Friday Links: Books as Writing Teachers

Happy Friday! Apologies for the lack of links last week. I was in San Diego for the RWA National Conference, and though I intended to post, my schedule kind of ran away with itself (and with me). It was a wonderful conference, so I only feel a little bad. But I’m back with an assortment of things to keep you reading and writing through the upcoming weekend, especially if — like me — you’re facing triple-digit temperatures for the duration. But I will say that if you feel the need to take a movie break along the way, I highly recommend the new Star Trek movie, which I saw last night and was terrific. I suspect I’ll be sneaking in a repeat viewing.

Now on to this week’s Friday Links. There’s a particular emphasis this week on improving your writing through reading widely and well. Wishing you all a lovely weekend filled with fun and inspiration, and hopefully some progress on your current WIP. Enjoy!

24 in 48 Readathon – My favorite readathon is taking place this weekend. For those of you who aren’t familiar, the idea is to read for 24 hours out of 48 between Saturday and Sunday. It’s low pressure, with people reading however much they can, with a bunch of fun social media activities and friendly sharing of book recs. There’s still time to sign up!

Do Writers Need to Be Alone to Thrive? – An interesting look at the benefits of solitude for a writing career.

What Our Editors Look for on an Opening Page – Some great insider tips from the folks at Penguin Random House.

15 Literary Magazines for New & Unpublished Writers – A list of markets for writers looking to break into publication.

Welcome to the Last Bookstore – A great short documentary featuring Josh Spencer, who owns and operates the iconic bookstore in downtown Los Angeles.

7 YA Books that Are as Good as a Writing Class – I’m not sure I’d go quite that far, but these titles will definitely illustrate some wonderful writing techniques if you read them closely, plus give you good insight into the recent YA market.

On the Journals of Famous Writers – Interesting look at the differences in writers’ journals and what can be gained by reading them.

 

Book Release Day: Rock Wedding by Nalini Singh

 

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Wishing a very happy book release day to Nalini Singh, whose newest title in the Rock Kiss series, ROCK WEDDING, comes out today.

New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh continues her Rock Kiss series with a hot, sweet, emotional contemporary romance about love and forgiveness…

After a lifetime of longing for a real family, Sarah Smith thought she’d finally found her home with rock star Abe Bellamy, even if she knew Abe didn’t love her the way she loved him. But their brief relationship, filled with tragedy and heartache, nearly destroyed her. Alone, emotions in turmoil, and already shaky self-esteem shattered, Sarah struggles to pick up the pieces in the wake of their divorce.

Abe knows he’s to blame for the end of his marriage. Caught in a web of painful memories, he pushed away the best thing in his life – the sexy, smart woman he adores – breaking them both in the process. Then fate throws him a second chance to get things right, to prove to Sarah that she means everything to him. Abe desperately wants that second chance at love…even if he knows he doesn’t deserve it.

But can he convince Sarah – now strong and independent without him – to risk her wounded heart one more time?

You can find ROCK WEDDING on sale now at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, and Kobo. Print copies are currently available for preorder, on sale July 22nd, and audio books are coming soon.

Conquering that Dreaded Synopsis

If there is a constant in this career, it’s the sound of authors complaining over the need to write a synopsis of their work. Sadly, this task will remain with you if you continue to write for publication, as there is always another novel to pitch/sell and a strong synopsis is part of your sales kit. So I’m delighted to say I’ll once again be teaching my Writer’s Digest webinar on how to write a synopsis, on Tuesday, August 2nd, 20016, at 1pm ET.

Conquer the Dreaded Synopsis aims to help you break down this often-daunting project and get the job done. Over the course of the 90-minute live webinar, you’ll learn what your synopsis should include, how to coax those details out of your much-longer manuscript, and how to polish them up so you can show off your writing skills even while selling your story. The webinar includes time for Q&A, and after it is over, you’ll have time to apply what you’ve learned, writing or revising a synopsis that you can then send me for critique. Complete details are available at the Writer’s Digest site.

