Top Ten Bookish Goals for 2013

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Top Ten Bookish Goals for 2013

My goals are a mix of “personal bookish accomplishments” as well as how many books I want to read and where I want to purchase my books.

1. Finish novel and begin querying in Fall 2013.
I’m writing a steampunk novel for my Masters thesis.  It’s a retelling of a classic piece of literature, and I’m having a total blast writing it.  I’m setting aside the entire months of June and July for revisions (summer vacation from teaching), and August is my deadline for completion!  Wish me luck!

2. Graduate with my Masters in Children’s Literature.
Once I have my Masters in hand, my goal is to find a job in Children’s Publishing.  I would love to work with middle grade or YA in an editorial or marketing role.  I’m currently exploring different avenues and entry level positions.

3. Post at least one book review a week.
My schedule for January has me posting two to three book reviews a week because I’m trying to catch up from my hiatus.  Reviews are slated in my posting schedule for Mondays, occasional Wednesdays, and Saturdays.  I’d love to keep up a two a week schedule, but as it’s tough for me to READ two books a week (with teaching middle school and writing my thesis), I didn’t think that was a realistic goal for me to maintain.

4. Read 12 debut novels.
Last year was my first year attempting the Debut Author Challenge.  I purchased 12 debut novels… but didn’t get around to reading 12 debut novels.  This year I’m setting a goal to post a “Debut Review” on the last day of every month.  This is a way of setting a deadline for myself, and I work well with deadlines (even the self-imposed kind).

5. Read 3 Newbery books and 3 Printz books.
I took a graduate course in Newbery books as well as heard a guest speaker who served on the Newbery committee.  It gave me a real understanding and sense of honor for these awards.  I’m always excited to hear what books are awarded medals each year, and I want to continue reading Newbery and Printz award winners each year (not just when I’m taking a class!)  I also enjoy trying to figure out why this book was chosen/selected versus other books, and identifying the winner’s merits.  I’m a total nerd!

6. Read 7 steampunk novels.
I am likely going to be doing an independent study in the Spring on steampunk, and therefore know I will be reading a bunch of it.  I also want to read what is out there in terms of YA steampunk so as to place my own novel in context.  Is it similar to what’s already been published?  What does it have to offer that’s new?  I have some theories, but I really need to read more in order to prove my assumptions correct.  Some books on my list: The Dark Unwinding by Sharon Cameron, The Friday Society by Adrienne Kress, Fever Crumb by Philip Reeve, and The Peculiar by Stefan Bachmann.

7. Read 3-5 contemporary novels.
This is a genre that I’m slowly growing to enjoy.  This year I read Anna and the French Kiss, Lola and the Boy Next Door, The Fault in Our Stars, and The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight (review forthcoming).  All of which I enjoyed, despite not being an avid contemporary reader.  This year I will undoubtedly be reading Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins, The Truth about Forever by Sarah Dessen, and Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry.  I’ll be watching for a few more contemporary reads to add as well.

8. Read 3-5 historical fiction novels.
This is a genre that I used to love.  I totally grew up on the American Girl series. (Felicity was my favorite.) I’d love to renew my love of historical fiction because lately I’ve been reading a lot of fantasy and science fiction.  I’ve heard great things about Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly and Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson.  But I’ll gladly take recommendations of great historical fiction.

9. Do majority of eBook purchasing from indie booksellers through Kobo.
I’m a little upset by what I’ve read about Amazon’s business practices and their interactions with publishers, authors, and booksellers.  Despite loving my Kindle Touch, I want to shift my book purchasing to support independent booksellers.  I got an iPad for Christmas and downloaded the Kobo app.  Through Kobo, I can purchase eBooks from my favorite indie stores, like Browseabout Books in Rehoboth, Delaware or Politics and Prose in Washington D.C.  I want to purchase eBooks from the stores that offer me great book events, opportunities to meet my favorite authors, and a great shopping experience.

10. Start novel #2.
I’m not even done with book one, and I’m already thinking ahead to book two!  That’s partially because book two was started before I even began book one.  But then there was the “Dystopian Boom” and I realized I had to figure out a way to make my dystopian trilogy different from all the others being offered.  I had a unique premise, but I needed a different ending.  Most dystopians end with either the protagonist running away from the dystopian society or rebelling against the dystopian society.  I wanted an ending that would be neither of those.  And I found one!  A fantastic twist!  I can’t wait to return to this project when I finish my steampunk novel.

Whew!  Does anyone else feel like they need to print out all their goals and resolutions and post them on the walls to keep them in sight?  I have a lot I want to get done this year!

What are your Bookish Goals?

A Major Dilemma: Where to get Books

Normally I do a “Behind the Story” post on Thursdays, but I think this is much more important.  Anyone who cares about books should read this article regarding the publishing industry: Publishing Ecosystem on the Brink: the Backstory.

