Friday Links: Getting Your Writing into the World

Happy Friday! It’s a rainy day here in SoCal, and I’m looking at a long weekend of reading — mostly manuscripts. But last night I took a bit of time out and watched the documentary Finding Vivian Maier (on Netflix), about the nanny whose enormous collection of photography was only discovered after her death. Maier was a talented photographer with a great eye and interesting perspective, and the vast majority of her work consists of street portraits. Fascinating as the documentary was, there was also something sad about seeing such amazing work and knowing that the artist behind it died before receiving any acknowledgement of her talent. Her small efforts at having the work printed up came too late, most everything remained boxed up as negatives, and she never knew the impact her images have had on the public.

All of this is to say, don’t forget to share your writing. Unless you truly have no interest in being read or published, you need to get your work out there. Submit. Join a writing group. Find an open mic night that allows writers to share snippets of their works in progress. Take a workshop. Because doing the work is only part of the equation, and writing needs readers.

And now, on to this week’s Friday Links. It’s a hodgepodge of sorts, but I think there’s something interesting for everyone. Wishing you a wonderful weekend of reading and writing, and I offer you a challenge: Choose one writing-related thing to do next week that will help you get your work out there. Enjoy!

Author Ted Chiang Reveals How Arrival Went from Page to Screen – The author discusses his short story and its road to Hollywood.

Met Museum Makes 375,000 Images Free – Get access to a huge wealth of art and other images now available to use as you see fit.

My Job Writing Custom Erotic Love Letters – How one writer paid the bills after her divorce.

Prairie Schooner Book Prize – Last call — entry deadline March 15th.

7 Tips to Help You Self-Edit Your Novel – From the folks at NaNoWriMo, some advice on how to whip that first (or second or third) draft into shape.

What’s in a Fairytale? 5 Helpful Starting Points – Tips for anyone looking to write their own fairytale-esque work.

100 Must-Read Modern Classics – One person’s list, but it has some great titles on it. Handy reference.

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.

Twitter Pitch Fest with The Knight Agency!

Twitter_Logo_Hd_Png_01-300x237The Knight Agency celebrates 20 years in business in July, so to kick things off with a bang we’ve announced our first ever Twitter Pitch Fest. The pitch fest takes place tomorrow, June 29th, from 9am to 5pm Eastern Time under the hashtag #TKA20. You’re welcome to pitch us any genre that we as an agency represent, as long as you have not already submitted it to us through normal channels. TKA agents will “like” your Tweet to indicate interest. Full details, including how to follow up on agent interest, are available on TKA’s blog here.

I’m currently seeking projects in the following genres: Women’s fiction, single-title romance (including contemporary, historical, romantic suspense, paranormal), historical fiction, fantasy, science fiction, and young adult and middle grade fiction. In addition, I’ve updated my Wish List with some things I’d especially love to see.

We’re all very excited about this Twitter Pitch Fest, so I hope to see many of you out there participating!

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: Emerging from the Writing Cave

Some weeks get away from us, one project or another eating all of our time to the point where, waking up on Friday feels akin to stepping off a roller coaster that left your knees a touch wobbly and the earth not quite solid beneath your feet. This can happen with any occupation or hobby, but for writers it might seem even more disorienting if they’ve spent that roller coaster ride involved with a fictional world. A number of this week’s links focus on the sorts of big projects that a person can sink into, emerging later with a fresh perspective. I hope they inspire you to delve deep with your own work in progress this weekend, or to lose yourself in a wonderful fat book. Happy writing!

Fast Draft Hell: 7 Lessons I Learned (Almost) Writing a Novel in 14 Days – An intriguing look at the experience of writing a really fast first draft.

12 Things I Noticed While Reading Every Short Story Published in 2014-15 – On patterns discovered and realizations made over the course of a major reading experience.

“A’ghailleann”: On Language-Learning and the Decolonisation of the Mind – Looking at the cultural significance of learning a colonized language.

The First Science Fiction Novel?: Kelly Link and John Crowley Discuss The Chemical Wedding – Regarding the project to bring out a new edition of the 17th century work.

If You Use This Font... – A fun graphic matching fonts with personalities.

Joe Hill Remembers Where He Came From (Part One) – An in-depth interview with the author. Second part linked from bottom of the first.

The Whole Spy’s Guide to the Internet: Untangling the Web – Trying to explain would just ruin this for you. Just read it. You’ll thank me.

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.

 

FYI: Where in the World Is…

I’m happy to share the addition of a new page on the site, one dedicated to keeping track of my travel schedule in terms of conferences and other events I plan to attend/participate in. Conferences and Other Travel can be found as  a drop-down link in the top navigation bar, beneath About.

