Friday Links: Holiday Writing Inspiration

Everyone can use some holiday writing inspiration, and this marks the start of my annual pep talks for the season. We’re heading into Thanksgiving here in the U.S., and from there it’s one occasion after another until New Year’s. I run a December Writing Challenge each year, but I encourage you to schedule your writing all through the holidays.

Check out this week’s links for industry information, ideas on characterization, and ways to drum up that holiday writing inspiration. And keep an eye on this space for more writing challenge information coming soon. Enjoy, and happy writing!

This Week’s Links:

It Is Okay to Change Paths. – Bestselling author Tess Gerritsen talks about changing her career from doctor to writer.

Paper is a wonderful technology. – Austin Kleon shares how an exhibit at the Ransom Center inspired him to embrace his paper notebook.

Ilana Masad on the Shrinking of the Industry, Literary Social Media, and Hidden Criticism. – The writer and podcast host discusses how social media has changed literary criticism, and other shifts in the industry from a reviewer’s point of view.

50 Noteable Works of Fiction in 2017. – The Washington Post weighs in on some of the best titles of the year.

Inside the Dystopian Visions of Margaret Atwood and Louise Erdrich. – At a time when Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale serves as a sort of feminist dystopian bible, Erdrich adds her own take on the idea of reproductive slavery.

Marvel’s Black Panther Rules. Literally. – A wonderful interview with actor Chadwick Boseman, with excellent thoughts regarding how characters build from the setting and politics of a fictional nation in this installment in the MCU.

Tor.com Reviewers’ Choice: The Best Books of 2017. – Another best-of list, with some great titles for your own TBR or gift-buying lists.

A Night at the National Book Awards. – A look into what may by the shiniest event in the U.S. publishing world.

 

Friday Links: Weekend Writing Inspiration

Are you looking for weekend writing inspiration? The end of the year brings so many challenges for writers. Holidays loom, making you plan and shop and rush to finish projects by December 31st. But you still have that writing project that calls to you. Maybe you’re participating in NaNoWriMo or up against a deadline. Or you simply started a new novel and you’re twitching to work on it. Set aside some time this weekend to write. Fight the start of the holiday chaos, and remember to make your writing a priority. I hope the links below will help give you a bit of a kick in the right direction.

This Week’s Links:

Writer’s Digest Short Short Story Competition. – Strapped for time? Try to write a super short story and enter this Writer’s Digest contest. Or look through finished or drafted projects to see what might work.

13 Tips for Actually Getting Some Writing Accomplished. – Author Gretchen Rubin offers some great tips for pushing past your busy calendar and getting words on paper.

Austin Kleon: Pencil vs Computer. – The writer and artist discusses his own process and how different mediums set the mood for stages of his work.

How YA Literature Is Leading the Queer, Disabled Media Revolution. – Looking for ways to be inclusive in your work? Get your weekend writing inspiration from some of these fabulous YA titles.

10 Novels Agents Have Already Seen a Billion Times. – You might want to steer clear of these ideas, or if you have to write one of them, find a great way to turn them on their ear.

Cove Park Literature Residencies: Applications Close 11 December. – Shake up your writing by finding a new place to work, and apply for a writing residency.

Interview with Janet Fitch. – The author discusses research, writing process, and her latest book, The Revolution of Marina M.

Friday Links: The Politics of Reading and Writing

When I talk about the politics of reading and writing, I’m not referring to who won the election. In reading and writing, politics involves being “politically correct.” I put that in quotes for a reason. Because is it really about politics? Or is it about doing what’s right? Social media buzzes with talk about diversity in publishing and books written about lived experiences. Authors debate the dangers of piracy in this digital age. But at the end of the day, everyone deserves a place at the table. Writers should be paid for their efforts. Piracy breaks laws.

Certainly this simplifies things. I won’t argue that there’s no room for discussion on these subjects, or not plenty of shades of gray. But sometimes when we’re writing and thinking about how the results will be received, the most straightforward answer works best. Think about what’s right. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes. This week’s links offer some thoughts on the politics of reading and writing, along with more general interest articles. I hope you find them thought provoking. Enjoy, and happy writing!

This Week’s Links

Maggie Stiefvater talks about piracy. – The author shares her story about book piracy, and how it has affected her personally.

