Font Snob

WARNING: If you are easily offended by the unfavorable discussion of various fonts, and would prefer not to see insults slung about different types of fonts, please be mindful that no actual offense is intentional on my part, and this post is purely my opinion.

When the person in charge of formatting my novel asked me to choose which font I wanted to use for the final version, I came to a realization.

I am a font snob.

Now, when it comes to handwriting, I have absolutely zero room to criticize. My handwriting looks like the scrawl of a child using their non-dominant hand. In fact, I don’t think my handwriting has changed significantly since I was in kindergarten; it just got smaller. If my handwriting were to become a font, known as the Frosty font (no, I’ve never once thought this out, I assure you…) it would be near illegible and extremely hideous. However, I don’t mess around with fonts.

Thankfully, when it came to my novel, I was presented with two choices; garamond and caslon. Both excellent fonts, if you ask me. Classy, smooth, readable, pleasing to the eye. I went with caslon, but only after conducting a facebook poll to see which one my friends/family preferred, because really, is there any other way to make a decision these days?

Honestly, I think there are a few fonts that most folks can universally agree are pretty vile. Comic sans is only okay when used ironically. Wingdings (versions 1-3) is complete nonsense. I can think of literally no occasion where papyrus is appropriate unless you are actually scribbling a message on a papyrus scroll to send to a pharaoh or whatever. Jokerman? It’s a joke, man.

But my gripes exceed the typical. First of all, do not even get me started on calibri. I am anti all default fonts; it’s the first thing I change when I open up a fresh document. I don’t even like Times New Roman, THERE I SAID IT. Arial is awful to look at, as are any and all perma-bold fonts, like Impact. I think any font meant to emulate the appearance of handwriting or cursive, like freestyle or mistral, can burn in eternal fire.

Essentially, I can narrow down my favorite fonts to a select few. The true elites. The fonts that combine all the requirements necessary for a good reading and writing experience; readability, pleasing aesthetic, smoothness, among others.

Georgia is a good, solid font, as is Verdana. They are reliable — the fonts you can call when your car breaks down on the highway and no matter what time, day or night, they will come and assist you. Or they’ll call AAA, whichever. Century is underrated, but another fine choice — it’s kind of basic, like a default font, but it has a little bit of a flair to it, which makes it distinct. Sylfaen is much the same. It’s kind of a unicorn font; not common, a bit mystical, and a visual stunner. Tahoma is a borderline font and I go back and forth with it, but I know it would serve as an effective lifeboat on a sea of comic sans and papyrus.

Now, my personal favorite, the font of all fonts, is Book Antiqua. I used to type all homework assignments and still type all of my drafts in Book Antiqua, then swap it to TNR when I send them off. To me, it is the god of fonts. The chosen font. The Neo of fonts.

I know, I know. Book Antiqua looks boring. And maybe it is. But when it comes to fonts, you really don’t want flashy, loud, or distracting, except in specific cases where the font is mean to look a certain way. Writing is supposed to be about the content of the writing, not what the words look like. Imagine if Hemingway had written The Old Man and the Sea in pristina. You’d barely be able to read it! You’d never know if he catches the fish or not!

Choosing a font is difficult because there are so many factors to consider, but really, it all boils down to what should be the most important thing; the writing itself. A lot of fonts may look cool and edgy, but that’s not what the focus should be on. So maybe I’m a little old-fashioned and overly picky (seriously, keep arial AWAY FROM ME) but honestly, I pick my fonts based on what I believe looks good and flows well across a page.

Though I do wonder if anyone else feels the way I do about fonts… or maybe it’s just me?Maybe I’ll even type my next draft in Jokerman. Who knows? (Spoiler: I won’t)

 

I’m With You

Back in 2011, I sat down at my computer and started to write.

The seeds were planted years before, while I was still in high school. Ideas took root inside my head– vague forms and muddled shapes, random names and snapshot images — but they did not receive the nourishment or sustenance required to thrive. So they stayed in my head, swirling and tumbling around, some fading away, others grabbing hold.

