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.

Friday Links: Random Inspiration for Weekend Writing

Happy Friday, everyone, and welcome to August! Can’t quite believe it’s already so far into 2017. I hope you’re all having a good month so far and have some excellent plans lined up for your weekend. I’ve got a lot of reading on my plate, between some client projects and submissions backlog, so you know what I’m goiong to be doing. However, I’ve got a fun assortment of links to share with you today, and I hope they encourage you to find a little time for your own reading and writing along with whatever else you’ve got on the calendar. Enjoy, and happy writing!

Illustrating the Arc of a Series – A lovely look at cover design, specifically for Fran Wilde’s Bone Universe books, over the course of a series.

On the Radar: YA Books You Need This Month – Some terrific young adult reads to check out in August.

Jason Reynolds Is the Hardest-Working Man in Washington – A profile of the talented, prolific author, who has three books landing this fall.

The Book Lover’s Guide to Publishing Part 2: Publishing Process – A continuation of the series on publishing at the Penguin Random House blog.

The Rise of Dystopian Fiction: From Soviet Dissidents to 70’s Paranoia to Murakami – Take a look at the different stages of the genre and pick up a few book recommendations in the process.

Sam Shepard on Writing, Reading, and the Promise of Eternal Love – Selections from letters the late actor/playwright sent to Johnny Dark.

Interview with YA Author Jason Reynolds

Today I’m sharing this interview with young adult author Jason Reynolds from the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. Reynolds spoke on a panel I attended and I thought he had some insightful and interesting things to say about young adult fiction and his own work, so I was delighted to find this PBS on-site interview available online.