Friday Links: Writers on Process and Intention

Happy Friday, all! I’m having another one of those long, busy weeks leading into an equally busy weekend, so I’m just going to wish you all some great reading and writing time over the next couple of days and leave you with some links I hope provide excellent inspiration. Among them are a few profiles of talented writers, sharing process and experiences. Every writer has their own approach, interests, background, etc. It’s part of what makes this such a fascinating career; no one can really give you a road map to success. You need to find your own path, based on your own interests and goals.

So without further ado, here are this week’s links. Enjoy and happy writing!

Who’s Afraid of Claire Messud? – A fascinating interview with the writer, delving into her background and the types of characters that interest her.

Why We Read and Why We Write – Thoughts on what we gain from the reading and writing processes.

Marlon James Needs Noise to Write (and Other Revelations) – A nice long conversation with the author (close to 50 minutes long, so plan accordingly) about writing as work and the importance of curiosity.

The Book Lover’s Guide to Publishing Part 3: Printing & Production Process – The next installment in the series being posted at the Penguin Books blog.

PBS to Unveil America’s Favorite Books in New TV Series – Public broadcasting will be bringing out a new eight-part documentary on reading in America.

Let’s Get Graphic: 100 Favorite Comics and Graphic Novels – A fabulous list of some of the best works available in comics form, from graphic novels to online comics, as chosen by NPR fans.

Working for the Queen of Spies: Kate Quinn and Stephanie Dray Discuss “The Alice Network” – Kate Quinn talks about the writing of her new work of historical fiction and the real-life espionage group that served as her foundation.

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.

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.

Want to Be an Author? Finish Something

Writers write, but authors publish. If you want to go from writer to author, the first step is to finish something, then go back and rewrite it until it is ready for submission. But finishing that first draft really is key. It’s impossible to edit a blank page, and equally impossible to sell something without an ending.

Most writers starting out have written plenty of beginnings. They get an idea and sit down to write. They rush through those first pages filled with excitement, developing cool characters and describing the setting and sending everyone off on their adventure brimming with conflict. But then something happens around page fifty. Maybe page 100 if they are lucky and have plenty of momentum. The writing starts to slow down. That initial idea is no longer sufficient to carry the action forward. More is required, and the beginning writer isn’t sure just what that more entails.

And then comes the shiny new idea.

Everyone’s had them, sometimes even while staring at the computer screen, willing the current idea to shape up and get marching. That niggling thought — a weird new hero, a fantastic scenario, a compelling situation, a snippet of dialogue in the back of the brain — that sounds like the answer to everything. Because this new shiny idea feels so much better than the work in progress. It’s new! It’s shiny! It’s so much more exciting! And it lures you away from the current project that hasn’t been behaving and into its shiny clutches.

Before you knows what’s happened, you have a stockpile of beginnings. Partial novels that have never even made it to the half-way point. Because there is always a shiny new idea lurking around the corner, looking to distract you. The more ideas you have, the more ideas you get. It’s the way creativity seems to work. But there are several problems with this.

  • Shiny new ideas are not actually always good ideas. Sometimes they’re just plain ordinary ideas that, if given time, will fade completely from your mind and go unmissed.
  • Chasing shiny new ideas means setting aside current projects and never finishing anything. And you can’t sell something that’s not finished.
  • Writing the middle and the end of a story requires different skills than writing beginnings, and you can’t get better at writing middles and ends if you never actually write them. You want to hone all your skills as a writer, not just some of them.

Shiny new ideas will always pop up and wave at you, but it is vital that you set them aside and continue with whatever project is currently on your plate. That doesn’t mean forget them entirely. Jot down notes in your journal, start a computer file for the potential new project, and then get back to business. Consider that shiny idea on the to-do pile. Maybe you’ll get back to it in a year and find it’s percolated into something wonderful, or maybe you’ll wonder what the hell you where thinking. Either way, it gets its due eventually, and you get to push through and finish the project at hand.

But what about the argument that the new idea is better or more interesting than the one you’re writing? Of course it seems that way. The new idea is a mystery. You’ve spent virtually no time thinking about it, which leaves it wide open to play with. The current idea, on the other hand, is starting to come together. You understand the characters more than you did at the beginning, you’ve begun to piece together the plot, and things have moved forward. The easy thinking has been accomplished, and you need to dig deeper. Further the conflict, ask tough questions, maybe backtrack on a couple of points. You are past all the surface material and mining for treasure, and that’s work. Hard work. Of course the idea of something new and shiny appeals. That doesn’t make it better.

