I wanted to buy flannel sheets today.

 

 

I wanted to buy girly, floral, flannel sheets, and matching red velvet throw pillows. I wanted to know what it was like to sleep inside those warm cotton covers, while outside, the world was capturing frost and decorating everything in a sheen of not-quite-ice. I wanted to wake up covered in velvet fuzz.

 

 

But what if they were too warm? What if I woke up drenched in sweat, wishing I’d never taken those sheets out of their packaging and stretched them tight onto the bed? Would I regret buying those red velvet pillows, only looking at them briefly each morning to place them back where I imagined they should belong, tossing them to the floor each night before crawling into bed?

 

 

What about all of the other sheets nested in my hall closet? I have too many already.

 

 

Maybe I’ll just buy a new pair of mittens.

 

 

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diet

 

Over at the YA Buccaneers today, I’m talking about writing diets. No, it’s not about writing less, but about using your time more effectively.

 

 

Keep a writing diary for two weeks, especially leading up to NaNoWriMo, and see just how you’re doing. Family interruptions? Too much Twitter time? Find out where you’re going wrong just in time for the big November push.

 

 

I write my first drafts on a laptop that doesn’t even have a modem, let alone wi-fi access (was there even wi-fi when I got it?). I know!  But it keeps me from getting distracted every few seconds to check my email, or see what’s happening on Facebook. It’s not perfect—I still have my cell phone handy—-but it makes for solid writing times, which is a good strategy for me.

 

 

Stop over to the YA Buccaneers to download a simple spreadsheet and work page to track your progress.

 

 

How healthy is your writing diet?

 

 

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YA websites

 

 

First of all, I don’t own boots like that, but I kinda wish I did. Owning boots like that would make me want to go out and hike up a mountain. Or pretend I hike up mountains. I don’t hike anywhere….

 

 

Last month, I told you about Literary Rambles in my first YA Walkabout. There were so many great links on that site that I found it crazy difficult to find just one to follow this month. But I ended up choosing an author I haven’t read yet, but will certainly pick up now that I know about her. Let’s go visit Leah Bobet this month!

 

 

above-187x300

 

 

Bobet is a Canadian author who writes literary science fiction and fantasy. Look at that gorgeous cover for her book, ABOVE, well…above. (Yes, it’s the CN Tower! Love it.) The premise?

 

 

Matthew’s father had lion’s feet and his mother had gills, and both fled the modern-day city to live in underground Safe, a secret community of freaks, ghost-whisperers, and disabled outcasts hidden beyond the subways and sewers. Raised underground, Matthew is responsible for the keeping of both Safe’s histories and the traumatized shapeshifter Ariel, the girl he took in, fell in love with – and can’t stop from constantly running away.

 

 

But Safe is no longer safe: the night after a frightening encounter in the sewers, Safe’s founder Atticus is murdered by the one person Safe ever exiled: mad Corner, whose coup is backed by an army of mindless, whispering shadows.

 

 

Only Matthew, Ariel, and a handful of unstable, crippled compatriots escape to the city that cast them out; the dangerous place he knows only as Above. Despite Ariel’s increasingly erratic behaviour and with the odds against them, Matthew must find a way to rescue Safe from Corner’s occupying army. But as his quest leads him through abandoned asylums and the dregs of urban poverty, Matthew discovers that the histories he’s devoted his life to aren’t true: Corner’s invasion — and Ariel’s terrors – are rooted in a history of Safe much darker and bloodier than Matthew ever imagined.

 

 

And even if he manages to save both home and Ariel, he may well lose himself.

 

 

Wow. Bobet thought she would become a musician as she headed out of high school, but her love of music wasn’t enough for her to really excel in that format (kudos to her for being so honest with herself), and she turned back to her love of writing. She is also a poet, and credits her love of music and the rhythmic sense of poetry to guiding her toward a very distinct voice. Don’t you love that? Always read your work out loud…I tell all of my writers at the library this regularly.  It sounds very different out loud than it does inside your head.

 

 

Take a few minutes to go through her site. Her list of short fiction is impressive, and I’m thinking I’ll have to take in one of her appearances if I’m ever in TO when she’s speaking. You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter, too, so head on over and check her out.

 

 

Where will we go next time? Wait and see…..