The idea is not just to let you know what I’m up to, but to give you a chance to connect with me if I’m in your neck of the woods. While some events are obviously the sort that require registration, others will be more me-in-the-neighborhood, such as the LA Times Book Festival (free to attend), book signings, etc. Hope to see you around!

Friday Links: Recommit to Your Writing Goals

Happy Friday, everyone! And a very happy Easter to those of you celebrating this weekend. I suspect anyone dealing with bunnies and eggs and midnight services might not get a whole lot of writing done over the next few days, but that still leaves a few days on the other side of the weekend to address what I’m going to talk about next, which is the end of the month — and therefore the end of the first quarter of 2016.

Ah, snuck up on you, didn’t it? Kind of hard to believe we’re just about three months into the year, but we are. So I challenge you to take an hour or two between now and April 1st to take a peek at your list of goals for this year and see how you’re doing. On track? Need to recommit? Can you cross anything off? Maybe things have changed and you need to rework one or more goal in light of those changes. Only you can say for certain, but now is the perfect time to make those decisions and figure out where you go from here. And for those of you who didn’t make any writing goals for 2016, it’s never too late to start! We still have nine months ahead of us and it’s amazing how much you can do in that amount of time.

As for this week’s links, I hope they inspire you in your commitment to your goals and maybe help you get them done. Enjoy, and happy writing!

Lynn Steger Strong On Writing Characters Too Nuanced to Be Reduced – An interesting article with some thoughts on making characters deep and true.

Opportunities for Writers: April and May 2016 – A list of fellowships, competitions, etc. where you can submit your writing in the next couple of months.

Before You Blow Up Your Life, Do This – Jonathan Fields on knowing when not to quit your day job.

Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon – Sign-ups are now open for this fun readathon scheduled for April 23rd. A great way to set aside some time specifically for catching up with your reading.

The Life of a Book: An Interview with Editor Brant Rumble, Part 1 – The first in a series from Penguin Random House tracing the book’s journey from manuscript to bookstore.

On Terrible Writing Advice from Famous Writers – A humorous reminder to always think for yourself and filter what you hear.

Want to Write for Book Riot? – The bookish site is currently seeking new contributors.

 

Writing in Public: Crafting a Professional Image

(c) Can Stock Photo/ Kesu
(c) Can Stock Photo/ Kesu

There’s a saying: Dress for the job you want, not the job you have. Well, writers often work in comfy sweats or their pajamas, but the underlying concept still holds true. Writing is a business like any other, and even if you can do the job in solitude, you will eventually need to create a network of colleagues and readers in order to advance your career. You want to consider your public image long before people know who you are, because the things you say and do now — whether in the real world or online — set the scene for your future.

Presenting a professional image starts before you sign onto social media. It starts with determining the image you wish to portray in all facets of your writing career, and that’s something you should think about before you have a book deal. Your professional image affects how you interact with your critique partners — even if they’re your friends, the way you portray yourself in a query letter or at a writer’s conference, and how you handle both your successes and your failures.

Some aspects of being professional might seem obvious. We’ve all seen the writer on Twitter who phrases something poorly or offers up an unpopular opinion and finds themselves in a fast-escalating situation because they refuse to apologize or back out gracefully. There might be name-calling and other rude behavior that’s easily pegged as unprofessional. But what about the less obvious aspects of the job? Here are a few things to consider when you’re fashioning your own professional demeanor.

Treat writing as a job, not a hobby. If you reach the stage where you’re sending out queries, you need to present yourself in a professional, business-like manner.

  • Have your own email address using your own name. There’s no reason to use your joint family email account with your spouse’s name in the From: field. Save that for personal communications, and get yourself a gmail or yahoo address that’s just for you.
  • Do your research. Send submissions per an agency’s guidelines. Be sure they’re looking for the sort of material you’re querying. If you’re cutting and pasting your query letter, double check that you’ve updated both the email address and the name of the agent before you hit send. Don’t forget to proofread.
  • Be sure to follow up with an agent if you receive an offer of representation from someone else, and either thank them for their consideration or ask if they can decide on your material within a reasonable window (depending how soon you need to respond to your existing offer). Don’t leave an agent to read your work a few weeks down the line only to discover it’s no longer available for representation.
  • Keep in mind that a writing career can span decades and you are building a community. You may work with a person down the line who initially rejects you, so maintain good relationships even if you’re not teaming up right now.

Use common sense at public events. If you’re attending readings, conferences, lectures, or any other event where you’ll be representing yourself as a writer, keep your business hat on, even if you’re there with friends and being social.