Should You Throw Away Your Books by Garbage People? – The Reading Glasses podcast discusses what to do when you learn an author you love has a problematic personal life. Includes an interview with Jessa Crispin.

How Long Is Writing Supposed to Take? – A writer/editor wonders how long it actually takes to write a book, and if there’s such a thing as too long.

The 2018 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge. – Mix up your reading list next year! This challege offers some suggestions.

November Is Here, Which Means You Can Add These New Scifi and Fantasy Books to Your Shelves. – Check out these new SFF releases for the month.

The Problem with ‘Problematic.’ – Francine Prose discusses the pros and cons of the discussion around diversifying books. (Note, this is not arguing against the need for diversity, but talking about the ways in which the problem is being discussed and where some lines have been drawn.)

Best Books of 2017. – Publishers Weekly offers their somewhat-early list of the best books for the year.

How Do I Pitch to a Publication? – Good tips for anyone looking to pitch to magazines, etc.

Friday Links: Revisit Writing Basics

What does it mean to revisit writing basics? Simply put, this week I’d like you to peel away some of the technology and bells and whistles and look at the bare bones of your writing habit. If you have writer’s block, this approach may help unmoor your ideas. Otherwise, going back to basics for a day or two can renew your creativity in general. A short hand way to think of this approach is “butt in chair, brain in gear.” You might also want to focus on the building blocks of your craft. Read some of your writing aloud, listening for rhythms and word repetition. Maybe forget your fancy computer program and work for a bit in longhand. Write daily and read good books.

I’ve collected the ususal assortment of links this week, with a fair amount of writing advice included. Keep in mind that the best writing style is the one you develop for yourself. So take a look at these varied ideas about writing and apply the ones that work for you. Not every writing trick inspires every writer. I hope at least a few of these will send you to your desk this weekend. Enjoy, and happy writing!

This Week’s Links

Why Digital Note-Taking Will Never Replace the Physical Journal. – Thoughts on why physical journals survive in this digital age.

An Oubliette of Unconventional Writing Advice. – Chuck Wendig offers some entertaining advice on writing advice as a whole, and some common-sense ways to get your work done.

How I Do It: Anne Rice on Writing Technique. – Some very specific ideas on how to approach the art of writing.

London’s Amazing Underground Infrastructure Revealed in Vintage Cutaway Maps. – Fabulous images to inspire either historical or fantasy fiction set in London – or something completely original.

NaNo Prep: Make a Box for Your Bully. – Some excellent advice on silencing that inner editor so you can just write. (Plenty of time to edit when the draft is done.)

Start It Already: How to Start Your Novel – Great tips on how to actually start writing that book, for those of you staring at a blank page/screen.

Friday Links: Autumn Reading and Other Escapes

autumn book stack with apple

Autumn reading always means fatter books and more serious titles for me. Call it back-to-school syndrome. This year autumn reading also sounds like an excellent way to escape the world’s ills. We could all use something to distract us from politics and terrorism, hurricanes and health insurance, if only for a little while. So among this week’s links, I offer some lists of great books to inspire you, but hopefully also a few to help you get lost.

In addition, I have the usual collection of industry-related reads. I hope you find them interesting and entertaining.

Finally, a quick reminder that I am closing to new submissions as of October 10th. You can find complete details here. Wishing you all a wonderful weekend, and some excellent reading and writing time. Enjoy!

Stock Up for Autumn Reading

46 Books We Currently Love Even More than Books in General. – The booksellers at Parnassus Books offer up this wonderful assortment of reads.

2017 National Book Awards. – Check out both the short and long lists of books up for this annual award in the categories of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and young people’s literature.

Here Are 51 New Science Fiction and Fantasy Books to Choose from in October. – Pretty much as described.

Kazuo Ishiguro Wins Nobel Prize in Literature. – If you haven’t read anything by Ishiguro, now is the time to start. His work both entertains and makes you think.

10 Memoirs by Women in the Culinary World. – Are you a foodie or just intrigued by all things culinary? Check out one of these titles.

More Friday Links

The Ripped Bodice Report on Racial Diversity in Romance. – The ladies behind The Ripped Bodice Bookstore took it upon themselves to look into racial diversity in romance publishing. This report looks at the percentage of romance books written by authors of color at various publishing houses. (Warning: It’s disheartening.)