Writers write, and if all you want to do is write, you can play with as many ideas as you wish. But published authors commit to finishing their projects and resist the distraction of every new idea that catches the light. Of course, occasionally there are projects you find just aren’t working and you decide to abandon them, but that’s a question of the project’s merit, not the distraction of a shiny new idea. So when the next little tidbit flits along and catches your eye, tuck it into a folder for future thought and get back to work.

Friday Links: Reading and Writing in Tumultuous Times

It’s been a tumultuous week. I try not to get overly political on this blog, especially since I have no such qualms on Twitter, so I will simply say that as we watch our leadership charge forward with a seemingly endless attack on civil and human rights in this country, it’s important to keep an eye on all the reasons we’re standing up and speaking up for ourselves and the people around us. Real lives depend on the rules and regulations being tossed about, whether because they desperately require the safety net of health insurance, they seek asylum from a war-torn nation or an unsafe household, or because their words or art or music bring a bit of joy into our world. Our children deserve to breathe clean air and drink safe water. And we all have the right to speak out and hold our elected officials accountable for their words and deeds. The scope of this week’s insanity means I could easily continue listing off rights that are in jeapordy, but that’s not what you’re here to read. I’m just going to move on to this week’s links, and wish you all a safe, sane week to come. Try to take time for yourself, for some reading and writing, but understand that if it’s a struggle, you’re not alone.

Why “1984” Is a 2017 Must-Read – Orwell’s classic has been flying off shelves this week, and the publisher went back to print. Here’s a quick look at why.

Spine Design: 16 Sexy and Striking Book Spines – A little peek at the world of book design.

Writers’ Residences at Vermont Studio Center: Fellowship Applications Close February 15 – If you’re looking for a chance to get away and write.

75 Books for the Next Four Years – A list that includes politics, but also an excellent range of fiction, philosophy, history, and more.

How Screenwriter and “All Our Wrong Todays” Author Elan Mastai Writes: Part One – First segment of a podcast interview with the writer, looking at his love of science fiction, his early start in screenwriting, and his debut novel. Scroll down past the podcast itself for a transcript.

Roxane Gay Pulls Book, Protesting Breitbart Editor’s “Egregious” Book Deal – A quick look at Gay’s stand against publisher Simon & Schuster’s six-figure book deal with Milo Yiannopoulos.

Bibliomania: The Strange History of Compulsive Book Buying – I can’t help but relate, and I’m sure many of you are right there with me.

Friday Links: Reading and Writing at the End of an Era

It’s an extremely rainy Friday here in my neck of the woods, and we’re looking at more rain right through Monday. I claim gratitude, because even though we’ve made some good headway on canceling out the five-year drought California’s been suffering from, we do still need more rain. However, I will admit to being a little sick of it. My brain feels water-logged. It’s a good thing I mostly intend to stay home and read this weekend.

As for links, I’ve got a little homage to our now-former president, and his obvious love of reading, along with some other good stuff to keep you inspired through the weekend, whatever your weather patterns. I hope you set aside your writing time, and reading time as well, however much or little you can spare, and continue to put your goals high on your priority list. If you happen to be marching somewhere this weekend, good luck and stay safe. Happy weekend, and happy writing.

Considering the Novel in the Age of Obama – An interesting examination of literary trends over the past eight years.

Obama’s Secret to Surviving the White House Years: Books – The result of an interview with President Obama regarding his terms in office, including an internal link to some of his book recommendations.

Finalists for the National Book Award – A nice round up of this year’s titles.

Women Are Writing the Best Crime Novels – A look at the recent bestsellers in the genre, and their authors.

What Being an Editor Taught Me About Writing – Insider tips from an editor at Random House.

The 59-Book Fandom Reading Challenge – Are you a fan of something? Here’s a challenge that suggests a type of book for virtually every type of fan out there. Fun, and a little different.

Publishers Don’t Want Good Books – A tough-love look at why you may be getting rejection letters.

24in48 Readathon – Read for 24 hours total out of 48. This twice yearly challenge runs this weekend, and there’s still time to sign up. Check out other 24in48 blog posts for lists of prizes, reading suggestions, and more.

Friday Links: Send Your Writing into the World

Happy Friday, everyone! Juggling about twenty different things today, trying to get them handled before the weekend, so I’m just going to do a hit and run with this week’s Friday Links. I think it’s a pretty inspirational cross section, and I hope that at least one or two make you feel like getting down with your current work in progress, or maybe submitting something for publication. A number of these are geared toward getting that work out the door. Wishing you lots of excellent writing and reading time. Enjoy!

Short Story Challenge – A fun challenge  in three rounds run by NYC Midnight. The first round is coming up fast, so check it out now.

African Game of Thrones? Marlon James Is On It – An interview with the author about his upcoming fantasy series.

