Friday Links: Resources for Writers Getting Down to Basics

Happy Friday, everyone! This week has simply flown by and I have a huge pile of things to get done today, particularly since my new iPhone is supposedly on the truck for delivery, which means I’m having a technology update sort of weekend. Not only does the phone need to be set up, but my new computer is sitting in a box on the floor staring at me, waiting patiently for me to take a day to sort through four years of file accumulation (and email!) and migrate what I want to keep to the new machine. So that’s my exciting weekend plan. Come Monday I will be thoroughly modern and up-to-date. At least until Apple releases the new OS.

I’ll admit the good thing about this plan, other than a phone battery that will hold a charge more than half a day and a computer that moves with a bit more pep, is that file migration takes time. Time during which I can lie on the couch and read. I have a stack of books I’m twitching to get to, so I’m hoping to tackle one or two this weekend as well. I never quite outgrew that feeling of September signaling that it’s time to head back to school, which means my brain really wants to crawl into study mode for the next few months. This is probably about as close as I can get.

Of course, I have Friday Links for all of you, so whatever plans you’ve got brewing this weekend, take a few minutes to check these out. There are some writing tips, places to submit your work, and of course a few reading recommendations because at the end of the day, it’s all about the great books. In particular, there are some terrific links for anyone just starting out or who is looking to get back to the basics with their writing. I hope you find some inspiration here. Wishing you a wonderful weekend, and happy writing!

Katie Khan on Choosing the Perfect Name for a Novel – On that pesky chore of deciding on a title for your book.

The Millions Quiz: The Best Political Fiction – Some great book recommendations for anyone who can’t get enough of the political scene, or maybe for anyone wanting to hide from the current U.S. campaign chaos.

The 7 Biggest Mistakes Personal Essay Writers Make – Great tips for anyone looking to master (or publish) this format.

Opportunities for Writers: October and November 2016 – A great list of contests, calls for work, and other places where you can submit your writing, with deadlines over the next couple of months.

How to Be a Writer: 10 Tips from Rebecca Solnit – Solnit offers excellent advice on various aspects of the writing career and process.

10 Books on the American Immigrant Experience – A wonderfully diverse list of titles featuring the experiences of immigrants in America.

Start Writing Fiction: A Free Online Course Starts 3 October – An online course on writing fiction, offered for free by Open University, kicks off October 3rd.

Friday Links: Make Writing (and Reading) a Priority

Happy Friday, everyone! It’s a crisp fall-like morning here in SoCal (though we’re definitely looking at summer temperatures by lunchtime), and it has me completely energized. Which is a great thing, given my laundry list of to-dos for the weekend. I have serious plans involving work-related reading, a library visit to donate books, a fun run on the calendar for Saturday morning, dust bunnies to battle, and if I’m very good, a bit of time with my personal TBR stack. Depending on the whims of the weather, I will try to spend at least part of my reading time outdoors, because this week was nose-to-grindstone and I’m feeling pale and confined.

So what do you all have plotted out for this weekend? Chores? Family jaunt? Time with a good book? I hope you have at least a little writing time scouted out. Remember that putting it on your official calendar/schedule/day-planner/whatever can be very helpful when it comes to maintaining that commitment to yourself. If it’s important to you, make it a priority. Don’t let the other responsibilities of life throw you off your goals.

While you’re busy scheduling your next couple of days, be sure to leave a little window of time for checking out this week’s links. I’ve got a great lineup and I hope you find them entertaining, edifying, and just plain inspirational. Enjoy, and happy writing!

21 Novels by Women to Add to Your TBR This Fall – Great list. I’m itching to read more than a few of these.

This Ebook Publisher Doesn’t Have Authors. It Has Writers’ Rooms – A peek at the concept and the people behind Serial Box.

Introducing: Bookselling in the 21st Century – A new series from Lithub about independent bookstores.

2016 National Book Awards Longlists – This year’s nominated books, by category. Yes, more things to add to your already topping TBR pile.

Craft Thoughts: Why You Should Edit As You Write – One theory on the writing/editing process from Lincoln Michel.

Roald Dahl: Long-lost poem recovered by Tyrone school – Yet more unknown work by an author of note coming to light after years. This seems to be a weekly occurrence, but I say keep them coming.

My Best Writing Tip by William Boyd, Jeanette Winterson, Amit Chaudhuri, and more – Pretty much as described. Nice round up, followed by a few additional tips from an agent and an editor.

How to Interview a Writer (and How to Be Interviewed) – Some helpful tips for any of you running blogs and/or podcasts, or who have been invited to guest on one by someone else.

