Books Are For Lovers

A friend sent me an email yesterday linking me to an article in the New York Times called “The Bookstore’s Last Stand.” It’s talking about how Barnes and Noble is the last brick-and-mortar chain that readily has a large selection of books available for people to come in, browse, and buy. About how the Nook is a way that B&N has tried to compete with Amazon, and how the company is even starting a new line of stores where there is nothing but digital content for Nooks being sold. But the fact is, Amazon has lower prices, and even a big chain like Barnes & Noble is losing ground to them more and more every day. You all know what happened to Borders, after all..

The bookstore’s last stand, indeed.

I knew of course, that most of this was true before I even read the article, but it still hit me deeply. After all, I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was a little girl. I still hope to see my books out there someday, and yes, I hope to see them in print. That’s been my dream all along, not to see my book on a million digital screens, but to hold it in person, smell the pages and the ink and my own name right there on the cover.

Besides that, I love, love, love bookstores. I can spend hours in a bookstore, just looking at the spines of these lovely, literary friends and finding new authors and stories to delve into. Just being around stacks and shelves full of books makes me feel like I’m walking through a world of endless possibility. Because really, anything is possible in a book. And because I’ve spent my whole life loving books, I love everything about them—the design, the fonts used for the titles, and did I mention the smell of the pages? Oh, I did?

So I thought maybe we, as readers, should be taking a stand, too. It’s time we show our bookstores some love.

And hey… look at what time of year it is. It’s almost Valentine’s Day, the day meant especially for love. No matter how you feel about V-day, we all love books, right?

So here’s my proposition: If you’re a book lover, if you’re a supporter of the written word, if you’re an author or hope to be one someday—Buy a book on February 14th.

Really, it’s that simple. I know times are tough—they’re tough for me, too. I think it’s time we tell the book industry that we like having brick-and-mortars around, though.

So do this for me, will you? Go into a real bookstore. A brick-and-mortar. It doesn’t have to be Barnes & Noble—if you have an Indie bookseller nearby you, all the better! (No Indies near me, sadly!) Support the local selling of books in a hardformat. Even if you LOVE your Nook/Kindle/Kobo/whathaveyou.

If you absolutely have to buy online, buy through IndieBound (which will connect you to an Indie seller) or through BarnesandNoble.com. But really, I’d like for this to be about supporting brick-and-mortar stores, if we can.

(If you want more reasons not to buy through Amazon, if you can help it, here’s an article on how shopping at Amazon steals from your local economy. )

So how about we make this an official movement? How about we show some support to brick & mortars all around.

Just to be clear on this, this isn’t a competition or a contest. I’m getting nothing out of this. It’s simply an invitation to support your local brick-and-mortar bookstore! Don’t do it for me! Do it for them!

And hey, spread the word! Grab a graffic, blog, tweet! Use a #booksareforlovers hashtag! Let’s see if we can get this to be a worldwide thing!

What do you all think? Think we can do this? Are YOU willing to share some book love this Valentine’s Day?

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Edited to add: Now we have a facebook events page! Go sign up and invite your friends!

Rampant by Diana Peterfreund

Think unicorns are white and fluffy and gentle creatures? Well, think again. In Diana Peterfreund’s Rampant, unicorns are vicious killer monsters that can only be taken down by virginal maiden descendents of Alexander the Great. Mmmhmm.

This book is a lot of fun. Okay, killer unicorns sound a little ridiculous at first—okay, a lot ridiculous—but Peterfreund finds threads of legends throughout history and weaves them together with a lot of imagination and thoroughness and makes a formidable mythology that stands on its own.

The main character, Astrid, took some time getting there, but by the end of the book she was a seriously formidable character. And isn’t that what a coming-of-age story is all about, the journey?

Things I love about this book:

1) Phil. Astrid’s cousin is awesome from the very beginning. She knows what she wants and speaks up about it, even after something potentially soul-crushing happens to her.

2) Bonegrinder. Bonegrinder is a zhi (pronounced “g”), a little goat-like unicorn—she’s vicious of her own account, but she grows on you.

3) The Boy. He’s pitter-pat worthy. And I do mean worthy.

4) Astrid. It took me a while, like I said, but I honestly loved her by the end of the book and was cheering her every step of the way.

5) Cory. I love her development throughout the book.

What I didn’t like was that a couple of the other hunters were a little hard to distinguish from one another. They were introduced well, but got lost in the hussle. This was forgivable, however, in that overall they were seriously awesome.

All in all, though, I thought the book was wonderful. It really earned its ending and I’m looking forward to reading the second book, Ascendant.

Five Things Friday: Five Awesome Things About NiNoCon

What are your plans for next Saturday? Have you heard of NiNoCon? Or of writing ninjas? Did you know that there are writing ninjas that will have a writer’s conference on February 4th? It’s going to be seriously awesome, and here are five reasons why:

1) THIS CONFERENCE IS FREE. There is absolutely no cost to participate!

2) THIS CONFERENCE IS ONLINE. Have trouble getting to writer’s conferences because you live in the elbow of the middle of nowhere? As long as you have an internet connection, this conference is for you! And hey, you can show up in your PJ’s and your curlers, we won’t tell. (We won’t even know!)

3) THIS CONFERENCE IS INNOVATIVE. The publishing world is changing, and this conference is going to teach you all the hows and whys of “nontraditional” ways of publishing. If you’re even considering self-publishing, this conference is for you.