12 Contemporary Writers on How They Revise – Tips from a broad range of working writers.

Opportunities for Writers: January and February 2017 – A list of deadlines for submissions, contests, etc.

The British Books Challenge 2017 – A fun, low-volume book challenge for anyone looking to change things up a (little) bit.

Remembering Octavia Butler – An interview with Juno Diaz about the revered sf writer who passed away last year.

Friday Links: Out with the Old, In with the New

It’s the last Friday of 2016, so I’ve a selection of forward-looking links for you to help you get started on those new year’s goals. You have been thinking about your goals for 2017, right? If not, check out my tips from Wednesday’s post to help you get started.

I think we call all agree this was an extremely eventful, and in some ways traumatic, year. This past week’s celebrity deaths hit particularly hard; I feel like my childhood is being stripped from me in enormous chunks. But I still plan to kick off 2017 with as much enthusiasm and determination as I can muster. Only we can create a world that helps cushion us from the inevitable heartbreaks of life — one where people can reach for their dreams and live in health, safety, and a measure of achievement. It may feel far off sometimes, but that’s no excuse not to keep pushing in the right direction.

On that note, I offer you some inspiration for the coming year. Best of luck with whatever you strive to accomplish. Happy writing!

Writer’s Digest Shop Sale – There are some great markdowns at the moment on books and webinars to help you with all your writing goals.

Submission Strategies: Advice from a Literary Magazine Editor – Some tips to get your work past those gatekeepers.

67 Best SEO Tips for Bloggers – Strategies for getting more traffic to your blog and website.

The State of Flash Fiction – A look at this very short form of storytelling and how it’s role is developing in the marketplace.

10 Overlooked Books by Women in 2016 – Catch these before the new crop of titles makes your TBR pile fall over.

Anticipated Books of 2017 – Bookriot.com shares the titles they’re looking forward to next year on the All the Books podcast.

Creative Live – Online courses across a wide range of creative fields, including inspiration for writing, marketing and PR, social media, web design, branding, freelancing, and much more. They also have some great sales going on at the moment.

 

Friday Links: Gearing Up for Next Year’s Writing

Happy Friday, everyone! We’re preparing to head off for the holiday break here at The Knight Agency, so it’s been a particularly busy week. That said, I plan to post through the holidays, if only to keep encouraging everyone who is participating in this year’s December Writing Challenge, so do check in if you have some down time and are looking for some inspiration.

We’re getting into the difficult part of the month, where events and to-do lists collide and it feels even more impossible to carve out a few minutes to write, but you can do it. Take a notebook with you on your coffee or hot chocolate break; put in a little writing time before you start your day; pause before you head to bed at night and make sure you scribble a few paragraphs if the day has gotten away from you. You’ll feel so accomplished, and also continue to build those great writing habits to help you start 2017 on the right foot.

I’m sending you off this weekend with a nice assortment of links, some of which will hopefully give you something to aspire to or plan for in the new year. Enjoy, and happy writing!

One Word Leads to the Next: Unconventional Conjunctive Devices – Some thoughts on pushing boundaries and experimenting with language.

What a Novel Looks Like Before It’s a Novel – Six novelists on their early writing process.

A Guide to Short Story Contests in 2017 – Start planning now and mark your calendar with anything you’d like to enter.

25 Days of Christmas Romances – This list will get you into the mood in more ways than one.

How to Create Art and Make Cool Stuff in a Time of Trouble – Chuck Wendig dishes out some advice for anyone struggling to focus on their writing in the wake of all the really terrible news flooding the air waves, internet, etc.

10 Things You Didn’t Know about How the NY Times Book Review Works – A peek inside the workings of this industry mainstay.

Friday Links from North of the Border

Greetings from beautiful Surrey, British Columbia, Canada! I’m in conference mode, hence the somewhat late post today. I intended to schedule something last night but it just never happened, so I’m sneaking in between pitches and dinner to leave you a few goodies for your weekend entertainment. I hope you find them interesting and inspiring. Happy writing!

12 Awesome Things You Probably Didn’t Know about the British Library – For curiosity’s sake or for adventure/travel plans.

Excellent Nonfiction about Girls for Tween and Teen Readers – Great list, whether you’re shopping for the teen reader in your life or for a bit of industry research.

Interview with a Gatekeeper: Algonquin’s Elisabeth Scharlatt – One editor/publisher opens up about the industry.

Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon – Read all day on October 22nd! Sorry for the late announcement but there’s still time to join in if you want.

17 Short Story Competitions to Enter Before the End of the Year – Pretty much what it says.

What the Deuce: The Curse Words of Charles Dickens – A look at how the author got around the censorship of his time.