Friday Links: Vacation Reading Roundup

With summer unofficially coming to a close, a vacation reading roundup seems necessary. Maybe you’re taking off for a week before fall hits, or maybe you just wish you were. Either way, it’s time to catch up on the summer books you meant to read but never got around to.

Vacation reading

I still have writing tips for you this week, but there are a lot of book lists. Some even hint at back-to-school and the approach of autumn. And don’t worry if you’re currently coping with winter and dreaming of spring. Plenty of these will appeal to you, too.

So without further ado, I give you this week’s Friday Links. I hope you find some great writing inspiration and some intriguing vacation reading to add to your TBR. Have a fabulous weekend!

This week’s links:

Top 10 Books about Americans Abroad. – For inspiration or armchair traveling.

16 Puerto Rican Women and Non-Binary Writers Telling New Stories. – A great introduction to Puerto Rican literature, particulary for anyone working to diversify their reading.

An Extensive List of Amazing Books by WOC. – Pretty much exactly as stated. Something here for everyone.

The Three Types of Book Cover Design Every Writer Should Know. – A nice reference for anyone sellf-publishing but also for traditional writers trying to figure out what to expect from their cover art.

The Virtues of Shelf-lessness. – Writer Sloane Crosley shares her approach to keeping books in her home.

Click if You Dare: 100 Favorite Horror Stories. – For those of you already planning Halloween costumes. A great list with a broad definition of what horror means, so even readers who shy away from scary books should find something here.

Five Reasons to Keep Track of Every Single Book You Read. – Justification for that diligent list-making. I’m right there with you, and I wish I started younger.

As Barnes & Noble Struggles to Find Footing, Founder Takes Heat. – A look at the state of the bookstore chain and its fight to reinvent itself.

Start Writing Fiction: A Free Online Course Starts 3 September. – Information on an upcoming class from The Open University.

In Search of Doors. – The text of V.E. Schwab’s 2018 J.R.R. Tolkien Lecture on Fantasy Literature, which she presented at Oxford University earlier this year.

Friday Links: Writing Foundations

Every writer’s work develops from their writing foundations, their earliest impressions as young writers and readers. Although new experiences always add to the writer’s perspective, nothing is so formative as those first encounters. This week’s links focus on the usual range of topics, but several include interviews with authors talking about their writing identity and early influences. Consider your own favorite books that inspired you to write, or life events that might affect your writing themes. Sometimes knowing the questions that fascinate you can help you dig more deeply into the story you wish to tell.

As always, I hope this week’s links leave you feeling excited to write. Wishing you a wonderful weekend, with some time to read, write,  and maybe to investigate your own writing foundations. Enjoy!

This week’s links:

On the 13 Words that Made Me a Writer. – Author Sofia Samatar talks about her youthful obsession with fantasy and how it inspired her.

When Your Imposter Syndrome Is Out of Control. – Everyone feels unsure about themselves at some point. A great reading list to help fight self-doubt.

The Crack Squad of Librarians Who Track Down Half-Forgotten Books. – A look at those talented folks who help find that book you can’t quite remember.

Jason Reynolds: “What’s Unusual about My Story Is that I Became a Writer.” – The multi-published author discusses how his early experiences led him to write books that wouldn’t bore his audience.

Writing Wisdom from Guest Author Maureen Goo. – The YA author talks about her approach to writing.

Five Books about Unconventional Pirates. – Because I have a pirate thing, okay? And everyone’s TBR stack should have a pirate book on it.

Reading Horror Can Arm Us Against a Horrifying World. – NPR looks at horror as a way to make sense of reality.

Friday Links: Dog Days Inspiration

August heat calls for some dog days inspiration to get anything accomplished. When the temperatures climb, it’s hard to self-motivate. It can feel like your brain is melting out your ears. So I hope today’s links provide some distraction from the weather, whether you’re roasting along with me, or freezing with my friends in the southern hemisphere.

