Friday Links: New Year Booklists

New year booklists are one of my favorite things about January. If December brings lists of the best books of the previous year, the new year’s lists focus entirely on anticipation. These lists give me something to look forward to, rather than reminding me of what I wish I had a chance to read already. So this week’s Friday Links offer up lists of a ton of great books coming out in the months ahead. Be warned: your to-be-read lists might explode as a result. Mine certainly looks unreasonably long, as there are some fabulous sounding titles on the horizon. I’ve tried to include a good mix of genres and so on, and of course not every link leads to book recommendations. But there are a lot of new year booklists out there. I hope these will be sufficient to inspire you.

New Year Booklists: Piles of books to read in 2019

No Time to Read

I also want to point out that, for those of you hoping to read more books this year, the upcoming 24 in 48 Readathon provides a great chance to get a jump start on that TBR. It takes place the weekend of January 26th and 27th, and the idea is to read for 24 hours out of a 48-hour period. It’s the sort of readathon that encourages you to get some sleep, go for a walk, and live your life, even as you put in some serious reading hours. You’re also free to join in for fewer hours if you’d rather, or if you have a busy weekend. Sign ups are open over at the readathon website, and you can find more complete details there regarding how the event works. It makes for a fun, weirdly social weekend considering that it revolves around reading a lot.

With that, I’ll head right to this week’s Friday Links. Wishing you a fabulous weekend, filled with lots of reading and writing time. Enjoy!

New Year Booklists and More:

Most Anticipated: The Great First-Half 2019 Book Preview. – This bi-annual list features a huge collection of books releasing in the coming months. Always an excellent roundup, filled with titles that might otherwise not be on your radar.

105 Books Sci-Fi & Fantasy Editors Can’t Wait for You to Read in 2019. – Pretty much what it sounds like. Tons of great-sounding titles.

The Most Anticipated Crime Books of 2019, Pt. 1. – Enormous list of mysteries, thrillers, etc.

2019 Preview: Most Anticipated Romance. – A terrific list of upcoming romance novels, including titles by TKA clients Nalini Singh, Alyssa Cole, Melonie Johnson, and Cat Sebastian.

28 Young Adult Books Coming Out in 2019 that Will Seriously Get You Pumped for the New Year. – Like the title says…

How to Make Your Imagination Work Harder. – Great advice from Danny Gregory for anyone feeling a little overwhelmed, burned out, or possibly even blocked.

What We Gain from Keeping Books–and Why It Doesn’t Need to Be ‘Joy’. – In the midst of the backlash from booklovers against Marie Kondo’s method of cleaning out bookcases, a lovely look at what books do for us.

Yay, Yea, Yeah, or Yes? – A quick look at these often-used, but only sometimes interchangeable, words.

Setting Writing Goals for 2019

Setting writing goals at the end of December helps you get the new year off the a great start. Resolutions get a bad rap. Everyone knows how fast they fall by the wayside. But goals? Those can be set at any time. I just happen to like setting new ones at the beginning of the year.

Setting writing goals for 2019

Before you set your new goals, think about this year’s writing. Maybe you’re coming off of NaNoWriMo and my December Writing Challenge and want to keep that momentum. Maybe you’ve finished drafting a novel and need to revise. Do you feel ready to shop a project to agents? Are you just starting out and hoping to finish a first manuscript? Your recent progress and writing habits help set the stage for your next steps.

Don’t just consider one side of your writing. Some things will be going well, others will have frustrated you. Take in the entire picture. Consider what writing habits need rethinking, and which work for you. Did you set goals for 2018? Be sure to review those. See what you accomplished and take a minute to pat yourself on the back. Are there any goals you didn’t meet? Some may still apply while others may have changed over the year.

Once you’ve got a good idea of where your writing stands now, it’s time to look forward. Goals should challenge you, but you should also be able to achieve them. Overwhelming yourself might result in you giving up, but going easy won’t necessarily help you progress.

Tips for Setting Writing Goals:

Choose several goals of varying size and difficulty. The smaller goals will be easier to achieve and provide a sense of accomplishment, while the larger ones will keep you moving forward all year.