 

 

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bees

 

 

A book about bees. Bees, people. It almost made me feel something nice toward these buzzing, stinging little creatures. Almost……..

 

 

I started this audiobook a while back, but ended up waiting to listen to it this fall due to a busy schedule. (I was busy as a bee! Ha!)  Okay, but seriously, I wanted to read this book the minute it came out, after reading about it on a “HOT” list earlier this year. It was compared to WATERSHIP DOWN, the bees anthropomorphized into a wildly fascinating dystopian world.

 

 

Laline Paull is a solid writer. She makes the world of bees into something elegant and proud, and yet fierce and unforgiving. Paull tells the story of Flora 717, an exceptional bee born as a sanitation worker who swiftly breaks the cardinal rules of the hive to delve into a variety of positions within the community of bees.  We learn a great deal about the workings of a hive, which is fascinating in so many ways. Somehow, Paull manages to make the various types of bees and their jobs seem regal, sometimes dangerous, and many times, enviable.

 

 

We get the feeling early on that Flora 717 is not only special because she can speak, but her eventual sins against the hive will leave you cheering for this little female who wants nothing more than to be her own bee. This is a very female-centric book…as is the nature of a hive…focusing on the rule of the Queen Bee, the nature of birth in a hive, and the struggle for survival in a world where every creature is just a number. Men, beware. Paull depicts each male bee in ways that will make you loathe every single one of them, and not simply because they are bees. We get the feeling that the females only tolerate the males within the hive because they serve a certain purpose, but would turn on them at any opportunity (and do, with very gruesome results).

 

 

Is this simply a depiction of some sort of Utopian society gone bad?  Or a look at the breakdown of our own world? On the surface, it is a cruel place for most of the inhabitants, restrictive and lacking of any individualism. But a deeper look shows many comparisons to our own world,  and the structures we follow in our society. We can only hope Flora 717 is inspiration for those who believe in themselves, and who want to make change.

 

 

If you’re looking for a very differenyt type of book, THE BEES is one to pick up. I don’t think I’ll ever look at any bird, bug or furry animal ever again without thinking of the possibilities of their lives.

 

 

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While I’m working on a project, I don’t like to read YA books. I feel like it plays with my voice and character development too much. So, I’ve been staying away from that for a bit, while diving into some the new fiction out there, such as CALIFORNIA by Edan Lepucki, and THE BONE CLOCKS by David Mitchell.

 

 

California

 

 

I was drawn to the cover of Lepucki’s book first off. Can a cover really influence what you think about the book? I say it can. The sideways trees here were a bit deceiving at first; I didn’t really know what I was looking at until I turned the book (and then it was obvious, I know).  But the sideways photo isn’t just a gimick to get people to pick up the book. It represents the bizarre way of life taking place in this book.

 

 

It’s the first post-apocalyptic/dystopian adult read for me, and while I’ve read my fair share of YA and have become slightly tired of it, this was a fresh and interesting take on the idea of the breakdown of society.  We never really learn why everything went off the rails, although we must assume it is a result of our own doing (environmental issues etc.). Instead, we are thrown right into the lives of Cal and Frida who have been living in a shed away from society for several years.

 

 

It’s a difficult life, but one that both seem to have adpated to over time. Except now there’s a problem—Frida becomes pregnant, and suddenly, there is a desperation in their lives not present before. Couple this with the fact that they discover an even more shocking secret only a few miles away, and the book is frought with tension.

 

 

I really enjoyed the pace of this book. It dealt with the hardships of the life, and the current world problems in ways that were very different than most YA distopian fiction. There weren’t battles and chases and explosions and people running for their lives, but the tension built throughout the book deeper than most YA fiction in this style. I loved Lepucki’s subtle insight into both characters as she worked back and forth between each character, and their reactions to the sudden changes in their lives. It was all about them, not about their surroundings and the world trying to hurt them—it was more about how they reacted to the world based on their separate histories.

 

 

I’m sure I’ll be thinking about this book for a while, and I hope some of the subtleties rub off in my own writing.

 

 

Now, on to THE BONE CLOCKS, and I must say…it grabbed me in the first sentence! VOICE!!!!!  So, if you haven’t read anything other than YA in a while, get out there and grab up a book….any book, and see what it’ll do for your writing!

 

 

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