Dog Days Inspiration: dogs walking on a sunny beach

It’s nose to the grindstone in my neck of the woods, with fingers crossed that my AC keeps working, too. Today through the weekend I’m in reading mode, with two client projects on my desk and a stack of submissions queued up. I’ll have some status updates next week, along with a couple of exciting announcements. Meanwhile, I offer up some great links for you to check out. I hope they help you put your writing caps on and get down to work. Have a great weekend, and happy writing!

Dog Days Inspiration:

How to Keep Plot Twists Fresh. – Author David Bell offers tips on how to keep your thriller surprising. Helpful even if thrillers aren’t your thing.

Dear Suzanne Brockmann.Last week I linked to Suzanne Brockmann’s RWA speech; this letter from author Nicki Saledo offers a heartfelt response and an important personal take on diversity and inclusion in publishing.

Building a SciFi Future that Matters: Five Authors Share their Worldbuilding Strategies. – Really interesting look at different approaches to building a futurescape.

Radical Writing: Was Angela Carter Ahead of Her Time? – Discussion of the late author and the upcoming documentary on her life and innovative work.

“Write a Sentence as Clean as Bone” and Other Advice from James Baldwin. – Writing tips from the late author, who would have been 94 this week.

John Green Wants You to Read Tiny Books. – An explanation of the small book format (Flipbacks) popular abroad that is finally coming to the U.S., in part thanks to author Green. I’m curious to see if these catch on. Think how many more books will fit on your shelves!

Foreshadow, issue zero. – The launch of the new online anthology featuring YA short fiction by both new and established authors. Great reads by a diverse collection of writers.

Friday Links Return: Jump Start Your Vacation Brain

Friday Links Return feels like an appropriate title for my first blog post in a while. These links should help get your writer’s brain working, whether you’re stuck in summer vacation mode or the winter doldrums. Stir things up, jostle some new ideas around, or tackle that project you set aside months ago.

Likewise, I plan to use this post as a segue back to some regular blogging. Both work and life remain busy, but writing always serves as an excellent distraction from larger concerns. Time for me to remember that and get back on schedule. Friday Links Return is by no means a one-shot deal.

Despite the radio silence, I continued to collect interesting tidbits as if I were blogging the past few months. Today you benefit from my hoarding. I discarded things I considered time sensitive, but plenty of the slightly older links remain. I bring you writing advice and publishing culture. Also, I apologize now for what I’m about to do to your TBR piles. So many book recs. I hope you feel inspired on so many levels. Wishing you a wonderful weekend, and happy writing!

Friday Links Return:

10 Fairy Tale Retellings that Are Deeper, Darker, and Sexier than the Originals. – I love a good fairy tale for grownups just as much as the versions from my childhood. Some great ones on this list.

Read It Forward’s Favorite Reads of July 2018. – A wonderful list of great titles released this month.

Most Anticipated: The Great Second-Half 2018 Book Preview. – One of my absolute favorite lists of upcoming releases, this biannual collection from The Millions always leaves me excited about so many new titles on the schedule.

That RWA LTA Speech (News from Suz). – Romance author Suzanne Brockmann received the Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award at this year’s national RWA conference in Denver, and her speech caused quite a stir. It’s an excellent, inspiring read.

How Finland Rebranded Itself as a Literary Country. – Interesting for the literary angle, but also as a lesson in changing up your image.

Our Fiction Addiction: Why Humans Need Stories. – A look into the whys behind our obsession with books, movies, TV series, etc.

On Becoming an American Writer. – Alexander Chee takes an honest and often-difficult look at the realities of being a writer in the U.S., and offers up some advice.

Geniuses Need Not Apply: On Creative Writing Courses. – A brief look at some different approaches to learning how to write, and their potential worth.

How to Write Great Dialogue. – Some quick and dirty tips from editor Kat Brzozowski.