Stagger the dates when you aim to achieve your goals. You might have one or two large goals that you plan to complete by the end of the year. A few medium sized goals might take you only six months, while small goals might need one month or three months, depending on their difficulty. You can stagger the start dates, too, so that one small goal starts when an earlier one has been finished.

Consider goals that escalate. For instance, if you finish goal #1 – Revise your manuscript for submission, you’ll be ready for goal #2 – Research literary agents.

Take on goals that you can control. Some things regarding your career will be at least somewhat out of your hands. You might want to sell your first book to a traditional publishing house in 2019, but part of that relies on editors. Make your goals things that involve your actions only, such as querying a specific number of agents, writing a certain number of words per day or per week, or taking a good class to help you improve your writing.

Keeping Your Goals

Once you’ve set your goals, and the dates you aim to complete them, consider what actions you need to take. Write down a few steps required to achieve each goal. I like to keep a spreadsheet for my goals each year, so I can see my action plan at a glance. You might prefer a chart on your bulletin board or something in your planner. I recommend putting reminders in a few places, so you see something goal-related every day. You might also set some more formal reminders in your calendar app so something pops up periodically. Whatever keeps you focused.

Finally, schedule a quarterly check-in on your goals. Plan to review your goal list at the end of March, June, September, and December. This enables you to see your progress. Maybe you’ve finished something early and can start another goal sooner than planned. Maybe something needs a later date because of unforseen circumstances. You can also adjust your goals if you need to do so. Remember, you set the goals, so you can do what you want with them. Add, subtract, rearrange. Consider them a tool to get you where you wish to go. Good luck setting writing goals and achieving them, and with all you do in the year to come.

Friday Links: Year’s End Review

I’m squeezing my year’s end review in with Friday Links today because, in many ways, I’ve already started to tally up 2018. I discussed book lists for the year, plus some of my own favorites, which leaves some thoughts on the year overall.

year's end review over coffee

It’s been a lovely year for book deals and for reading wonderful new books by my clients. On the submissions front, I fared a little worse, having a hard time getting through all the projects coming across my desk. One of my first goals for 2019 involves catching up there and continuing to work our new query system. But goals call for a different post.

Outside my little book bubble, the world continues to rage and distract, from politics to tragedies to the loss of various public figures whom we’ll miss. Put this way, it sounds much calmer than if I go into specifics, so I won’t. We all know the chaos brewing. May we find a saner middle road in the year ahead. I hope to post a much more positive year’s end review come next December.

On the personal side of things, good and bad news seemed to take turns. This year saw close friends moving away and others coming to visit. My parents continued to get older, as people do. I managed some great travel for work and pleasure, and met a few new people I’m excited to know better. It all seems to balance out.

This week’s links reflect my year’s end review mindset in many ways, some looking back while others look forward. It’s an eclectic mix, so I hope you find them interesting and inspirational. Don’t forget to keep writing daily if you’re participating in the December Writing Challenge. Just a few days left! Have a great weekend.

This Week’s Links:

The World of Nora Ephron: A Reading List. – In honor of the 20-year anniversary of You’ve Got Mail, a lovely look at Ephron’s approach to filmaking and writing. Great suggested reading list, especially if you’ve never read any of her work.

10 Books by Debut Authors to Watch in 2019. – A wonderful list that includes the debut women’s fiction by my client Erin Bartels.

Tired of Series? Try These 10 Standalone Fantasy Novels. – I love a good series, but committing to yet another one can make me twitch. Some great recs for anyone who feels the same.

Megan Abbott’s Work Diary: ‘My Psychiatrist Notes How Tired I Look, Which Is Great’. – A peek inside the busy life of a successful author.

28 Young Adult Books Coming Out in 2019 That Will Seriously Get You Pumped for the New Year. – Pretty much what it says on the wrapper.

12 of the Best Romance Novels, According to the Author of The Proposal. – Jasmine Guillory shares some of her favorite reads from the past year.

From Dragon Riders to Winter Slumberers: Winter’s 10 Hottest Sci-Fi & Fantasy Reads. – A roundup with something for everyone.