Finally, when I sat down in my god-awful pink computer chair and set my fingers on the keyboard one afternoon in 2011, I decided to let it all out. Fridays became my “writing days,” so when classes ended for the day, I planted myself in my “office,” (actually a little nook in the kitchen) and wrote as much as I wanted, often for hours on end.

Completing I’m With You has been a long process — two years, in between classes and two jobs. Once I’d finished it, I let it sit on my computer, untouched, for over a year. I’ve wanted to write books since junior high, when I realized I was too squeamish to be a veterinarian, but I just… never thought to submit the manuscript anywhere. I did look up publishing sources on occasion, but every resource I looked at seemed so discouraging. It seemed impossible to achieve, and that, coupled with a post-graduation slump, didn’t do much for my confidence. Instead of trying to make my dream happen, I thought, “Why bother?” and didn’t even try for fear of failure.

Then, I googled “self-publishing” on a whim one evening in late 2014 and stumbled across the website for Dragon Tree Books and a link for their Indie Genius contest, which included a publishing package. I scanned the details, realized that I had a few days until the deadline, and let the idea roll around in my noggin for a few hours. “Why bother?” became, “Why not?” I blew the dust off of I’m With You and spruced it up a bit.

I sent it in. And it won.

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The cover! (art by Elijah Meyer)

I’m With You has spent almost two additional years going through the editing process and getting whipped into shape, thanks to a lot of helpful hands from the folks at Dragon Tree Books, especially Jon, who fielded my many emails and was extremely helpful with the production side of the publication process, Elijah, who did the awesome cover-art and formatting, and Erica, my insightful editor who made suggestions on how to improve my work that I never would have noticed without her steering me in the right direction. When I had questions, they had answers. I thought self-publishing meant going through the process alone, trying to slog through all the details solo, but this very much felt like a team effort, and I’m With You is only out there now because of the help I had along the way.

Character names have changed, plot points clarified, and scenes taken out, added, and completely swapped around, but the core of I’m With You has stayed the same since I first started typing it up in 2011. It’s a YA novel about family, friendship, perseverance, and overcoming loss, and I’m thrilled to have it finally in print!

You can buy I’m With Youhere! (Amazon) and here! (Barnes and Noble)

E-book version coming extremely soon, it is still processing.

More links to follow, and more info available on my Published Works page!

 

 

 

Top 10 Books and Films 2015 Edition!

This year, I kept a tally of how many books I read and how many films I saw in theaters, as I was curious to know what the totals would be. With a few days of 2015 left, my goal of reading 100 books has been completed and I have seen a total of 21 films in theaters… 22 if you count the second time I saw The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies. Though I would love to write in-depth reviews of each book/series I read and each film I saw, for time purposes, I thought that I would just list my top ten favorites and a few reasons in each category instead. Here we go! I’ll try and avoid spoilers!

Top 10 Books / Book Series (in no particular order)!

10.) The School for Good and Evil Series by Soman Chainani
A fun series that puts a new spin on fairy tales with familiar characters written in a new fashion and fresh characters with very distinct personalities. The books present unique ideas on love and friendship, interesting plot-lines, and a lot of wit.

9.) Grisha Series by Leigh Bardugo
The compelling world and intriguing characters introduced in the Grisha series kept me turning the pages. Magic, romance, and a grim, yet hopeful storyline. Definitely can’t decide which book of the three is my favorite, but they were all equally memorable, action-packed and unpredictable. Easily one of the best YA series I’ve ever read.

8.) Starcrossed Series by Josephine Angelini
I went into these books not knowing what to expect, and was really surprised – it’s a new spin on mythology (Helen of Troy, Paris, Trojan War stuff, Greek gods, etc), with sharp writing, excellent dialogue, and great characters. A new interpretation of old formulas, and a refreshing read.

7.) The Martian by Andy Weir
I read this book because I was compelled by the film trailer, and let me just say, it was really nice to read a novel about space travel and exploration that wasn’t totally grim and depressing. Really funny, great characters, and I read the last quarter of it in a straight shot because I could not wait to find out what was going to happen.