The Novel within the Novel. – A look at some books that have secondary stories nested inside of them. I love this device when it’s done well. Anthony Horowitz’s Magpie Murders is another great example. Intriguing reads, whether or not you intend to give the structure a try in your own project.

Friday Links: Some Writing Journeys

This week’s Friday Links include some writing journeys, because there is no single way to become a writer. Every writer follows their own path, and only through writing will you discover what works for you. So I’ve gathered a few essays and interviews with authors who share their particular journeys. I hope they inspire you and encourage you to keep writing, keep experimenting, to find your own road to success.

In addition, I’ve got the usual collection of interesting tidbits I’ve found this week. I hope you find them entertaining and/or intriguing. Have a wonderful weekend, and don’t forget to squeeze in some time for writing journeys of your own. Enjoy!

This Week’s Links:

Podcast with Jasmine Guillory. – Sarah Enni speaks to debut author Jasmine Guillory about her road to writing, and how she ended up writing a romance.

The Bodies of the Girls Who Made Me: Fanfic and the Modern World. – Author Seanan McGuire talks about getting her start through writing fanfic and the role fanfic plays in storytelling, writing, and representation.

Catherine M. Valente: Five Things I Learned Writing Space Opera. – The multi-published author discusses the things she learned writing her latest book.

In the Gap Between Writer and Reader, the Novel Come to Life. – An interesting look at how the reader’s perceptions color their experience of a book.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s Remains Rediscovered in Wine Cellar. – The poet’s remains, which had been moved at some point, have been relocated.

An Interview with Jamie Ford, Author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. – The author talks about writing his debut title, and  how it reads a decade later in light of the current political climate.

Your Pocket Guide to 10 Literary Movements. – A fun little reference for anyone looking to fill holes in their literary knowledge or acquire a bit of ammo for trivia night.

Friday Links: A Reading Avalanche

My reading list seems to have morphed into a reading avalanche of late. I’d make a Hydra reference — read one thing and two more spring up in its place — but it actually feels more like the way the gold at Gringott’s multiplies and tries to crush Harry Potter when he breaks into the vault in the final book. I’ve got submissions, client projects, ARCs that have hit my desk, and of course, regular old books. It’s a fabulous wealth of riches, but I just can’t seem to get ahead of the flow.

So I’m sharing the wealth. I’ve been dutifully collecting links for weeks, many of which offer up lists of amazing sounding books to read. Time to get them out into the world (and close some of these endless tabs). It’s a holiday weekend here, so whether you’re celebrating Easter or Passover or something else or nothing at all, I wish you a bit of excellent reading time. Here are some suggestions for your TBR stacks, as well as the regular writing tips and so on. Happy holidays and here’s to wonderfully word-filled  days. Enjoy!

This Week’s Links:

7 Books about Different Writing Lives. – An assortment of books revealing varied facets of the writing life.

The Best Classic Novels for Beginners. – A panel shares their thoughts about the most accessible classics for anyone looking to give them a try or maybe get back to reading them.

21 Amazing New Books You Need to Read This Spring. – New releases either already on shelves or on the horizon.

25 Classic Crime Books You Can Read in an Afternoon. – Some shorter classics to curl up with when you have (or need) a few hours to yourself.

Hilary Mantel: “We Still Work to a Man’s Timetable and a Man’s Agenda.” – An interesting look at the author’s experiences coming up as a writer, and the treatment she received as a woman in the field.

How to Hide Exposition through Action. – When you can’t get away from the need to “tell” instead of “show.”

In Naomi Alderman’s Podcast, Listeners Walk into the Story. – NPR interviews the author about her podcast’s unusual, immersive story structure.

Visit London’s Radical Bookstores. – A guide to some great, diverse bookstores in London, whether you’re local or planning your next trip.

On Writing the Comics – and Queer Characters – We Need. – A fabulous conversation between Neil Gaiman and N.K. Jemisin.