A Guide to Short Story Contests in 2019. – Start marking your calendar now.

Holiday Reading Binge: Catching Up on the TBR Pile

I firmly believe in the power of the holiday reading binge. The days following Christmas can be a fabulous time to squeeze in a few good reads before the new year. One year I’d love to visit Iceland, where this post-holiday reading time even has its own word: jólabókaflóð. Icelanders traditionally give a large number of books for Christmas, and then take the time to binge read. Sounds heavenly.

Holiday Reading Binge: Girl reading by the Christmas tree

My holiday reading time shrinks a bit each year, as my parents get older and demand more attention during my visit. But I’ve been known to forgo sleep after they’ve gone to bed to squeeze in a few pages. I’ve also taken to listening to audio books at bedtime. I plug my earbuds into my phone and listen for an hour or so until I start dozing.

This December, I’m trying to finish the Alexandre Dumas classic, The Three Musketeers. It’s long, and I’ve been at it for months in fits and starts, but I’m hoping to finish in the next couple of days. I’ve also got some great audio books on loan from the library, including Mackenzi Lee’s The Gentlemen’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, which I’ve had on my TBR list for ages.

All in all, it’s been a great year for reading. The busier I get with work, the fewer books with covers I seem able to read, but it’s quality, not quantity. Or so I tell myself. Though I’m not quite through with my holiday reading binge, I thought I’d share some favorites from 2018. These are in no particular order.

Favorite Reads of the Year:

The Lady Astronaut series by Mary Robinette Kowal (The Calculating Stars and The Fated Sky). – A wonderful alternate history that puts women smack in the middle of the space race.

The Hanging Girl by Eileen Cook. – A young adult mystery about a teenager using her psychic ability to help the police locate a missing girl.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. – Because I am always trying to catch up with the fun bestsellers I missed when they originally dropped. An epistolary novel about a young woman who travels to Guernsey from London in the wake of World War II, in search of a subject for her latest novel.

The Wicked Deep by Shea Earnshaw. – A young adult novel about a small Oregon town where three young women were drowned as witches two hundred years ago, and future generations have been forced to pay for the deed.

How to Write an Autobiographical Novel: Essays by Alexander Chee. – Part memoir, part writing advice, these essays paint an interesting picture of Chee’s life and experiences so far.

Book-List Extravaganza: Titles to Give or Keep

Come December, there’s a book-list extravaganza, when every vaguely bookish periodical, website, and newsletter starts to post their “best of” lists for the year. I groan when it happens, mostly because I think at least half go up too early. What about all the December books? Don’t those count? It seems premature to announce your favorites before you’ve even taken out the Thanksgiving trash.

book-list-extravaganza

Still, the lists show up, and I take note. Because however early they’re posted, those lists always include some fabulous book I missed when it first published. And I love poring over them, searching for the perfect gift for a friend, or a terrific holiday read for myself. My favorite lists take a more personal approach, including the best reads from various contributors instead of an anonymous editorial board. I also love lists that focus on books read over the year instead of those published in the previous twelve months. I’m more likely to discover something wonderful that way.

With all this in mind, I’m here to share a number of great book lists with you. I’ve tried to post a diverse set of lists, including a variety of genres, age groups, and publication dates. Please note that I most definitely have not read all of these titles, so this is in no way a personal reading recommendation. I’ll be back in a few days with a post more along those lines. These lists simply offer a huge range of book titles their individual compilers found worthy of discussion. I hope you find some great gifts for your friends and family, or some wonderful ideas for ways to treat yourself. Happy reading!

Book-List Extravaganza:

Best Books of 2018. – The editors and contributors to Bookriot share their favorite reads of the year.

World Literature Today’s 75 Notable Translations of 2018. – A fantastic list, especially for anyone looking to globalize their TBR.

Lit Hub’s Favorite Books of 2018. – Lit Hub‘s contributors offer up 59 of their most recommended reads, including some wonderful sounding small press titles.

The Best Reviewed Books of 2018: Mystery, Crime, and Thriller. – Books to keep you on the edge of your seat.

