Friday Links: Inspiration to Write through the Holidays

Happy Friday! Apologies for the lack of links last week, but between the holiday and my own self-imposed social media blackout, I didn’t have as much as I would need for a full post. And you were all shopping anyway, right? However I am back this week with an all new collection of Friday Links to kick off December and this crazy final month of 2016.

First, a quick reminder that this is Day 2 of the December Writing Challenge. Even if you are just hearing about it now, it’s never too late to start, so make sure you get your writing time in for the day. Now’s also a good time to take a quick look at your weekend plans and figure out when you plan to write tomorrow and Sunday. Don’t risk running out of time; make a writing date with yourself and stick it on your calendar.

All right! Without further ado I give you this week’s Friday Links. There should be something here to inspire all of you to read and write through this busy time of year. Enjoy, and happy writing!

Roxane Gay on the Importance of Storytelling – A short Q&A with the author.

John Scalzi: Writing for Audio Made Me a Better Writer, Period – The author discusses how writing specifically for audio changed his approach.

The Man Who Invented Bookselling as We Know It – The history behind The Temple of Muses, the famous London bookshop that set the standard for book retail in the 18th century.

Putting Penis to Paper: When Sex Writing Goes Terribly Wrong – A humorous look at the art (or lack) of writing sex scenes.

These Women Reporters Went Undercover to Get the Most Important Scoops of Their Day – A look at the girl stunt reporters of the late 19th century.

35 Gifts Under $35 for Writers and Book Lovers – A nice roundup for those of you shopping for the bookish and/or writing set, or who need to nudge your own friends and family toward getting you things you’d like.

The Non-Western Books that Every Student Should Read – Great assortment of titles for anyone looking to diversify their TBR pile.

The History of Female Titles: When ‘Mistress” Meant ‘Mrs.’ and ‘Miss’ Meant ‘Prostitute’ – An interesting account of how women’s titles have changed. Particularly useful for historical fiction authors.

Ready, Set, Write

As I blogged yesterday, today marks the start of this year’s December Writing Challenge, so wipe down your computer screens, sharpen your pencils, and ink those fancy fountain pens. It’s time to get to work.

Whether you are just starting out as a writer and find the idea of writing daily overwhelming, or you have a long-established writing habit and would just like a little added encouragement during this busy season, this challenge is for you. The goal, as stated in my previous post, is to write every day, even if just a little bit. Work on that novel you have in progress or start something brand new. Juggle a few things or focus all your attention on one. Yes, revising counts, though you should make sure that revision time includes some writing of new text and not just crossing out things that aren’t working. The goal is to write.

So, a few tips to get you started:

  • Schedule your writing time ahead if at all possible. Make a date with yourself and put it on the calendar. That way you won’t be washing the dinner dishes and bemoaning the fact that you still need to write.
  • Have at least one backup project to work on. That way if you’re truly stuck on your main writing project one day, you can switch over and get some words in on your other idea rather than not write at all that day.
  • If you have a really hectic day, try breaking up your writing time into a couple of smaller sessions.
  • Tell your friends and family what you’re doing, so they understand that there will be a window of time each day when you really can’t be disturbed unless it’s an emergency. Added bonus: this helps train them for the new year, when you have your daily writing habit established.

Now, a brief word on writing every day. No, it’s not necessary to write every day in order to be a writer. Plenty of writers are successful writing less frequently. But a regular writing habit of any sort is like any other exercise — you’re training your muscles (in this case your brain) to perform on demand. So taking this challenge doesn’t mean you have to write every day for the rest of your career. But it will help warm up that creative muscle of yours and keep you moving forward during a month when it’s easy to let your own needs fall by the wayside. And who knows? You may like what you come up with when you write every day.

Good luck, and happy writing!

December Writing Challenge: 2016

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It’s the last day of November, and the last day of NaNoWriMo for those of you participating. But whether you’ve just finished up tackling 50,000 words in 30 days, you’re falling short of the mark, or you think the idea of trying to churn out that many words in a single month is insane, I have a new challenge for you. Or rather an annual challenge. Tomorrow is the first day of December, and with it comes my December Writing Challenge.

For those of you unfamiliar, the December Writing Challenge is designed to help you keep up your good writing habits through what is arguably the busiest month of the year. With all the holidays, the year-end wrap ups at work, and planning for the year ahead, writing efforts often get short changed. This becomes especially problematic for anyone who has resolutions for the new year that have to do with their writing — writing more, better, finishing a project, getting an agent, etc. Bad habits formed in December take a little bit of time to correct in January, and so writers end up starting off the year on the wrong foot.