21 of the Biggest Debut Books by Women, Winter of 2018. – Some terrific titles on here I’ve already enjoyed, with many more to add to the TBR stack.

Friday Links: Still Breathing Edition

For those of you wondering, I’m still breathing. I know things have been a bit quiet here lately. Apologies for the radio silence, but I’ve been snowed under — by paperwork and reading, not actual snow. I hope to have some wonderful things to share with you soon. In the meantime, I’ve a collection of links that are past due posting. My browser will be so happy when I close out these tabs.

These links are a bit all over the place, mostly because I’ve been gathering them for weeks. A couple are February-centric, but they certainly won’t expire, so I hope you’ll excuse them sneaking in here at month’s end. Wishing you all a wonderful weekend, filled with books and good writing time. Enjoy!

This Week’s Links:

2017 Locus Recommended Reading List. – A roundup of the best SFF from 2017, according to Locus magazine.

Should You Write What You Know? 31 Authors Weigh In. – Writers discuss the age-old advice and how true it is.

#ReadingBlackout: 28 Days of Books By and About African Americans for Black History Month. – A terrific selection, and certainly worth reading all year long.

I’m National Book Foundation Executive Director Lisa Lucas, and This Is How I Work. – LifeHacker focuses on Lisa Lucas in their “How I Work” series.

Applications Now Open for the $35,000 Academy Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting 2018. – Details posted for how to submit for the fellowships run by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Let’s Talk about the Fantasy of the Writer’s Lifestyle. – A look at the glamorous ideal of the writer’s life in comparison to reality.

15 Banned Books and Their Reasons for Censorship. – A look at how and why various books have been banned and the route from challenge to actual censorship of a title.

Nick Harkaway Tells Strange, Chilling Tales — and Has Devoted Fans. – An interview with the author discussing the secretive nature of his stories and how that limits the conversation about his work.

On Imitation. – An intriguing look at one writer’s experiences growing up and learning about influence and imitation and where the line gets drawn to make something your own.

Friday Links: A New-Year Writer’s Jump Start

Welcome to 2018, and a writer’s jump start to kick things off right. Whatever your goals for the new year, I hope you’ve included plans to stretch your writing. Maybe you want to submit more stories, search for an agent, or finish a work-in-progress. Or perhaps you’re a published writer intent on taking your work to the next level. Whatever your goals, I aim to help, with Friday Links to inspire and entertain, future posts looking at craft and the publishing world, and some surprises I have in the works.

The first week of the year always feels a bit slow, as everyone gets back into the swing following the holidays. Next week, I’ll have some announcements regarding submissions and more, so be sure to check back. But first, I bring you some links to get your creativity flowing and maybe help move forward with your goals. There’s a little something for everyone, so enjoy, and happy writing!

This Week’s Links:

A Few Things to Consider before Submitting Your Work to a Literary Magazine. – Great tips to help you put your best foot forward.

How to Take Great Bookish Selfies. – For anyone whose new year’s goals include becoming more active on social media.

Making British Characters Realistic as an American Writer… and Vice Versa. – Advice for how to make your characters ring true.

A Guide to Short Story Contests in 2018. – Places to submit your short fiction in the coming year. Mark your calendars!

Words to Add to Your Vocabulary, Especially if You’re a Book Lover. – Some terrific words for the bookworms among us.

15 Books You Should Read This January. – A rundown of some of the month’s hot new titles, several of which have gone directly onto my TBR list.

Literary Hub’s Favorite Books of 2017. – In case you might have missed anything…

 

A Daily Writing Habit: Do You Need to Write Every Day?

The idea of a daily writing habit prompts frequent discussion in writerly circles. Do you need to write every day to become a good writer? The short answer is no, of course not. Many successful writers do not write every day, for whatever reason. Their day jobs make it impossible, they prefer to write for long blocks of time on the weekend, etc. If writing daily rubs you the wrong way, or simply is not feasible, do not panic. But if you can manage a daily writing habit, I encourage you to try, because writing daily has its advantages.

daily-writing-habit

What Can Writing Daily Do for You?