I realize not everyone can make a live webinar in the middle of the day, but keep in mind that attendees receive access to all the materials — audio and visual — for a year after the class date, and only those who register ahead will be able to submit their synopsis for comments. So if you’re struggling with your synopsis and would like some feedback, consider taking the class, even if you won’t be able to join in for the live broadcast. Either way, I hope to see some of you in class!

Friday Links: Creative Outlets for Difficult Days

It’s been a tense week filled with terrible news, here in the U.S. The sort that makes you want to hold your loved ones a little closer and try to be a little kinder to everyone you meet, even as you wonder how there can be so much pointless hatred out there. I hope this week’s links provide a little distraction and maybe some inspiration. Creating something meaningful isn’t the worst way to try to combat the ugliness in the world. Of course, sometimes the world drains you of every creative impulse, in which case escaping into a good book can offer a brief respite, if that’s what you seek.

Wishing you all a safe, sane, enjoyable weekend.

On the Genius of Yuri Herrera’s Character Names – One translator looks at the meaning behind an author’s choices.

12 Bookstores Every Reader Should Visit in Their Lifetime – Some gorgeous photos to inspire your next book-related travel plans.

Why Setting a Historical Romance Outside of England Is Risky Business – The strange reality of sales figures in this particular sub-genre.

Modern Witches Are So Much More Than Just Mothers/Maidens/Crones – A look at more recent roles for this standard archetypal character.

The Great Second-Half 2016 Book Preview – A rundown of a huge number of highly anticipated titles due to release during the second half of the year. By no means exhaustive, but it has something to tempt just about everyone.

Life Behind the Stacks: The Secret Apartments of New York Libraries – A peek into the world of the former library caretakers of NYC.

10 Mistakes (Almost) Every Rookie Writer Makes: Part 2 – A continuation from the previous list, with some great tips to keep in mind.

Friday Links: Sparking Creative Whimsy

Happy Friday, everyone! It’s a holiday weekend here in the U.S., coming on the heels of another busy week. Thanks to everyone who came out and pitched during the Twitter Pitch Fest on Wednesday, and to everyone else who spread the word, cheered on the writers who were pitching, or was just generally excited during the event. We had a fabulous time and saw so many amazing pitches over the 8-hour window. I know we’re going to be busy reading for quite a while.

For those of you who didn’t hear about the pitch fest until too late, weren’t quite ready to pitch your manuscript, or couldn’t quite imagine pitching in 140 characters or less, please remember that The Knight Agency is open to general submissions, and we’re always happy to read your queries. Please check out our submission guidelines for complete details.

Now on to this week’s links! I’ve got a pretty broad assortment, including some whimsy in honor of the holiday. Whether you’re hanging out at the beach or poolside, picnicking or kicking back at home, I hope you all have a lovely time this weekend and manage to squeeze in a bit of personal creative time. Even if you set aside your writing project, take some photos or try your hand at sketching, bake something delicious or play in your garden. You’ll be surprised at what sorts of inspiration pop up when you’re occupied with other things. You might even generate some fresh ideas to help push your goals forward in this second half of the year. Enjoy!

All Stories Are the Same – On the constants of dramatic storytelling.

5 Writing Tips to Creating a Page Turner – Author Eileen Cook offers a great checklist for making sure you keep your reader hooked.

Habitually Chic: A Little Life – Bookshelf envy, which I share with you all. Scroll down to see author Hanya Yanagihara’s amazing book collection.

The Obsessively Detailed Map of American Literature’s Most Epic Road Trips – Fun for planning a summer road trip, even if it’s just of the armchair variety.

10 Lessons Learned from My First Grown-Up Writing Job – One writer shares some hard-earned knowledge.

OED Birthday Word Generator – Find out what word originated around the year you were born.