Friday Links: Inspiration to Get Your Writer Brain in Gear

Another Friday has arrived, and with it that sense that it’s time to get busy. The holidays are already in sight — if you judge by retailers, Halloween is moments away — and with them come all sorts of new distractions and obligations. So now is the time to set yourself in writing mode — whatever that means for your current project. Need to do some plotting? Have a list of research questions to tackle? Ready to pull something out of the drawer and get down to a serious edit? Or maybe you’ve been procrastinating getting those first sentences down on an empty first page. Whatever your goal, wherever you stand, it’s time to leap. Think how accomplished you will feel once you’ve made that next bit of progress.

This week’s links are rather a hodgepodge of different sorts of inspiration. Things to read, authors to admire, new ground to cover, and hints to help polish your work. In many ways, it’s my favorite sort of week because diverse links make for more connections with all of you, and also provide plenty of ways for you to stretch your writer brains. So take a look and see what strikes your fancy. Enjoy, and happy writing!

Planes Flying Over a Monster: The Writing Life in Mexico City – An armchair tour of the writing community in Mexico City.

6 Books that Get What It’s Like to Work Online – With more and more people working from home and using the internet as place of employment, these titles are relatable on many levels. Plus they’re just good reads.

Against Accessibility: On Robert Irwin, Chinua Achebe, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and Imbolo Mbue’s “Behold the Dreamers” – A commentary on the somewhat narrow selection of modern African fiction available to Western readers.

How non-English speakers are taught this crazy English grammar rule you know but have never heard of – Fascinating look at this more intuitive aspect of English grammar structure.

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Final Unpublished Collection Set for Spring 2017 Release – Yet another “lost” work by a revered writer.

Lisa Lucas Wants to Make Reading Fun Again – An interview with the new(ish) director of the National Book Foundation, in which she discusses her goals and her attitude toward reading.

100 African Writers of SFF: Part One, Nairobi – Not just a list of authors and/or books, but information about the country and profiles that include background, influences, etc.

The Writer’s Toolkit: 6 Steps to a Successful Writing Habit with Simon Van Booy – Information about the author’s new self-paced writing course available on Skillshare.com, for anyone who wants a little kick in the pants.

Friday Links: Writing Inspiration for a Long Weekend

This week I’m wondering not just how it got to be Friday, but how it got to be September. I swear, the earth is spinning just a little bit faster every year. If you haven’t already, you might want to take an hour or so to check in on your writing goals for 2016, and reassess your plan going forward. We’re officially two-thirds of the way through this year and I think it’s pretty clear that time waits for no one.

Here in the U.S., we’re heading into the long Labor Day weekend, which means final BBQs of the season, mad dashes to the beach, and just general enjoyment of the last unofficial gasps of summer. Whether you’re relaxing over the holiday or simply heading into a normal couple of days off, I hope you find some of the following links fun and inspirational. If you’re too busy playing beach volleyball to spend any time on the internet, well, they’ll be waiting for you a few days from now as well. Of course, if you plan to get in some writing time, they might come in handy. Enjoy!

A Writer’s Guide to Hacking the Reader’s Brain (in 5 Steps) – Thoughts on what makes a story really work for your reader.

The Lost Art of Custom Illustrating Your Favorite Books – Intriguing peek at a time when illustrated books were costly, so readers came up with less-pricy solutions.

How the Brontës Came Out as Women – All three sisters started out with masculine pen names; a look at when that changed.

An Illustrated Guide to Writing Scenes and Stories – Handy tips from writer Jeff VanderMeer, with some fun accompanying illustrations.

Langston Hughes’ Harlem Home May Get Its Own Renaissance — As an Art Center – Details pertaining to the recent effort to preserve the poet’s historic Harlem-area home.

6 Podcast Episodes that Will Make You a Better Writer – A nice assortment of podcasts that specifically address ways to improve your writing or provide excellent examples of a technique done well.

The Great Booksellers Fall 2016 Preview – A list of some of the most anticipated titles coming out over the next few months, touted by the people who know. I’m personally chomping at the bit for Amor Towles’ A Gentleman in Moscow.

Friday Links: Sending Your Inner Writer Back to School

Happy Friday, everyone! I’ve got a ton of reading recs for you this week in Friday Links, from lists of great books that have released this year to date to suggested reading for writers and a bunch in between. All great grist for the mill. And why is that important? Because September is just a stone’s throw away, and with it comes the downhill race toward the end of the year. We all know how fast those last four months fly, with kids back in school and holidays starting to loom, so now is the time to get your inspiration on and put your writer’s brain in gear. Read things that make you anxious to write, dive into that research you’ve been contemplating, stick some deadlines on your calendar. Get ready to do great things!

So without further ado, I offer up this week’s links. Enjoy, and happy writing!