  • If there’s alcohol, don’t over do it. You don’t want to lose control of your actions or what you’re saying.
  • Be prepared to network. Have business cards with you that include your website and email address, and keep a small notebook and a pen or pencil handy.
  • Be aware of any behavioral guidelines set down by the organizing body, and be sure you adhere to them.
  • Don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself if harassed or put in a vulnerable position. Part of being professional is holding other professionals to the same standard.
(c) Can Stock Photo/ marish
(c) Can Stock Photo/ marish

Approach social media as if dealing with a group of gossipy teenagers. Understand that as nice and intelligent as everyone might seem, there will always be a few people out there looking to get the dirt, to start an argument simply to gain a higher profile, or just to be mean.

  • Keep the business details of your business to yourself. I don’t mean you shouldn’t announce when you’ve signed a book deal, but be careful not to discuss it before you know it’s finalized. If you’re unsure what’s safe to disclose, you’re better off not sharing it. But you can always talk to your agent or editor to find out when certain information — that you’ve sold the book, what your cover art looks like, your release date, etc. — can go public.
  • Never talk about the who/what/where while things are still in play. When your agent has your manuscript out on submission or is negotiating a deal, you should never discuss the process online: not which agents or which imprints or how you think it’s going. It’s tempting to get excited and want to provide updates, but editors can go online, too, and you don’t want to inadvertently weaken your agent’s ability to negotiate by giving away vital information. So keep it off your blog and Facebook and Twitter.

Remember that the internet rarely differentiates between your private and professional selves. Once you put yourself out there wearing your writer’s hat and people get to know you, it will become impossible to have personal moments online except in spaces you lock down. Take precautions to stay safe.

  • Consider maintaining a friends-and-family-only Facebook page separate from your author page, with security settings that keep anyone else from seeing your photos and vacation chatter. Only “friend” a small, select group of people. This will give you a place to engage with those you love without worrying about policing yourself.
  • Be careful about announcing easily identifiable information about yourself on the internet, such as landmarks near your house, your day job, or where your kids attend school. Most people are lovely and will respect your privacy, but stalkers do exist and you don’t need to be a best-selling author or hugely famous to have someone decide they want to follow you in real life.
  • If you will be traveling for personal reasons — as in, not a conference or book signing, etc. — wait until after the trip to share with your readers/fans. Don’t talk the trip up ahead of time, or announce where you’ll be.

And yes, the internet is forever. Or at least close enough. Things you say and regret, even if you delete them, have a habit of turning up when you least expect it.

  • Apologize if you say something that hurts other people. Whether you phrased something badly and it was misunderstood or you genuinely did not understand what you said was offensive, apologize, and state that you’ll do your best not to make the same mistake. Everyone’s human, and most people will understand if you’re genuinely contrite.
  • Realize that there will always be things that will cause an argument online, and pick your battles. Some issues will be more important to you and you will take a stand. Others will probably still be important but maybe less of a priority. Decide what is worth fighting for and what you’re willing to walk away from, in the interest of having time to write and live your life outside of social media.
  • Avoid knee-jerk reactions. If something gets you hot under to collar, take a breath or two before you respond. You may change your mind, or you may not, but decide how you’re going to respond (or if you’re going to respond) with a clear head.

 

Welcome to the Writing and Rambling Relaunch!

canstockphoto_WelcomeMat

Welcome to the new home of Writing and Rambling! I’ve been talking about making the move to a self-hosted site for a long time but just never seemed to get around to it. Although I write about topics related to work, this site has always been a labor of love, somewhere I can chat about books and writing and agent life. It lets me reach out in a small way to all the aspiring writers and die-hard readers and the folks who are simply curious about the world of publishing. Moving Writing and Rambling to this new space will allow me a little more flexibility in terms of changing the appearance of the site and adding more features, and I’m excited to have finally taken the leap. So please update your bookmarks and join me!

Those of you coming over from the previous location will note the shiny new look, but rest assured that all the posts have migrated and the links all seem to be working. I’ll be adding new pages and other features to the blog as we go — you might notice a few new social media links to the right — as well as updating existing features, but for now the content remains pretty much as it always was. If you’re looking for a specific post, all you need to do is update the root of the URL to http://nepheletempest.com/ and leave everything after the .com on your old link the same. That should take you to any page you wish to find.

Anyone who previously subscribed to the site at the old location in order to receive an email when I update, please hang tight as I’ve put in a request to the good WordPress people to migrate my subscription list over to this site. As soon as that takes place, notifications shall resume. If you don’t wish to wait, there’s a subscription opt-in at the top right of the navigation section, but you may end up with duplicate notifications if you received them before.

Business as usual will resume here in a day or two, and the old site will begin to redirect to this location. Thanks to all of you have been reading and commenting for the last few years, and welcome, everyone, to this new, relaunched version of Writing and Rambling. Have a wonderful day, and don’t forget to get some writing done.