When You Shouldn’t Hire and Pay for a Professional Editor. – Jane Friedman looks at the increase in writers paying for professional editing work, when and when it isn’t actually necessary, and what “professional” means when it comes to an editor.

Here’s Where Your Favorite Modern Novel Was Written. – Peek at the writing spaces of some modern-day writers.

Banned Books Week: Stand Up for Your Freedom to Read

Banned Books Week challenges the idea that anyone can tell you what to read. Or what not to read. This week, look through your TBR pile or scan lists of challenged books. Pick up a title you might not normally choose. Don’t let anyone tell you that a book is too racy or radical or risky for you. Dare to read dangerously.

Every year, the American Library Association tracks what books have been challenged or banned. Challenging a book involves attempting to remove access by a person or group, where banning successfully removes that book. People challenge books for many reasons, objecting to sexual content, religious ideas that conflict with their own, or subjects they find distasteful. Check out the books most frequently challenged, organized by year, and including books for children and young adults, as well as titles challenged for diverse content and even classics.

If you’re interested in recent challenges, the ALA provides handy annual infographics.

Top 10 Most Challenged Books 2016
Artwork courtesy of the American Library Association

Banned Books Week takes place every September, but people challenge or ban books all year long. They attempt to block your access to material that might change your way of thinking or open your mind to new ideas. We fight for the publication of more diverse books, but we must also stand for the right to read them.

Take a Stand

Do you love a book that people threaten to ban? Speak out this week on social media. Tell us why you love that title. If you hear about someone challenging a book in your town or city, make your opinion known. Speak up and explain what makes that book important. Check out the ALA for ways to help, ideas for boosting the signal, and resource materials. Share your love of books by helping to keep them accessible to everyone.

Friday Links: Finding the Best Way to Frame Your Story

Happy Friday, all! I hope you’ve had a wonderful week with some productive writing time and maybe a good book on your nightstand. Heading into the weekend, I’ve some lovely links for you all, and in particular I’d like you to consider how you frame your stories. I don’t just mean the ones you’re writing, but the ones you tell about yourself, your life, your experiences, your daily frustrations.

While not everyone is a writer, we’re all storytellers, so that’s something to think about when you look at the things that might be getting you down. The story is yours to tell, yours to sell, and that includes what you’re telling yourself. A series of rejection letters can be terribly disheartening, but you can also consider them a countdown to an eventual sale.

Without further ado, here are this week’s Friday Links. Enjoy, and happy writing!

How Writing Let Me Take Control of My Own Story – One writer’s disconnect between her writing and her life.

This Is Going to Be about Heroes – Author Maggie Stiefvater on heroism and finding the right way to tell a story.

When Reading Isn’t Enough: Book-Adjacent Hobbies – For book fanatics who love all the bookish things.

The Book-Lovers Guide to Publishing, Part 1: Publishing Ephemera – The first in a series of publishing-related blog posts from Penguin Books.

So You’ve Decided to Write: The Best Way to Deal with Rejection – Some tips on how to move past ‘No’.

My Own Kind of Beautiful: How Geography Affects the Writing Process – One writer’s take on how travel affects his work and what it means to be ready to write about a place.

$5,000 Grants for Writers and Artists with Children: Applications Open until 31 August – 20 grants are available this year for writers and artists with children, to be used for child care, new equipment, or any other number of things.

Friday Links: Writing from Different Perspectives

Happy Friday! There’s another hot, sunny weekend on the horizon, and I fully intend to spend the majority of it indoors with my nose in a book. Why? Because this weekend is the 24 in 48 Readathon, one of my favorite events of the year, and it is my excuse to get a lot of reading done and not feel guilty about putting off the laundry or ignoring my other weekend chores. The readathon kicks off midnight ET on Saturday morning and runs through the end of Sunday, and there’s still time to sign up in you want to join in the fun.

Before I get to reading, however, I need to get some more work done, so I will be leaving you here with this week’s Friday Links so I can go be productive. Wishing you all a wonderful weekend, filled with reading and writing and all good things. Enjoy!

Known Alias: How Stephen King Was Outed as Richard Bachman – An interesting look at how the famous author’s pseudonym became public.