The December Writing Challenge aims to help you maintain (or even build) good writing momentum now, at the close of the old year, so you can start the new year off with a bang. It helps you keep writing even if you can only steal a little bit of time. Only you can decide if writing is a real priority in your life, and this challenge can also help you determine how much you want this life.

The challenge is simple: Write every day during the month of December.

  • You can be working on a novel, revising something, tinkering with some short stories, writing personal essays for periodicals, putting together a proposal for a new project… whatever. You can work on one thing or many things.
  • You can write for as little as 15 minutes on a really busy day, though I’d ask you to aim for at least 30, even if you have to break it up into chunks.
  • Because I know this time of year is crazy, you can give yourself up to two days off during the month. You choose the days. Maybe Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Maybe New Year’s Eve. Maybe the day your family all arrives to stay with you. But plan ahead and keep in mind that the goal is to take no more than two days off.

That’s the challenge. No difficult rules to track, no weird stunts to pull. Just write, every day, over the course of the month. Give yourself some quiet time to get those words on paper or pixels on screen. Make writing a priority. Let your family know this is nonnegotiable. Keep your head in the game.

I’ll be posting prompts and pep talks periodically throughout the month to help you keep at it, but ultimately the choice is yours. You can do it. Happy writing!

Friday Links: Inspiration to Keep the Words Flowing

Happy Friday, everyone! This has been an extremely busy week, in part because I looked up and realized suddenly that it’s Thanksgiving here in the U.S. next week, which means a very short week in terms of getting work accomplished. As always, I feel like I’m blindsided by the holidays and the end of the year. Time certainly is flying.

So with that I offer up some varied links for the weekend, including some lovely thoughts on reading because I fully intend to use some of my holiday time off curled up on the couch with a few choice items from the towering TBR pile. I wish you all some quality reading time as well, plus writing time, of course, especially those of you tallying up the words for NaNoWriMo. Hopefully some of these links will keep those ideas flowing. Enjoy, and have a great weekend!

2016 National Book Awards Announced – Congrats to the winners!

If You Want to Be a Writer, Neil Gaiman Says You Should “Get Bored” – A brief explanation as to why Gaiman thinks boredom is the key to writing.

Reading Locally When You Travel – How searching out books at your travel destination can add to the experience.

5 Reasons to Keep a Record of What You Read – An argument for chronicling books you’ve finished.

Hundreds of US Children’s Authors Sign Pledge to Tackle Racism and Xenophobia – A look at the movement to use literature to fight fear.

Ten Obsessions that Murder Writing Careers – A list of time sucks and other issues that can detract from the more important aspects of writing.

Friday Links: The Endurance of Art

Happy Friday, everyone! I’m afraid I have a rather abbreviated set of links for you this week, given that my attention was generally elsewhere during my downtime this week. But I do have a few tips and a bit of a pep talk, especially for you NaNoWriMo participants, who may be struggling with output about now.

Art endures. Whatever your feelings about the outcome of this week’s election, I encourage you to continue to do your best work, to focus your frustrations and joys and heart into your writing and into making the best art you can. So get words down, or go read your favorite book, or discover a wonderful new novel and get lost in its pages. Pick up some cheap theater tickets or head to the movies. Spend a quiet hour in a museum. Take a little time for your spirit and your creativity, whatever else you feel it’s necessary to do right now.

5 Benefits of Using a Typewriter on Your First Draft – An interesting theory of process.

Why Fiction Matters – Why you should keep plugging away at your work.

Toni Morrison on Reality TV, Black Lives Matter, and Meeting Jeff Bezos – An interview with the acclaimed author.

Writing Trans Characters – Some advice on how to write an accurate portrayal.

The Words and Works of Leonard Cohen – Saying goodbye to the talented singer/songwriter/poet.

Friday Links: Pre-Election Inspiration

TGIF! This weekend marks the last few days running up to the elections here in the U.S., and I think it’s safe to say that not only the nation but a good part of the world is bracing itself for the outcome. So much rides on who moves into the White House come January, and also on what happens with the balance of power in Congress, particularly for women, for immigrants, for anyone who has traditionally been labeled as “other.” Every vote matters, and while getting out to vote itself is the most important thing, I would also ask people to truly consider whether their vote will have actual weight, and not to vote for someone with no chance of winning simply to make a statement. Too much hinges on the outcome this year for any of us to make what will ultimately be a rather hollow stand.

And on that note, I’ll shut up about politics and get to this week’s links. They may be a little thematic, in that there’s a fair number that focus on diversity in literature, but that theme is ongoing around here, so it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. I’ve also got some writing tips that might particularly interest the NaNoWriMo folks. Wishing you all a great and productive weekend. Happy writing!

From the First to Second Wave: Wonder Woman’s Feminist Roots – Feels appropriate in light of the release of the new trailer for next summer’s film.