4) THIS CONFERENCE HAS CREDENTIALS. There is a panel of experts and and authors who will be available for you to pick their brains on all things writerly, bloggerly, or self-publishy. Thy all want to help YOU. For free! That’s how awesome this conference is.

5) THIS CONFERENCE HAS PRIZES. Oh, did I mention? There are going to be giveaways. How do I know this? Well, because I’m donating one! A full-manuscript edit from Type Set, Inc is going to go to one lucky participant.

So mark your calenders, ladies and gents! There’s no need to pre-register for this event, just head over to www.ninjaswrite.com. The more the merrier!

Booking Through Thursday: Writing or Riveting?

What’s more important: Good writing? Or a good story?

(Of course, a book should have BOTH, but…)

Just a short answer for me today, but I guess I prefer good writing. I can be thrown from a really good story if the writing is awful, but often I’ll pace myself through a slower-plotted book if the writing is gorgeous or the characters are really addictive. If the plot is mind-blowingly brilliant but the character is dumb as a post, I’ll still read the book, but I might walk away with a sour taste in my mouth.

Linger by Maggie Steifvater

Sometimes life gets in the way of even the books you want to read most. That’s what happened for me for Linger. Between getting married, getting used to being married,  moving three times, and general life? Well, I didn’t finish many books at all in the past year and a half.

But anyhow.

As a start, here’s my review of Shiver, the first novel in the Wolves of Mercy Falls series.

I loved Shiver, and reread it before starting this. What’s really fabulous about these books is the voice and the fact that Sam’s is so poetic, while Grace’s is very fact for fact—just like the characters themselves.

I have to admit, I was less enthralled both by my reread of Shiver and by a lot of Linger than I was the first time I read Shiver. But I blame this more on the timing of my reading it (I’d been reading a lot of whiny YA, and while Stiefvater’s angst is, as I said, much more poetic than the usual fare, it is still teenage angst).

A lot of what made this book slower than the first is that there is a lot of waiting in this book. The characters are waiting for a chance to be together because they’re separated by Grace’s suddenly-proactive parents, and a sudden sickness.

Meanwhile, we’re being thrown into the heads of Isabel and a new character Cole, and neither head is a particularly friendly place. Of course, I knew that going in… and I already loved Isabel, unlike some. From what I knew about Cole (read: that he had a massive fanbase) I knew he’d probably win me over… but oh, he takes some time.

This really is two stories woven into one by circumstance—Sam and Grace’s story, and Cole’s story, with Isabel commentating on both.

The end of this book makes everything worth it, though. The whole thing slips together beautifully—and Cole’s turning a new leaf of the redemption flavor is just as winning as it should be, mainly because it’s clearly the just the beginning of something.

Glad to say I already have Forever waiting in the wings. Hoping it’s a strong ending. With Maggie Stiefvater, I’m not too worried.

 

Tuesday Talk: The Art of the Possible

- G.K. Chesterton

My title comes from a song in Evita, which calls “politics” the art of the possible. I think writing is really the art of the possible, though. Even if we like to slip into impossible once in a while. Because really, we deal in possibility. If _______ happens, what could possibly be the result?

What would it be like if an elven-year-old boy got a letter saying he was really a wizard? If a teenage girl saw her younger sister picked to fight to the death? If a boy turned into a wolf when the weather got cold?

Maybe these things aren’t likely to happen—but that’s not the point. The point is, in order for fiction to work, the reaction has to be real. The consequences have to ring true. Every character, every place, every society has to have an echo of truth to it, or it will not read as true. It will not hit home for the reader with the force that it’s supposed to. Science fiction has to be based on science. Fiction has to be based on fact.

Now, I’m not saying that all books have to be autobiographical, of course, but that people can tell the difference between something a writer understands, and something they’re just hoping will sound good. Someone who’s experienced pain and loss can tell if your character is really feeling pain and loss, or if you’re just hoping they’ll take your word for it. Someone who’s fallen head-over-heels in love will know if the connection between your main characters is there, or if you’re only hoping that it is.

There’s a reason why people say write what you know, and a reason why they say that writing is like opening a vein—people want stories that feel lived, because each of your readers have lived, and they want to feel like your book is another life they can slip into. Whether that new life is something familiar to them or something they can only dream about doesn’t really matter. It just has to feel possible.

Does your book offer that?

Music Monday: Somedays by Regina Spektor

“Somedays” by Regina Spektor

Background: I love Regina. I really, really do.

Favorite Line: “They’re so much stronger than the friends you try to keep/by your side.”

My song history: I found this when I was immersing myself in as much Regina Spektor as I could lay my ears on, and this is one that kept coming back to mind.

What drew me in: I love this idea that a day can work outside of you and against you. That some days “come and go like someone else’s days/They come and leave you behind someone else’s face/And it’s harsher than yours.” That last bit is SO key for me. Because you know it’s true… there are days when you say things and you react sharply to other people, and you know it’s not you, but you couldn’t stop yourself in the moment.

For my writing: This song is for my dear Savannah. She’s a character in Jethro that I know a lot of people won’t like. She’s gorgeous, untouchable, and she rules Jethro High with an iron will. But Savannah is also vulnerable. She’s been hiding behind the mask of perfection so long that when things start to get out of control she just about loses it, and she tries her best to make enemies of the very people that should have her back—she just can’t feel comfortable with the fact that they also know all her secrets.