Are We So Unwilling to Take Sylvia Plath at Her Word – In light of recent revelations regarding Plath’s relationship with husband Ted Hughes, important questions as to whether the information was really new, and what that says about how women are treated.

Sherman Alexie’s Heartbreaking Reason for Pausing His Book Tour – A bit of a ghost story.

Rebecca Solnit on a Childhood of Reading and Wandering – A love letter to libraries and the areas around them.

Difference Is an Asset: Writing in a Second Language – How a challenge can shift a writer’s perspective.

6 Reasons Aspiring Writers Should Act More Like Musicians – A touch harsh, perhaps, but still offers some basic, down-to-earth advice regarding putting one’s nose to the grindstone and getting the work done.

 

Friday Links: Assorted Inspiration for Readers and Writers

Happy Friday! I’m not certain where this week has gone. Last week was short, so I expected this week to drag, and yet it flew by and I still have a handful of things to tackle from my to-do list before I can call it the weekend. So no fancy themes or writing philosophies this week, just a fun set of links that I hope you find entertaining and inspiring to kick off the weekend. Enjoy, and happy writing!

170 YA Books Hitting Shelves This Summer – A huge list of upcoming new releases, with something for everyone.

10 Great Spy Thrillers that Could Be New York Times’ Headlines – For anyone feeling like the recent U.S./Russia news is reminiscent of the Cold War.

How to Be a Writer on Social Media: Advice from Roxane Gay, Alexander Chee, Celeste Ng, and Adam M. Grant – Tips on how to negotiate the social media mine field and get the most from various platforms.

Why Read a Utopian Novel in 2017? – Because there’s a lot to be said for imagining the world solving some of its more pressing problems, even if others crop up.

$20,000 for a 100-Word Story: The Museum of Words Flash Fiction Contest – Details and rules for this lucrative prize.

11 Very Short Stories You Must Read Immediately – Good reading for busy schedules.

Liu Xiaobo, Nobel Peace Prize laureate imprisoned in China, dies at 61 – An obituary for the noted writer and dissident.

Friday Links: Reading Your Way into Summer

TGIF! It’s been a long and not-so-terrific week for me, filled with insurance talk: car insurance to handle the repairs to my new car after it was rear-ended on Sunday, and the health insurance machinations in Washington, D.C. all over the news and social media. My reaction? I really just want to go hide and read a good book.

Reading has always been my reaction to stress. Sometimes I reach for a feel-good favorite, while other times I want to read about people solving their problems so I know there’s hope that things will turn around. Books really are my answer to most everything. So this week’s links come down heavy on the book talk and recommendations. It’s officially summer, so let the great seasonal book binge commence. (And if you’re in the southern hemisphere, well, curling up with a book is still a good idea.) Wishing you all a wonderful weekend filled with productive writing time and lots of excellent stories. Enjoy!

10 Famous Book Hoarders – Check out these enormous book collections and the people who own them.

The 17 Best Young Adult Novels of 2017 – Some terrific sounding titles to add to your TBR pile, or your kids’.

Now Is the Time to Read These 11 Novels about Female Artists – Delve into the worlds of these fascinating and talented women.

24 in 48 July Readathon Sign-Ups – The 24 in 48 readathon has been set for July 22-23, and sign-ups are officially open. For the uninitiated, this readathon involves trying to spend 24 hours reading over the course of two days (so, 24 out of 48). There’s lots of chatter on social media during the readathon about what everyone’s reading and loving (or not), snacking on, using for a quick break, and so on, plus fun challenges to keep things interesting for anyone who feels like playing along. I highly recommend, even if you can only join in for a few hours.

Speaking from the Shadows: 5 Books that Tell the Monster’s Story – One obvious choice, but this is still a great list if this perspective interests you, or you just want a change of pace.

A Brief History of Pen Names – An interesting look at some of the reasons writers have used pen names through the years.

The Story Museum – If you live near or are visiting Oxford, England, this museum sounds like a must-see for anyone with a literary bent, young or old.

Leading Ladies in Lit: 16 Books with Fierce Female Protagonists – Pretty much what it says on the box. Some terrific sounding titles here.

Science Fiction Short Story Collections by Authors of Color – Book Riot compiled these recommendations as part of a celebration of what would have been Octavia Butler’s 70th birthday.