Putting Borges’ Infinite Library on the Internet – A look at how the concept behind Borges’ story about the Library of Babel translates to the web.

Twitter Pitch Fest with The Knight Agency!

Twitter_Logo_Hd_Png_01-300x237The Knight Agency celebrates 20 years in business in July, so to kick things off with a bang we’ve announced our first ever Twitter Pitch Fest. The pitch fest takes place tomorrow, June 29th, from 9am to 5pm Eastern Time under the hashtag #TKA20. You’re welcome to pitch us any genre that we as an agency represent, as long as you have not already submitted it to us through normal channels. TKA agents will “like” your Tweet to indicate interest. Full details, including how to follow up on agent interest, are available on TKA’s blog here.

I’m currently seeking projects in the following genres: Women’s fiction, single-title romance (including contemporary, historical, romantic suspense, paranormal), historical fiction, fantasy, science fiction, and young adult and middle grade fiction. In addition, I’ve updated my Wish List with some things I’d especially love to see.

We’re all very excited about this Twitter Pitch Fest, so I hope to see many of you out there participating!

Friday Links: Techniques and Toys for the Writer’s Toolbox

TGIF! Welcome to the end of yet another very weird week. My brain keeps turning over that old blessing/curse from Confucius: May you live in interesting times. For better or worse, I’d say recent weeks/months/years certainly count. But it’s Friday and I feel bruised and beaten up after a long few days of too much desk time, way too much coffee, and far too little sleep, so that’s about as much as I’m going to say on the social/political front today.

What I do have for you is a great collection of links for the week. Like last week, there’s a bit of a mishmash, but I feel many of them will help you load up your writer’s toolbox — both literally and figuratively — and to tackle your writing goals. But don’t worry, there’s plenty of reading goodness to distract you, too, if that’s where your mood is. Wishing you a wonderful weekend filled with all things word related. Enjoy!

The Mental Health Benefits of Writing, Backed by Science – In case you were worried that writing was driving you crazy.

Novels Bring World War II to Life for a New Generation – A look at the recent uptick in popularity of WWII-era novels for young adults.

Laptop Buying Guide for Writers – K. Tempest Bradford pulls together a few of her podcasts that talk laptop features and her recommendations specifically for writers.

Faerie-led: Thoughts on Writing Meaningful Fantasy – A thoughtful look at the genre.

Apple Begins Paying Out on Ebook Settlement – In case you haven’t heard, you might have some extra book money floating around.

Think You Couldn’t Possibly Lose Your Amazon Publishing Account? – Important read for self-pub/hybrid folks, but interesting for all.

A Map to Get Out of Writer’s Block – A very handy, helpful graphic, worth saving for future emergencies even if you always feel inspired and ready to write.

49 Underrated Books You Really Need to Read – Have read and loved a number of these, but better believe my TBR list just got longer.

New York Taught Me to Be a Better Listener – Interesting read. Note that this didn’t have to take place in New York, the author just happened to have her learning experience there.

Serial Reader app – Looking to squeeze some classics reading into your life? This free app sends you classics in short installments, a new 10-15 minutes’ worth of reading each day. Huge and growing collection of titles. So far just for iOS, but an Android version is in the works.

Goal Check: How’s Your Progress for 2016?

(c) Can Stock Photo/ Elwynn
(c) Can Stock Photo/ Elwynn

The mid-point of the year approaches, with July only ten days away, which makes it an excellent time to assess the goals you made for the year and see how things are coming along. So find your goal list, journal, computer file, or whatever you used at the start of 2016, and see where things stand.

If you’ve been following this blog, you’ve been checking in with your writing ambitions periodically all year, so you should have a pretty good sense of what you would like to achieve, what you have already accomplished, and what might need some tweaking based on life in general. That last one is an important one to remember. Your goals are your own, and only you know which are life-long ambitions set in stone, and which are things that feel more like stepping stones to other goals or perhaps even flights of fancy that struck you as interesting but may no longer work into your big picture. Your goals are malleable. Feel free to alter them if things have changed; add, subtract, change your priorities. Make your goal list work for you.