The 25 Best Books of 2016 (So Far) – Pretty much what it says on the label. Some terrific titles on this list.

Hanya Yanagihara: ‘Don’t We Read Fiction Exactly to Be Upset?’ – The writer talks about what it means to be brave as a writer.

Top 10 Books Writers Should Read – Not your typical list, this offers up some fresh ideas for getting that writer’s brain tuned up and ready to roar.

President Obama’s 2016 Summer Reading List – In case you missed it, here’s what President Obama chose to read on his annual summer vacation.

Opportunities for Writers: September and October 2016 – A list of places to submit your work with deadlines in the next two months.

The Dangerous Myth of Authenticity – A look at the tightrope a writer walks when dealing in details that may stretch the reader’s ability to believe in the story.

Friday Links: Thoughts for the Writer’s Brain

Happy Friday! This particular Friday has me thinking about the end of summer, even though we still have weeks to go. There’s something about a weekend in August that feels slower, more laid back, especially if you live in a city that tends to empty out, with people heading to the beach or off on vacation. Things are a little quieter, more serene than usual. It feels like the last chance to relax before gearing up for the fall. I find my thoughts are already turning toward September, and what I need to accomplish between now and then. A mental house cleaning, if you will. The list is long, which makes this weekend my last shot at summer fun before I start kicking into high gear.

This week’s links are a mix of think-y and action provoking. Some will give you a quiet read that should set your mind working, while others might spur you on to get some writing accomplished, depending where you are in your seasonal cycle. Either way, I hope you find them interesting and entertaining, and that you find some time for reading and writing over the next few days. Enjoy!

Can the Academic Write? – Part one of an article looking at style, and how a career can impose a writing style upon you.

What ‘Stranger Things’ Can Teach Us about Characterization – A look at the new Netflix series, and some informative takeaways.

$6,000 Grants for Writers & Artists with Children – Great for any parents looking for some support for their art. Applications due by September 2nd.

The Pros and Cons of Getting Inside a Villain’s Mind – Tips on how to avoid giving up too many details when you investigate the villain’s POV.

Your Ultimate Summer Reading List – If you’re still searching for books to take on your vacation or something to dive into this weekend, this list has a nice balance between light and serious titles and ranges from fairly recent to older reads.

Does Fiction Actually Makes Us More Empathetic? – A look into the recent claim and whether it actually matters.

Happy National Book Lovers Day!

woman reading_Pixabay

It seems we’ve gone a bit overboard with these national and international days, but National Book Lovers Day is certainly one I can get behind. And frankly, there’s something a bit decadent about it landing mid-week. Almost permission to sneak off and read on the sly, instead of doing whatever it is you’d be doing on a random Tuesday.

I’ve got my nose deep in manuscripts at the moment, so I will resist the urge to play hooky because I feel like reading client projects and submissions definitely falls into the spirit of the day. But I do hope to find some time this evening to settle in on the couch with a nice glass of wine and a good book with a cover.

So what’s everyone reading? Any recommendations?

Friday Links: Ways to Make Your Writing Flow

TGIF! It’s been a long, hot week here in the L.A. area and I’m looking forward to spending my weekend in air conditioned spaces, splitting my time between reading for work and knocking out a few chores. Not very exciting, but I look forward to knocking some things off my to-do list and starting next week with that great feeling of accomplishment that comes with finally finishing tasks that have been lingering too long.

How about all of you? Fun plans for this weekend? Some quality reading and/or writing time? Whatever you’re up to, I hope you enjoy and that it leaves you excited to kick off a new week. In the meantime, I have this week’s Friday Links! It’s a good assortment, and there should be something here to intrigue just about everyone. Enjoy, and happy writing!

How to Write a Novel – An interesting look at the process, with a particular focus on “planners” vs. “pantsers.”

10 Tips for Finding Inspiration – Author Eileen Cook shares some ideas to help you get those thoughts flowing.

Want to Work in 18 Miles of Books? First, the Quiz – A look at the hiring process for The Strand bookstore in New York.

Women Crime Writers Are Not a Fad – A look at the long history of women writing in the genre, with some wonderful recommendations for anyone looking for an exciting read.

Bad Girls: An Interview with Emma Cline – Tin House talks to the young author, whose recent book has garnered a lot of attention.

Once All but Dead, Is Cursive Making a Comeback? – A strange but interesting look at a resurgence in teaching cursive writing in schools. As someone who still writes in cursive, I’ve been wondering how these new generations were going to be able to read what I wrote — or what anyone wrote by hand the last few hundred years. I’m curious to see how this pans out.

6 Tips for Cleaning Up Your Dirty Words (Grammatically, Of Course) – Ways to make profanity a seamless part of your writing when it’s appropriate to the character/genre/text.

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.