NaNoWriMo 2016: Writing Tips and Techniques from Our Authors – A round up of writing tips from the Penguin Books blog.

Jade Chang Won’t Write a Traditional Immigrant Novel – Electric Literature interviews the author of the recent release, The Wangs vs. The World.

Mind Your Languages: Literature in Translation Quiz – Check out your literary translation I.Q. or just pick up some fun facts.

Tuck Everlasting Author Natalie Babbitt Dies at 84 – A brief report on the death of the beloved children’s author.

What to Do When Your Book Jumps the Shark – Tips for how to handle abrupt, ridiculous plot twists that send your book careening off track.

Reading The Handmaid’s Tale in the Year of Trump – I’ve been tempted to reread this book several times this year, but I couldn’t quite bring myself to do it in the face of reality. Timely.

 

Happy Book Release Day to Nalini Singh!

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A very happy book release day to Nalini Singh, whose latest installment in her Guild Hunter series — ARCHANGEL’S HEART — comes out today.

One of the most vicious archangels in the world has disappeared. No one knows if Lijuan is dead or has chosen to Sleep the long sleep of an immortal. But with her lands falling into chaos under a rising tide of vampiric bloodlust, a mysterious and ancient order of angels known as the Luminata calls the entire Cadre together to discuss the fate of her territory.

Accompanying her archangelic lover Raphael to the Luminata compound, guild hunter-turned-angel Elena senses that all is not as it seems. Secrets echo from within the stone walls of the compound, and the deeper Elena goes, the uglier the darkness. But neither Raphael nor Elena is ready for the brutal truths hidden within—truths that will change everything Elena thinks she knows about who she is…

Nothing will ever be the same again.

Elena and Raphael are back, digging deeper into the secrets that surround the world of the archangels. Find them at your favorite brick-and-mortar or online retailer today.

Happy Halloween!

(c) Can Stock Photo/ mythja
(c) Can Stock Photo/ mythja

It’s a day known for candy, for costumes, for scary stories and haunted houses and a final settling into the autumn season. So whether you plan to take your little ones out for some trick-or-treat fun, read a great old horror novel, or simply steal some time to work on plotting out your NaNoWriMo novel so you’re ready for tomorrow, I wish you a fun-filled, safe holiday, complete with all the best sorts of thrills.

Friday Links: A Little Halloween Gloom

Happy Friday, everyone! It feels like we just started October, yet here we are heading into the last weekend of the month. I hope you’ve all had a productive few weeks and have made progress on your goals for 2016. The end of the year is in sight, so now is the time to double down and make some good headway.

This week I have a rather abbreviated collection of links, mostly because I was traveling and then playing catch up and so there wasn’t a great deal of time for scouting out wonderful snippets. However, it’s a pretty diverse assortment — though overall a little gloomy and Halloween-appropriate — and I hope you find them interesting and inspiring. Sometimes the smallest tidbit can provide a new outlook or perspective. Plus I have not forgotten that NaNoWriMo kicks off starting Tuesday. If you’re participating this year, I wish you the best of luck. Enjoy, and happy writing!

The Lost Virtue of Cursive – A look at the art of handwriting and some thoughts about its present, and future.

Sheri S. Tepper’s Dystopias – In honor of the author, who passed away this week, a look back at her best known novels.

Anne Brontë, Anger, and the Resonance of Assault in The Tenant of Wildfell Hall – A look at this less known Brontë sister and the underpinnings of her best known novel.

Eight Horror Films about Writers – A little Halloween goodness for you all.

Marlon James: Why I’m Done Talking about Diversity – An intriguing perspective on the discussion of diversity in publishing and writing.

The Perks and Perils of Writing a 50,000 Word Novel in a Month – Some thoughts on NaNoWriMo.

Friday Links from North of the Border

Greetings from beautiful Surrey, British Columbia, Canada! I’m in conference mode, hence the somewhat late post today. I intended to schedule something last night but it just never happened, so I’m sneaking in between pitches and dinner to leave you a few goodies for your weekend entertainment. I hope you find them interesting and inspiring. Happy writing!

12 Awesome Things You Probably Didn’t Know about the British Library – For curiosity’s sake or for adventure/travel plans.

Excellent Nonfiction about Girls for Tween and Teen Readers – Great list, whether you’re shopping for the teen reader in your life or for a bit of industry research.

Interview with a Gatekeeper: Algonquin’s Elisabeth Scharlatt – One editor/publisher opens up about the industry.

Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon – Read all day on October 22nd! Sorry for the late announcement but there’s still time to join in if you want.

17 Short Story Competitions to Enter Before the End of the Year – Pretty much what it says.

What the Deuce: The Curse Words of Charles Dickens – A look at how the author got around the censorship of his time.