6.) For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund
A wonderful blend of sci-fi and classic, gothic-esque romantic literature. I really loved the style, the characters, and the plot, since it blended two genres that I am a huge fan of. It was a sit-down and read it all in one day kind of book. I got drawn in from the first page and was immersed all the way to the last.

5.) The Jewel and The White Rose by Amy Ewing
This was one of those “Hm, I think I’ll pick this up” deals on my Nook, and I am super glad I did. A semi-dystopian YA novel with an original premise (at least, one I’ve never seen before) about surrogacy, of all things, I was totally drawn in by the plot and when The White Rose came out this October, I sat down and read it all at once. Great read.

4.) Winter by Marissa Meyer
I read the first three novels in the Lunar Chronicles last year, but this is easily one of my favorite YA series of all time. Futuristic interpretations of fairy tales, with new ideas, a lot of action, memorable characters, and an engaging plot. Winter delivered as a fitting, and fulfilling finale to a marvelous series that I will certainly reread someday.

3.) Graceling by Kristin Cashore
This was one of those books that drew me in with the writing style, then kept me in with an intriguing plot. I loved the world-building, the descriptions of the characters, and the original, but easy-to-follow ideas presented in the novel. A great read, all in all.

2.) Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Long story short, I am a fangirl. This book hit me on so, so many levels.

1.) An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
Action packed, with equally interesting dual-protagonists, a lot of suspense, a terrifying, but exciting world, and  excellent writing. My jaw went slack several times while reading, and I definitely stayed on the treadmill several minutes longer while I was reading it at the gym. Definitely looking forward to whatever comes next for the characters and the world that Tahir has created.

Top 10 Movies (in order from least fave to most)!

10.) Ant-Man (honorable mention: Avengers: Age of Ultron)
Ant-Man was a surprising film for me. Typical Marvel action but with a different, more humor-based flair that makes it stand out from some of the grittier, darker titles in recent years. The IMAX 3D was pretty neat, and I still laugh out loud whenever I think of the huge Thomas the Tank Engine scene. (While I loved Age of Ultron, it didn’t quite live up to predecessors, nor the hype surrounding it…but these two were close.)

9.) The Martian
I saw the film about a week after I finished reading the book and was not disappointed in the least! Matt Damon captured the brilliant humor of Mark Watney, and though some elements were lost in the book-to-screen transition, the film certainly kept the hopeful spirit of the novel and all in all, served as a worthy adaptation in my opinion.

8.) Man From U.N.C.L.E.
My dad is a big fan of the show, and I probably wouldn’t have seen this movie if he hadn’t wanted to go. But I’m glad I did, because it didn’t disappoint. Lots of action, humor, and great characters who are definitely easy on the eyes. Plus, the sandwich eating / boat chase scene had me laughing for quite a while.

7.) Everest
Basically, don’t go into this movie expecting warm fuzzies and happy rainbows. I didn’t know anything about the 1996 Everest disaster going into it (at least, no specific details, like the death count and all that) so I left the theater a little red-eyed and sniffly. But seeing it in IMAX was quite the ride. It also convinced me to never, ever climb a mountain. Ever. I’m even leery of hills, now.

6.) The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies
Flawed though it may be, it was a fitting conclusion to Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit series and a last goodbye to Middle Earth in cinema. Also, a really stunning IMAX experience. Excellent performances by the cast and a real treat for the non-purist Tolkien fans like myself who don’t mind a few changes here and there. Fili and Kili are still my lock-screen wallpaper.

5.) Crimson Peak
Stylistically and visually, Crimson Peak was absolutely stunning. The costumes, the sets, the music, the dialogue… everything set the mood of the film. The plot was a bit predictable, and it’s more of a gothic romance than a “horror” film, so if you go into it expecting cheap scares and gore, you will be disappointed. But the ghosts are still super freaky, the suspense is well done, and it was a really great cinematic experience. Also, I just really enjoyed it. And Jessica Chastain is terrifying.

