Friday Links: Stories Only You Can Tell

This week I’m focused on the idea that there are stories only you can tell. Writers sometimes struggle to find their unique voice. But often the problem lies in trying to tell a story that has no personal connection.

Last weekend, at the Surrey International Writers’ Conference, I listened to a number of very different keynote speeches. Tetsuro Shigematsu shared tales of family, of his relationships with his sisters, his father, and how they influenced the stories he told. Amal El-Mohtar spoke of belonging, of the sense memory of scent and how a whiff of something familiar and beloved can draw you into a community. Mary Robinette Kowal spoke about mechanics and voice and that something else that draws you in–or rather her charming puppet did. Liza Palmer talked about being real on the page, and the importance of being real in life first. These writers, and many others over the course of the conference, dug deep into themselves to tap into their stories. They shared personal moments, and in doing so, chose specific details to make the narrative relatable.

When writing fiction, writers dig just as deeply into their psyches to make their stories sing. Every story you write is your own story, whether you mine true-life experiences or let your imagination roam. Find the bits that touch your heart, make you laugh or cry. The choices you make will reveal your unique voice, and will result in stories only you can tell.

This week’s collection of links is something of a hodgepodge, but I hope you will consider them in light of the above. Think about it while reading great books, while working on your current project, while going for a run. Enjoy, and happy writing.

This Week’s Links

I Talked to 150 Writers and Here’s the Best Advice They Had. – A great collection of tidbits from a wide selection of authors.

How a kid who didn’t read a book until he was 17 grew up to become a literary star. – Short interview with award-winning YA author Jason Reynolds.

13 new Halloween reads to chill, amuse, inform, and terrify. – Some books to add to your seasonal TBR pile this weekend.

23 Writing Competitions to Enter Before the End of the Year. – A varied list of competitions with upcoming deadlines.

50 Great Narrative Nonfiction Books. – Some wonderful nonfiction to break up that pile of novels you’re working on, inform, inspire, and entertain.

The original synopsis of Harry Potter that J.K. Rowling sent to publishers has been revealed. – A few caveats: Rowling probably sent this (or something similar) to agents, and ultimately her agent sent it to publishers. It’s just the first page, as visible in the new British Library exhibit. Finally, it is definitely the synopsis, not the pitch or query as was declared by BuzzFeed elsewhere. But it gives a great idea of the pacing and level of detail for a synopsis. I’d guess this runs about 2-3 pages total.

Cold War Noir: 10 Novels that Defined an Anxious Era. – Given current politics, these types of novels are once again all the rage.

Necessary Whimsy: Vampire Bunnies and Other Weird-But-Fun Halloween Reads. – For anyone looking for a little humor with their  horror this year.

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: The Fly-By Edition

Happy Friday, everyone! This is my last weekend in town for a while, as I’ve got back-to-back conferences coming up, so I’m going to keep this short but sweet. As you might imagine, I’ve a very long to-do list about now. So without further ado, I offer up this week’s links. Enjoy, and don’t forget to put aside some writing time!

26 Maps Reveal a New York City Hiding in Plain Sight – Writing about New York? Pondering the different sides of a city — any city? These might give you some ideas.

Bullet Journaling for Fiction Writers – Ideas for organizing your thoughts, research, writing schedule, and more.

What Makes a Children’s Book Good? – A discussion of pretty much what the title states.

Alexandra Kleeman & Lincoln Michel: On Genre, Influence, and Getting Weird in Fiction – Two writers known for their short fiction discuss the format and their own perspectives on writing.

Why Melissa de la Cruz’s Immigration Story Matters Now – A look at the author’s new book and her experiences as an immigrant to the U.S.

Study Storied Women with Iowa’s International Writing Program – Details on a new, free online writing course offered by the University of Iowa.

The Literature of Creepy Clowns – Fitting, given the approach of Halloween and also the strange clown threats popping up across the country.

Friday Links: Witches, Word Play, and Women as the Face of Evil

allhdpictures_blueHalloween

TGIF! End of the week, on the cusp of Halloween, and nearly ready to turn the clocks back an hour here in most of the U.S. and a few other spots that are in sync with us. (Yes, that’s this weekend.) I wish I could say I was looking forward to an extra hour of reading, but like many people I suspect, I’m actually looking forward to an extra hour of sleep.

I’ve been in post-conference mode this week, trying to catch up on email and work reading, and feeling like my office is just a bit too quiet after spending a few days talking books and writing with so many wonderful people. Most of the time I enjoy working from home because I don’t have the temptation of lots of coworkers to talk to or to take breaks with, but it’s still lovely to have a chance to chat business and bookish obsessions with likeminded folk. It reminds me of all the things I enjoy about this industry and leaves me charged up to find great new manuscripts to help shepherd into the world.

But I’m happy to say I have a great collection of links this week, including the last of the Halloween-ish ones that keep grabbing my attention. I hope you find them fun and interesting, and maybe even inspirational, because a couple of these seem like excellent research material for a very cool project. Happy Halloween, everyone, and happy writing!

The Conspiracy Against a Good Night’s Sleep – Tobias Carroll on the things that scare us.

