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: 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.

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.

Friday Links: On Reading (and Writing) All the Books

Whenever I get really busy, I start to have this panicky feeling in the pit of my stomach that says I’m falling behind with reading all the books I want to read. It’s irrational, of course. As a diehard bookworm, I know there isn’t any way I’ll live long enough to read all those stories. First of all, it’s a moving target, more great-sounding titles hitting the shelves every year. And second, I just don’t read that fast. But it’s still there. The anxiety over missing out. It’s the sensation that inspires me to indulge in weekend readathons, and that makes me particularly sympathetic to people with limited access to books. It probably helped steer me toward a career in publishing, because after all, getting paid to read books means you spend more time with your nose between the covers (or hovering in front of the computer screen).

This week’s Friday Links feature the usual assortment of reading-and-writing information and oddities, but I think my itch to spend some quality time reading shines through. Whether you’re planning a quick getaway, chasing after the kids, or spending the weekend in the yard doing chores, I hope you find a bit of time to devote to your own reading and/or writing. Maybe one or two of these with give you a push in the right direction. Enjoy, and have a wonderful weekend!

12 New Books We’re Excited to Read on Vacation this Summer – A great list; a few of these are already on my TBR pile.

How Young Adult Authors Can Use Tumblr to Reach Their Readers – Excellent tips for all writers, not just those working in YA.

How to Write a Fight Scene in 11 Steps – Nice breakdown of various fight scenes and how to approach writing your own.

Infiltrating Literature’s Secret Societies – A look inside a very particular type of novel, including some great examples to add to your reading list.

The Inspiration for Nnedi Okorafor’s Binti is a Muslim Scientist from the 10th Century – A fascinating and inspirational peek at the real history behind Okorafor’s wonderful book.

Just. One. Book. – A compelling blog post about a small, rural school in California that is trying to restock their hopelessly out-of-date library with new, diverse titles. Please consider sending along a book and/or boosting the signal. Starting Monday they plan to have an Amazon wish list up, but they’d love to get a copy of your favorite middle grade/young adult title.

The Delicate Art of Character Folding – On the writer’s dilemma of having to eliminate characters they’ve grown to love.

Books I Wish I Wrote: On Writerly Jealousy – Pretty much what the title says, with some great books mentioned.

Friday Links: Combatting Cabin Fever

Happy Friday, everyone! It’s been an insanely busy week here, so I apologize for being a bit quiet on the inter-webs. Sometimes you just have to put your head down and plow forward. And of course, with spring in full bloom here in the northern hemisphere, I’m aware that I, like everyone else, am struggling with a certain level of cabin fever. The birds are even now chirping outside my office window and it’s very tempting to just go play outside.

When I’m feeling this sort of pull, I resist it by reminding myself that the nice weather will still be there come the weekend… or whenever things quiet down to normal levels. Or I give myself lines in the sand; do everything on this list and then you can wander down the block to Starbucks for an hour of fresh air and caffeine injections. But it also helps to be engrossed in what I’m working on. The lure of a lovely day feels much less tempting if I’m reading a wonderful manuscript or helping make a project better. It’s all relative.

With this in mind, I’ve got a mishmash of links for you today that I hope help to combat your own cabin fever and allow you to put in a bit of reading and writing time. Plenty of things to think about and get you into gear. Enjoy!

Around the world in 18 science fiction and fantasy novels – A nice roundup for some serious armchair travel.

Interrogating Sentimentality with Leslie Jamison – On the line between writing that’s emotional and writing that’s overly sentimental or saccharine.

Download 67,000 Historic Maps – An open collection of high resolution maps available from Stanford University’s David Rumsey Map Collection. Great for research.

On the Heartbreaking Difficulty of Getting Rid of Books – Most of us know this problem. An interesting look at an author’s experience with trying to apply the Marie Kondo tidying method to her bookshelves, proving that not all systems work for all people — or at least not precisely as intended.

Whit Stillman Returns: “Sometimes it’s good to blow through all your deadlines.” – The director of Metropolitan tackles Jane Austen’s Love and Friendship.

Authors, Get Thee to Social Media: Explaining the Rise and Rise of YA Books – Intriguing article with some great points about social media (though this is obviously not the entire driving force behind the success of YA).

Knausgaard in Chicago: “I Don’t Want to Write about Myself Anymore.” – The author known for his mammoth multi-volume work of autobiographical fiction talks about literary ambition and success with Sheila Heti.

 

Friday Links: Shoring Up Your Writing Foundations

Happy Friday! We’re heading into Mother’s Day weekend, so I hope you have some plans, whether you are a mother or are just celebrating your own or some other mother in your life. Whatever else is going on, it’s always wonderful to take a moment to tell the people we love how much we care.

Should you have some writing time set aside around all the brunch or lunch or other types of activities, I have some links here that I hope will give you a bit of a push. Writing involves some digging deep, some soul searching, some serious thought if you want to get down to its very foundations and figure out what makes a story tick, what makes your characters true. Or even just what makes you commit to the work to begin with. So take a few minutes to check these out, either over the weekend or in the coming week, and see if they give you a fresh outlook. Enjoy!

The Road to Extraordinary – On the pursuit of excellence.

Essential Books for Writers – Some great titles to check out, or revisit if it’s been a while.

