nothing like Harry Potter, and I am glad she went in a completely different direction with this book. I am simply afraid that I have imagined Rowling’s talents. What if she isn’t really as great as everyone thought?

I know that I will have to read the book eventually. Maybe I can somehow make myself read it without having unobtainable standards. Maybe it will somehow be better than I hope. I mean, she has had five years to grow as a writer since Deathly Hallows was released.

Or maybe my fears are justifiable.

If you’ve read the book, please take a moment to comment. Did The Casual Vacancy live up to your expectations?