100 Notable Books of 2018. – The New York Times compiles their annual collection of the year’s best reads across genres.

The 25 Best Young Adult Books of 2018. – Bustle‘s list for younger (or young-at-heart) readers includes a few really important reads. It was a wonderful year for YA.

The Millions Year in Reading 2018. – Each year The Millions invites writers, editors, and contributors to share a snapshot of their year in reading, which results in vastly different posts discussing all types of books, new and old. Always one of my favorite “lists” of December.

Best Books of 2018. – Library Journal features subgenres under both fiction and nonfiction, plus a section on graphic novels. So many great titles here.

The 10 Best Romance Novels of 2018. – A list of really wonderful books from Entertainment Weekly.

Tor.com Reviewers’ Choice: The Best Books of 2018. – An assortment of this year’s best science fiction and fantasy, plus one or two outliers, from various Tor.com reviewers.

Friday Links: Holiday Insanity Edition

Holiday insanity seems to have struck full force, so this week’s Friday Links are more fly-by than focused. Everyone apparently realized over the last few days that there’s about a week of business left before people vanish for the break, so all the work needs to be done. Right. Now. This means meetings, phone calls, and extremely-late-night reading sessions.

A few quick announcements before I move on to the links for the week. First, in case you missed it on Twitter, I will be closing to new submissions as of tomorrow, December 15th, through January (more or less). I’m trying to slow the deluge going into the holidays, and then I hope to catch up reading existing submissions. I’m still behind from our switchover to Query Manager. I love the new system,  but juggling two sets of submissions has been challenging. I hope to get through the backlog from the old system so I’m just down to one set of projects to read. Currently, I plan to reopen to submissions around the end of next month. I’ll post here and on Twitter when I’ve got a precise date.

Also, the December Writing Challenge continues! If you’ve missed some days, don’t sweat it. Just get back to writing and make an effort to set aside at least a small window of time for your work each day. You can do it, and you’ll be so happy come January that you didn’t get completely out of the writing habit.

Finally, we’re coming up on the time of year for setting new goals. I’ll be talking about goal-setting next week here on the blog, so start thinking about what you might want to accomplish in 2019.

And with that, I will move on to this week’s links. I hope that you find them entertaining, and a good break from the holiday insanity. Enjoy, and happy writing!

This Week’s Links:

A True Utopia: An Interview with N.K. Jemisin. – This lovely interview over at The Paris Review blog discusses short fiction vs. novel writing, what Jemisin envisions for the future, and more.

Tin House Magazine’s 20th Anniversary Issue Will Be Its Last. – Tin House announces the end of an era. Full focus will shift to their book publishing division and their workshops.

How a Cover Letter Can Help You Get Published. – Great tips, many of which hold true whether you’re submitting to periodicals or to agents/editors.

Kate DiCamillo, Chronicler of the Hard Truths of Youth. – NPR interviews the author about her honest approach to children’s fiction.

A Tour of a Writer’s London Sitting Room. – Take a peek into the world of author Ben Schott.

13 Libraries Book Lovers Need to Follow on Instagram. – A great assortment of library accounts, though just the tip of the iceberg.

December Writing Challenge: Helpful Hints for Daily Writing

Looking for some helpful hints to keep the words flowing during the December Writing Challenge? You’re in luck. I know that this challenge can feel like a lot, even without the pressure of hitting a certain word count each day. Many of you are coming off NaNoWriMo and feel you’ve earned a rest. Others of you are just so busy with holiday prep, or end-of-year work deadlines, that writing takes a back seat. So I’m zipping by to give you a few tips on ways to squeeze in a little bit of writing time each day. Remember, it doesn’t need to be a big chunk of time. Just enough to keep your creativity on track and your hand in the game. That way, come January, you won’t lose a week or two trying to get back in the habit.