That doesn’t mean you should let a little frustration or discouragement chase you away from your dreams. Set backs happen, disappointment comes to everyone. Be honest with your assessment. What can you do differently? How can you approach things in a fresh or renewed way that might get you some forward movement with a particularly stubborn goal? Are you putting too much pressure or responsibility on yourself? Remember that sometimes you can only affect your own part of the equation, your efforts. The results might also hinge on someone else’s decisions or needs, so don’t beat yourself up if you’ve been doing your part and not seeing exactly the results you want. Just keep plugging away and have faith that your persistence will eventually get you where you want to go. And don’t forget to celebrate your successes! If you’ve checked off a goal, or made significant progress on something, give yourself a pat on the back in the form of a night out, a day off, a trip to the spa, or whatever will make you happy.

Don’t have a list of goals that you made for 2016? It’s never too late to start. Think about what you’d like to accomplish in the next six months regarding your writing, or any other aspect of your life, and set out some specific targets. Don’t just write down the goal, but add the system you need to put in place in order to achieve it. Want to write daily? Put reminders in your calendar. Have a deadline looming? Breakdown how much you need to write each week and make a point of checking on your progress as you go. It’s not enough to know what you want; you need to know the steps required to get there.

Whatever your goals — writing related, romantic, family-oriented, financial, or anything else — take a few moments to figure out where you are, and what you can do in the next half of 2016 to make your dreams come true. Wishing you luck and success in everything.

 

Friday Links: Recommitting to Your Writing Goals

Happy Friday, everyone! It has been a very long week — for a lot of people, I think — between the normal work fires to put out to the tragedy in Orlando and the overall tone on social media, which — while often productive and hopeful for positive change — has been pretty exhausting. A quiet few days and maybe a peaceful next week would be appreciated. Here’s hoping.

My plans for the weekend certainly lean toward the quiet. I intend to take a stab at my sadly overrun submissions pile, and then maybe curl up with a book with a cover. We’re looking at a hike in temperatures here in SoCal, so I’m laying in a supply of ice and beverages that require it.

Whatever you’re plotting and planning for your weekend, I’ve got some goodies for you to check out, both on the reading and writing fronts, and I hope they inspire you to greatness — whether that’s great creativity or great relaxing. Sometimes the best antidote for difficult times is to recommit your focus to your goals. So set aside time to write or read something that makes you think about your craft. Enjoy and happy weekend!

Nalini Singh Cover Reveal – If you wander by Nalini’s blog tonight (Friday) at 6pm ET, you’ll be among the first to see the cover for her latest Rock Kiss romance, ROCK WEDDING. The book will be available July 19th.

Litsy – If you follow me on Twitter, you may have witnessed me folding to the inevitable this week. I’ve joined Litsy, which is a fun newish app for iOS (sorry, Android people, I’m sure your version is on the way). I’ve heard it called a cross between Goodreads and Instagram. I’m now on there as Nephele, so check it out and come say hi.

Eight Excellent Literary Podcasts for Your Morning Commute – Or wherever you like to listen to podcasts.

11 of Our Most Anticipated Debuts of the Second Half of 2016 – The B&N Teen blog shares some great-sounding new YA titles on their way in the next few months.

Opportunities for Writers: July and August, 2016 – Contests, calls for submissions, etc. with deadlines in the next couple of months.

Zadie Smith on the Young Writer Who Teaches Her Everything – Very interesting, and a lovely example of how everyone should keep on learning.

11 Books to Kick Off Your Summer Travel – Titles that will inspire your summer vacation and make you itch to pack a bag.

Study Writing and War with Iowa’s International Writing Program – A free online class sponsored by the University of Iowa. Great for writers of historical fiction, or anyone writing about imaginary wars, be they future, fantasy, or whatever.