I really do recommend reading the whole article (it’s not terribly long).  But it essentially discusses how Amazon has been bullying all booksellers (both Indie and chains) as well as publishers (both Indie and the Big Six).  It also details how Amazon becoming a monopoly would be a very bad thing for new authors.  (I also did a post earlier in the year when Borders closed and discussed why brick and mortar stores are important.)

I already felt confused regarding where to get my books, and now after reading this article, I just feel even more confused.

Here are my options when it comes to buying books:

Amazon via my Kindle: I adore my Kindle.  I’ve had one for three years now, and it’s convenience is unmatched.  But I obviously feel a huge sense of guilt for two reasons.  One, every time I buy an eBook, I’m taking money away from traditional book sale and traditional book stores.  Two, I now know that Amazon is a bully, and I don’t like bullies.  But I love my Kindle!  *super duper sad face*

Indie Bookstores: This is my favorite place to buy books because I know I’m supporting great people.  My favorite Indie Bookstore is Browseabout Books in Rehoboth, Delaware.  But I don’t live in Delaware, and I only go there maybe 5 times a year.  I always make a point of buying a stack of books when I’m in town, but it’s not local.  I’ve yet to find an Indie Bookstore in my area to frequent.  And then there’s the fact that Indie Bookstores may not always carry the book you’re looking for.

Barnes & Noble and Books-a-Million: These are the two chain bookstores that I have in my area.  I used to frequent Borders, and that was my favorite.  But obviously that is no longer an option.  BAM is cool.  I’m just getting to know them now that Borders is gone.  I was super impressed with how well stocked they were and bought a chunk of my Christmas gifts there.  I’ve never been as big a fan of B&N.  I frequently can’t find the books I’m looking for, and the store that’s near me is always crowded and terrible for browsing.  But now that I realize they are Amazon’s big contender and possibly the hope of brick and mortar book stores, I feel a lot of pressure to support them and do some of my purchasing there.  Then again, I also don’t have space in my tiny place to store tons of books… eBooks are more convenient.

The Library: Another fantastic option.  Libraries are fantastic.  Librarians are some seriously cool people.  And free books are a gift.  But popular books often have wait lists, and then there’s the whole date due back thing.  I can’t read books at my leisure.  And sometimes I want to own a book.

So when it all comes down to it, I feel like I’m being pulled in so many different directions when it comes to where I get my books.  
Do I go with what’s cheap?
Do I go with what’s easy?
Do I go with who I want to support?
Do I really have the strength (and wallet) to boycott Amazon?  I don’t know if I do.  I just got a new Kindle, and I love it.  And I’m just a poor teacher who makes diddly squat.

So complicated.  And I don’t think writing this post helped firm up any resolution on where to get my books.  But maybe it helped you?

Feel free to comment.  I’d love to discuss and hear your thoughts!

And feel free to share my post or the article!

New Kindle Touch

Two years ago, my big Christmas gift was a Kindle.  I still think paper books are great.  They smell good and have pretty covers and all.  But my Kindle is amazing.  I don’t have room to store loads of books.  Books are heavy to pack or travel with.  And the ease of downloading a book from the comfort of my couch in 60 seconds is pretty freaking awesome (especially when you finish a cliffhanger first book in a series and want to immediately start reading the next one).

I wish I’d started using Goodreads before I bought my Kindle, because it has a nifty feature that lets you keep track of how many books you’ve read in a single year.  (For 2011, I read 63 books!)  I wish I could see the difference in how many books I read post-Kindle versus pre-Kindle.  I am absolutely confident I read more now than I used to.  I carry my Kindle everywhere and read everywhere.  You’d be amazed at how often you find yourself waiting around and can get in 10-20 minutes of reading time.
So when Amazon announced a whole new line of Kindles before the holiday season… I was very tempted to upgrade.  And after reading reviews and doing my research, I asked my parents for the new Kindle Touch as my big Christmas gift this year.  (I did not get the Kindle Fire, which is more like a tablet because I read soooooo much and my eyes would feel the strain of a backlit screen.  E-ink is more eye-friendly if you’re doing a lot of reading.)
I am in love with my new Kindle Touch.
It is sleeker, smoother, and smaller than my old Kindle.  The touch screen makes navigation and note-taking so much easier.  I used to have to navigate a page using a little nubby joystick thing which was slow and imprecise.  The touch screen replaces this and makes interacting with the page (scrolling, highlighting, note-taking) so much simpler.  I have yet to encounter any glitches (and I’ve been playing with it quite a bit!).  It is a glorious, beautiful device.  Plus the new screensavers are super pretty!  
No more creepy Emily Dickinson!
Hello pretty close-up shots of typewriters!
If you’ve been thinking about buying an e-reader, do it.  Best thing I ever did.