The Key of Hell: An 18th-Century Manual of Black Magic – A bit disturbing, but interesting nonetheless. The page includes further links to articles on magic etc.

Why Are Old Women often the Face of Evil in Fairy Tales and Folklore? – An intriguing (and slightly depressing) story from the folks at NPR.

Alex Mar’s Journey into the Occult – An interview regarding the author’s new book, Witches of America.

American Writers Museum Slated to Open in Chicago in 2017 – This will be the first U.S. museum to celebrate American writers, including authors of books and poetry, journalists, and prominent contributors to social media.

In the Sandbox of Words: On Puzzles and Novels – A look at the connection between wordplay and writing.

Really, Really Big Books: A Reading List – Some excellent fat books to check out if you’re looking for a doorstop for a chilly fall/winter night.

The Writer’s Guide to Essential Gear – Writer and artist Danny Gregory provides a helpful list of all the tools he uses for his writing.

Friday Links: Hauntings of All Sorts

Greetings from Surrey, B.C., Canada, where I’m attending the Surrey International Writers’ Conference. For those of you looking to attend an excellent, all-genre conference in the next year or two, I highly recommend this one. Great organizers, programming to meet a wide variety of interests and skill levels, and an excellent faculty-to-writer ratio.

Just because I’ve escaped to cooler climes (it’s actually autumn here!), doesn’t mean I have forgotten about Friday links. I’ve got a nice array this week, and I hope they leave you inspired and excited to read and/or write this weekend. Enjoy!

Get Booked Episode 4: Haunted by Horror – This is a relatively new podcast from the folks at Book Riot, where they recommend books in response to a few questions from readers, in this case with a great Halloween/horror theme.

How I Got Millayed – A lovely look at how the author became intrigued by the poet Edna St. Vincent Millay.

How Libraries Acquire Books – An interesting peek behind the process.

Margaret Atwood on Vampires, Gene-Splicing, and Talking Turnips – Because my going to Canada calls for an appropriately Canadian author link.

Stacy Schiff: By the Book – The author (most recently of The Witches, about the Salem witch trials) talks books, writers, and influences.

Friday Links

Happy Friday! I’m currently in Surrey, B.C, Canada, for the Surrey International Writer’s Conference, but by the magic of the internet, I’ve left you some links to keep you busy this weekend. I hope you’ve all set aside some time for reading and/or writing, and that inspiration proves kind. Happy writing!

Opportunities for Writers: November and December 2014 – A list of places to submit your writing with upcoming deadlines. Did you resolve to submit your work in 2014? Better hurry up if you haven’t crossed it off your list!

45 YA Titles for Your October – December Radar – A terrific roundup of young adult books releasing the last quarter of the year.

Roxane Gay and Lena Dunham on Online Criticism – An interesting conversation between two writers, each with a recent collection of essays and a whole lot of experience with the interwebs.

NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month kicks off November 1st, and the updated 2014 version of the website with all its tips and support strategies has gone live. Head over and check it out!

October Books: A Reading List for the Month of Harvests and Horror – Great reading recommendations for October, including the requisite scary stories for Halloween.

Friday Links

Another very speedy week, at least for me. So much going on right now that I feel like the days just aren’t long enough. But that’s vastly preferable to the alternative; I hate when things are slow.

So this is more of a fly-by post than anything. I bring you lots of fun, interesting links to entertain you into the weekend. I hope you have a lovely one, filled with books and writing and whatever else makes you smile. Enjoy!

Season of the Dead – Colleen Mondor’s October column for Bookslut features some wonderfully spooky looking fiction for anyone looking for a Halloween read.

Neil Gaiman: Why Our Future Depends on Libraries, Reading, and Daydreaming – This has been making the rounds, but if you haven’t checked it out, it’s definitely worth a read.

The Jealous Curator – An interesting interview with artist and graphic designer Danielle Krysa, talking about creativity.

Rise and Shine: The Daily Routines of History’s Most Creative Minds – Further proof that there is  no one right way to approach your art.

13 of the Year’s Creepiest Books – Some more suggestions for seasonal reading.

Friday Links

October is well underway and, in my neck of the woods, we’ve even been experiencing weather that suggests the kiss of autumn: a slight chill in the air, that nice crispness in the morning that tells you summer has flown. Mind you, it’ll probably get up around 90 degrees again at least once before the holidays hit, but that’s Southern California for you.

Still, October means Halloween, so I’ve a few links to help you with your scary seasonal reading. Nothing like a few haunted houses or ghosties to put you in the mood. Whatever your plans this weekend, I hope you set aside time to do a bit of writing, and indulge yourself in a good book. Enjoy!

The 50 Scariest Books of All Time – Not all strictly horror, so there’s something for everyone.

The October Science Fiction and Fantasy Books You Can’t Afford to Miss! – A good roundup of new releases.

10 Awesome Secret Passage Bookshelves – Because secret passages seem even more appropriate this time of year.

Canadian Author Alice Munro Wins 2013 Nobel Prize in Literature – A career from short stories, first book published at age 37; proof positive that talent and hard work can win out if you persevere.

James Patterson’s Bookseller Pledge – The best-selling author has pledged $1 million to help independent bookstores. More information available at his website.