helpful hints for daily writing

Helpful Hints for Daily Writing

  • Take a long look at your calendar and figure out what days are going to be the worst for you. Parties? House guests? Big work project due? Kids home for winter break? Then figure out how you can manage half an hour of writing time on those days. Maybe you want to schedule yourself a writing lunch. Or it could be as easy as taking a tape recorder on your morning walk and dictating some words instead of physically typing them. But assign yourself a writing block for each of those tough days and set a calendar reminder so you don’t forget.
  • Line up a fun project to work on. This can be instead of or–even better–in addition to whatever your current WIP is. It can be anything that you look forward to working on; a short story, some fanfic, a set of short rhymes, something holiday themed. The sky’s the limit, and there can be as many of these as you’d like. This way when you sit down to work on your main project and the words don’t want to come, you can trade off and get a few words down on the alternate project. You won’t feel nearly as stressed, and you may find it helps you kick any blocks on your main project to the curb.
  • Carry a small notebook and pen with you everywhere, and write if you find you have a few extra minutes. Maybe sitting in the pickup line at your kid’s school, maybe at the dentist’s office–wherever. Put down your cell phone or that three-year-old copy of People, and write instead.
  • Buddy up with a writing partner and make a point of meeting for coffee and writing time. You can trade off houses or hit your favorite coffee shop–whatever is fun but not too distracting. Do a couple of ten or fifteen minute timed writing sprints together, with short breaks in between to chat. Set a timer so  you don’t just talk your day away. It helps to be accountable to another person, so cheer each other on.

Remember that every bit of writing is forward momentum, even if you end up rewriting those words later on. The idea is to spend a few minutes each day thinking about your work and making a bit of progress. All the words count. Good luck, and happy writing!

Friday Links: Holiday Gift Giving Edition

Each year I like to offer up a holiday gift giving guide of sorts, mostly geared toward writers and readers. So that’s the slant of this week’s selection of Friday Links. Whether you’re shopping for the holidays or a birthday–or hinting at things you’d like–I hope these give you some ideas.

holiday-gift-giving-wrapped-presents

There will be plenty of book-centric posts in the next week or so. ‘Tis the season for end-of-year lists, after all. So for this post I’ve focused more on useful items and fun toys. But before I get to the links themselves, I have a few more general suggestions if you’re shopping for the writer in your life.

Writers tend to spend a lot of time hunched over a desk. Gifts that counteract that can be both helpful and luxurious. Think about gift certificates for massages or other spa treatments, a yoga class, or a new pair of running/walking shoes. Bath salts, a new wrist wrest, a good supportive desk chair, or even a standing desk might be excellent stay-at-home options.

Lack of writing time can be a frequent complaint. Give your favorite writer time to themselves for the holidays. Offer up babysitting services, take over a few extra chores for them while they’re finishing a project, or buy them time at a shared work space in their area. On the more extravagent end, send them off for a short writing retreat. That might mean a weekend at a local bed and breakfast or a week in a nice hotel with room service.

And finally, writers always appreciate new tech. Even if you’re not up to buying them a new laptop, a gift certificate to Best Buy or the Apple store might be a welcome contribution.

If you missed it, my December Writing Challenge is now underway, so please do join in. Now, witout further ado, I give you this week’s links. Enjoy, and happy writing!

Holiday Gift Giving Links:

21 Gifts Under $21 for Writers and Book Lovers (2018 Edition). – A fun assortment of useful book- and writer-themed items, some novelties and some quite helpful.

25 Gift Ideas for the Writer in Your Life (Even If That’s You). – A thoughtful collection of suggestions both writer- and reader-centric.

The Reader’s Catalog for The New York Review of Books. – One of my favorite bookish catalogs, where you can find literary napkins, classic character book tags, pencils with quotes printed on them, bookish jewelry, and more.

Storiarts. – A lovely, artistic shop featuring tees, totes, pillows, scarves, etc. with quotes from classic literature on them.

The Literary Gift Company. – Exactly what it sounds like. I’m particularly fond of their collection of journals with fun covers.

Goulet Pens. – My favorite spot for shopping for lovely fountain pens and beautiful colors of ink. They offer other stationery items as well. Worth a visit.

Freedom. – The app that temporarily blocks internet access from your computer, tablet, or phone. Help the writer in your life focus on their work and ignore the lure of social media, etc.

Literature and Latte. – Home of Scrivener writing software, which is my personal favorite, and useful for organizing writing projects of all sorts, from novels to blog posts to scripts to presentations.