4.) Jurassic World
Dinosaurs. Chris Pratt. Enough said.

3.) Cinderella
I have a soft spot for fairy tales and princess stories, and I thought this reinvention of Cinderella did a great job paying tribute to the source material, while adding plenty of new material and magic. I loved the music, the acting, the sets and costumes, and even though it’s telling an old story that we’ve heard a thousand times, it does it in a new, fresh way, with plenty of classic charm.

2.) The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2
I went in expecting a dark, grim, depressing film that remains true to the source material and invokes the circumstances of war, and that is exactly what I experienced. Pretty impactful for fans of  both the films and the novels, who now get to see their favorite characters die and suffer  onscreen (Yay…*sob*), and all in all, a fitting conclusion to the series.

1.) Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens 
I teared up the instant the famous theme started playing and “Star Wars” appeared on the screen. I wasn’t alive when Star Wars / A New Hope was released, but have grown to love (most of) the films over the years. The newest Star Wars installment is hands-down my favorite film of the year. A fitting tribute to the original films, with familiar faces, music, sounds, and props, coupled with plenty of new, compelling characters, places, and material, the film is a true continuation, not a total overhaul, to satisfy fans new and old. It doesn’t stomp on the source material, it celebrates it, and pays homage – all the way back to the title sequence and the old-school transitions. There was laughter, tears, more laughter, MORE TEARS, and so much action packed into the film that I know I need to see it again just to make sure I didn’t miss anything, and I can’t wait for the series to continue with Episode VIII.
Also, I may have cried at the end when a certain character appeared. No spoilers, but DAMN. The feels were real.

My Precious

I’ve been a devoted e-book reader since 2013.

Prior to this, I was a devout anti-e-book-reader and pro-regular book reader. I thought that e-books were an abomination, defiling the sanctity and purity of traditional paper books. I just didn’t understand the reasoning behind e-readers and e-books. How can anybody read a book that doesn’t have that wonderful new book smell when you crack open the pages?

My stubborn-ness faded after a while, in large part due to my extensive book list for my last year of college work (mostly high-level English classes with several novels assigned to each) which would have resulted in severe back issues if I’d had to tote all those books around. So, I surrendered and bought a Nook from my local Barnes&Noble with the generous amount of gift cards I receive every year at Christmas. My back and spindly arms thanked me for the decision, as I was able to buy a good number of my textbooks in e-book format. Really, an e-reader saved my life during my last year of college, and though my classes are now long over, I still love my Nook. I recently upgraded to a newer version, and I love my new one even more. It’s my precioussssss. I feel like each time I hold it, I have a world of endless literary possibilities in my hand.

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My precious Nook.

Since I purchased my Nook, I have developed a mentality of “Why not both?” One can love traditional paper books, while still appreciating the ease and simplicity of an e-reader. I’m a bit of a technophile; I don’t always understand new technology, but I sure do love it and appreciate it. If it’s shiny and it beeps, I’m a fan. As long as the plot of George Orwell’s 1984 doesn’t start to take place in reality, then I’ll remain a staunch supporter of technology, so really, my eventual conversion to E-readers is not much of a surprise.

So, if you are a book purist like pre-2013 me, and cannot fathom replacing lovely, traditional paper books, with their smell and their unique feel, just know…. there is a balance to be had. There are some books I prefer in their paper form, like comic books and graphic novels. But the convenience of an E-reader certainly worked wonders for me, and books don’t lose their magic just because they’re being read in a different form. I have read 98 books so far this year, since it’s much easier to carry my E-reader around and read at the gym without having to keep pages open while trying to work out on the treadmill or elliptical. And it has the internet. I love the internet.

The age of paper books is still ongoing, but e-books are coming on strong, and giving in to them is not like losing a battle. It’s more like forming a peace treaty, between two valid forms of what is essentially the same media. Do not sneer at e-books, just because they are the new kids on the block and different from what you know. Instead, welcome them with open arms, because it’s certainly possible for all books to co-exist in harmony, especially if it helps to expand literature and gives greater access to books for readers of all kinds.