  • Creativity is like a muscle; the more you work it, the stronger it becomes. A daily writing habit helps you train your brain. When you sit down at your computer or pick up your notebook on a very regular basis, your brain understands it’s time to create. If you write every day, even just for a little while, you will see a change in how ideas flow. Everyone knows that feeling of being “rusty” from not writing for a while. The opposite is true, as well. Writing daily helps prime the pump and keeps your creative mind nimble.
  • A daily writing habit helps you fight a tendency to procrastinate. If you plan to write three days per week, it is easier to put off that day’s writing. Whereas, if you write every day, you don’t have to decide whether to fit a writing session into your schedule. There is no questioning “Is this a writing day?” because the answer is always yes.
  • Writing daily can also help lessen the pressure of deadlines. It’s no guarantee that you won’t need an all-nighter or two to finish a manuscript, but it certainly makes it less likely than if you’ve been procrastinating for weeks.

No rule of writing says that you must write every day. Even writers who do write daily will take time off here and there. Writers are human beings, and all human beings need to take breaks from their work, no matter how much they love it. Nor is writing daily a cure-all for every writing issue. Everyone faces a block now and then. But if you’re serious about writing, or trying to improve, or looking to build up new habits for the new year, give writing daily a try. Join my December Writing Challenge, or just promise yourself to write every day. You might find that writing daily works for you.

 

December Writing Challenge Kickoff

It’s the December Writing Challenge Kickoff!

Writers, start your engines!

Writing-Challenge-Fireworks

The truth is, this is a low-key challenge. No huge word counts or goals for the month. Just write every day. For full rules, you can check yesterday’s post. Today I’m here for the official writing challenge kickoff, and to provide you with a few more tips to keep you writing through December.

Life goes a little crazy in December. Writers who crave quiet can find it difficult to carve out time to work on their current projects. Thoughts turn to lists of gifts to buy and plans to make. Everyone wants your attention, your time, your participation. Your boss needs something done before the holiday break. Your kids want you to take them to see Santa. Hanukkah starts on the early side. Your in-laws plan to visit. Suddenly your sister’s turned vegetarian, throwing a spanner in your holiday dinner menu. And you love it all, because the holidays are a wonderful time of year. But… you also love to write.

Tips for Getting to Your Desk

Make yourself a priority. The key to writing regularly is telling yourself, and everyone else, that writing is just as important as any other vital thing on your to-do list. Commit to your writing, and to yourself.

  • Schedule your writing time on your calendar. Write it in like a doctor’s appointment. Set an alert to remind yourself when your writing window begins.
  • Make writing dates with your local writer friends. Agree to meet and do a writing sprint or two at your local coffee shop. No treats or talk until you’ve put in your half hour minimum for the day.
  • Tell your family what you’re doing. Explain that yes, you still plan to do all the normal holiday activities, but writing can’t take a holiday this year and you need to write every day.
  • Set up a signal to let family know it’s your writing time. Whether that’s a sign on your door, a place you sit that’s “writing only,” or a writing sweater you put on, make it clear. When you’re writing, they need to leave you alone unless there’s a blood-or-fire emergency.
  • Don’t limit yourself to your desk/computer. Grab a pen and a notebook and find somewhere to hide. Dust off a corner of your attic, pick a favorite spot in your local library, go to the café that has no wifi and write your heart out for a while.

Writing should not be something you steal time to do. You do not write at the expense of other things. If it matters to you, it’s earned its own space. Assign it time, and honor that commitment. And remember, all the words count, and it all adds up.

Happy writing! Don’t forget to check out the #DecWritingChallenge tag on Twitter to see who else has joined the challenge and for ongoing cheerleading. Plus, spread the word about today’s writing challenge kickoff! I’ll be back here later today with this week’s Friday Links.