How Mapping Alice Munro’s Stories Helped Me as a Writer – Thoughts on how to learn from the work of others.

The Poetic Edda, Game of Thrones, and Ragnarök – A look at what the popular books and HBO series owe to Norse myths.

How to Plot and Outline without Using a Formula – Jane Friedman offers some thoughts on the architecture of books.

The Perpetual Solitude of the Writer – The role of loneliness in creating intimacy with one’s characters.

Write Like a Motherfucker – The classic “Dear Sugar” (Cheryl Strayed) response at The Rumpus. Every writer should read this periodically.

Readathon Wrap-up

Here’s a quick wrap-up for anyone curious as to the outcome of my readathon experience this weekend. I made it about 18 of the 24 hours, but because things geared up at 5am in my time zone, I was pretty much done by 11pm, without a lot of hope for waking early and reading more before the 5am deadline the following day. So I crashed and just got up briefly to cheer everyone on Twitter, then conked out for a few more hours.

Still, I read two entire books over the course of my readathon, one full comic book trade (about 6 regular-length issues), and made it about 50 pages into a third book, so I call it a win. Sunday, I did very little, and certainly no more reading, but it made for a great weekend, and as always I found the readathon experience to be tons of fun. There’s something about knowing so many other people around the world are settled in with their books and keeping track along with you. The social media aspect makes it even more enjoyable. A different experience for what is normally such a solitary activity.

Books read:

The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro

How to Set a Fire and Why by Jesse Ball (ARC)

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert (in progress)

Secret Avengers v. 1: Reverie by Nick Spencer and Luke Ross

Ready, Set, Read!

Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon kicks off this morning. It’s an east-coast-centered event, which means for me here in SoCal, the reading starts at 5am. I’d considered delaying a bit and reading slightly later than the rest of the crew, but what’s the fun in that? So I set my alarm and now I’m wide awake and raring to go. This means: coffee is brewing, I’ve pulled out my Jane Austen mug for the occasion, I put an extra pillow on my couch, and the coffee table is weighed down with books. I’ll post here occasionally throughout the day, but will probably be updating on Twitter: @NepheleTempest, so if you’re curious about my progress or what I’m reading, that’s the place to check. Happy reading to anyone else participating!

 

Friday Links: The Spring Fever Edition

Welcome to Friday! I have a readathon this weekend, which has me very excited, although a part of me questions how this is different than just about any other weekend. It’s just a more formal version of my favorite way to spend the weekend, with added on permission to ignore the laundry until the readathon is complete.

So what do you all have planned for your weekend? Spring keeps coming and going in various parts of the country so I find it hard to know who can escape outdoors and who is going to be curling up with a book and hot chocolate. But it still feels like time for spring fever, that twitchiness that makes you want to romp and play.

Whatever you have on your schedule, I hope you pencil in a bit of writing time. Maybe peek at those goals for your year and chip away at something. Regardless, have a good one and enjoy!

Chorus Lines – One writer explains how his experiences in the theater made him a better writer.

The Secret History of Jane Eyre: Charlotte Brontë’s Private Fantasy Stories – In honor of the anniversary of the author’s birth, a look at the fantastical stories she wrote in private before she became published.

Stephen King Used These 8 Writing Strategies to Sell 350 Million Books – A great cheat sheet for the key points King mentions in his book, On Writing. I recommend the entire book, but these are also a wonderful reference for daily use.

Structure: What Writers Can Learn from Visual Artists – An interesting approach to filling in the blanks of your story.

One-Sitting Books Perfect for a Readathon – Or for anyone pressed for time. Some great picks here, and I actually read a couple during previous readathons.

Opportunities for Writers: May and June 2016 – A list of places to submit or enter your work with deadlines coming up in the next couple of months.

2016 Pulitzer Prize Winners – A list of winners in all of this year’s categories. If you haven’t read the Kathryn Schultz piece for The New Yorker, I recommend it.

Modern Retellings of Shakespeare for Every Reader – In honor of the anniversary of the playwright’s death, a fun collection of works inspired by his plays.

Friday Links: A Hodgepodge of Inspiration

TGIF! I’m currently in Las Vegas on the fringes of the RT Book Lovers Convention (meaning I’m not really attending, but I’m there in the background, holding a few meetings), but I cannot leave you without Friday Links! So here are this week’s goodies. Whatever your plans for the weekend, I hope you squeeze in a bit of time to write. After all, every word counts, even those that end up being part of what gets cut in a revision. The most difficult thing to fix is a blank page, so fill your pages with words and go from there. Enjoy!

Why You Should Write Something Pointless – Some helpful tips to take the pressure off.

9 Websites for Readers Who Think about Books All Day, Every Day – You probably know most of these, but just in case…

Shakespeare on a Stamp – In honor of the 400th anniversary of the death of the Bard, the Royal Mail has put the man on the stamp. Or at least his words.

We Want to Hear New Voices: Diversity in Sci-fi and Fantasy – An interview with Zen Cho and Andre Carrington on diversity in sff, with some great reading suggestions from both the speakers and the folks calling in.

Ploughshares Emerging Writer’s Contest – Deadline approaching May 15th, so check it out.

Ruth Sepetys at LA Times Festival of Books