Friday Links: Reading and Writing with a Broader World View

Happy Friday, everyone! This week I’m stepping back and taking a look at the larger scope of the world when it comes to writing and reading. How do recent events affect how we view the world, how we write our stories, how we consider our readers, and how we choose what to read ourselves? We can look back and see clearly how the prevalence of fantasy and darker paranormal seemed to grow up around harder economic times, and that the rise of dystopian literature appears to have been a precursor of the current political climate. So what happens now?

I’m not claiming to be drawing any conclusions with this week’s links, but many do play into this theme and I think it’s something to consider going forward. It’s early days yet, but I’m sure the writings of our time will reflect much of this current turmoil eventually, as well as whatever follows. Food for thought going into the weekend. I wish you lots of excellent time to read and to write, and  hopefully a bit of inspiration. Enjoy!

Fantasy Is about Power: An Interview with Lev Grossman – A talk with the author of The Magicians trilogy, about the books, and about the TV series based on them that just began its second season.

Translation — and Migration — Is the Lifeblood of Culture – A look at how the mix of ideas and cultures from different nations serves to influence and develop imagination everywhere.

On Dracula’s Lost Islandic Sister Text – On this mysterious, altered version of Stoker’s classic work.

“It’s Going to Be Darker. And that’s OK.” Neil Gaiman on Trump, Brexit, and the Death of Social Media – Gaiman discusses the new series based on American Gods and considers what it means to create art in troubled times.

50 Must-Visit Beautiful Bookstores on Six Continents – See the world, buy some books.

Waterstone’s, the UK’s National Bookstore, Came Back from Near-Death by Transforming into Indie, Local Stores – How the new mastermind behind the chain turned the tide, proving it’s still possible to get readers into bookstores.

What’s the Next Big Dystopian Novel? Margaret Atwood Has some Ideas – The author of The Handmaid’s Tale, which has gained new popularity between current politics and the series soon to debut on Hulu, talks dystopian literature and book trends.

How to Escape the Slush Pile: A Self-Editing Checklist for Short Story Writers – Excellent tips, some of which apply to any writing.

Friday Links: Reading and Writing for the Long Winter Haul

Happy Friday, all! Apparently the groundhog saw his shadow yesterday, so we’re looking at six more weeks of winter weather in the northern hemisphere. In homage to that fact, I’ve got a ton of book recommendation links for you all this week, so whatever it looks like outside your window, you have some good reading material to keep you company. I’ll admit I’m doing a lot of reading myself these days, both for work and for pleasure, because I am in need of a good distraction from the insanity of real life, and books have always been that for me.

Of course, I also have some writing opportunities lined up in the links, so do take a look and maybe find yourself a deadline or a new publication to add to your writing goals. It’s always good to stretch your skills; you never know when you might come up with your next brilliant idea. Wishing you all a wonderful, creative weekend. Happy writing!

9 Books by Black Authors You Need on your Black History Month Reading List – Some really great titles, old and newer, to add to your TBR if you haven’t gotten around to them yet.

25 Great Books by Refugees in America – Another timely list of wonderful titles, across a wide range of subjects and genres.

Opportunities for Writers: February and March 2017 – A list of upcoming deadlines for contests, fellowships, publications and so on.

Join the Book Riot February #Riotgrams Instagram Challenge – A fun boookish photo challenge for anyone on Instagram. It kicked off on Feb. 1st, but there’s plenty of time to play catch up as the rules are extremely flexible.

Eimear McBride Is Not Afraid of Cruelty – The author talks about her new book, her thoughts on long descriptions, and her approach to writing.

100 Must-Read Science Fiction and Fantasy Debuts – A huge collection of debut sff books both recent and classic. Fabulous reference for anyone looking to get a great overview of the genre.

17 Books to Read This February – Some great-sounding new releases due out this month that will help the short days and still-long nights fly by.

Friday Links: Sending Your Inner Writer Back to School

Happy Friday, everyone! I’ve got a ton of reading recs for you this week in Friday Links, from lists of great books that have released this year to date to suggested reading for writers and a bunch in between. All great grist for the mill. And why is that important? Because September is just a stone’s throw away, and with it comes the downhill race toward the end of the year. We all know how fast those last four months fly, with kids back in school and holidays starting to loom, so now is the time to get your inspiration on and put your writer’s brain in gear. Read things that make you anxious to write, dive into that research you’ve been contemplating, stick some deadlines on your calendar. Get ready to do great things!

So without further ado, I offer up this week’s links. Enjoy, and happy writing!

The 25 Best Books of 2016 (So Far) – Pretty much what it says on the label. Some terrific titles on this list.

Hanya Yanagihara: ‘Don’t We Read Fiction Exactly to Be Upset?’ – The writer talks about what it means to be brave as a writer.

Top 10 Books Writers Should Read – Not your typical list, this offers up some fresh ideas for getting that writer’s brain tuned up and ready to roar.

President Obama’s 2016 Summer Reading List – In case you missed it, here’s what President Obama chose to read on his annual summer vacation.

Opportunities for Writers: September and October 2016 – A list of places to submit your work with deadlines in the next two months.

The Dangerous Myth of Authenticity – A look at the tightrope a writer walks when dealing in details that may stretch the reader’s ability to believe in the story.

Webinar Reminder: Conquer the Dreaded Synopsis

This is just a quick reminder for those of you interested in attending my Writer’s Digest webinar: Conquer the Dreaded Synopsis. The course takes place online tomorrow, August 2nd, at 1pm ET. You can sign up right until the class begins and still be eligible for the critique synopsis that’s available to anyone who registers ahead. Full details on the course and information about sign up can be found here. Hope to have some of you in class tomorrow!

Conquering that Dreaded Synopsis

If there is a constant in this career, it’s the sound of authors complaining over the need to write a synopsis of their work. Sadly, this task will remain with you if you continue to write for publication, as there is always another novel to pitch/sell and a strong synopsis is part of your sales kit. So I’m delighted to say I’ll once again be teaching my Writer’s Digest webinar on how to write a synopsis, on Tuesday, August 2nd, 20016, at 1pm ET.

Conquer the Dreaded Synopsis aims to help you break down this often-daunting project and get the job done. Over the course of the 90-minute live webinar, you’ll learn what your synopsis should include, how to coax those details out of your much-longer manuscript, and how to polish them up so you can show off your writing skills even while selling your story. The webinar includes time for Q&A, and after it is over, you’ll have time to apply what you’ve learned, writing or revising a synopsis that you can then send me for critique. Complete details are available at the Writer’s Digest site.

I realize not everyone can make a live webinar in the middle of the day, but keep in mind that attendees receive access to all the materials — audio and visual — for a year after the class date, and only those who register ahead will be able to submit their synopsis for comments. So if you’re struggling with your synopsis and would like some feedback, consider taking the class, even if you won’t be able to join in for the live broadcast. Either way, I hope to see some of you in class!

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: 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.

 

Conquer the Dreaded Synopsis: Webinar for Writers

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Long-time readers of this blog know I occasionally teach a course on synopsis writing through the Writer’s Digest webinar series. The course focuses on how to organize your thoughts in order to distill a full-length manuscript or the plot of a work-in-progress into a brief synopsis — either very short, to be used in query letters, or several pages that can be sent to agents or editors who request it or used to sell a project on partial. The live online format means attendees sign into the course and go through it in real time, but they also receive a file of the completed webinar later by email, including both audio and the slide presentation, to review at their leisure. Anyone who registers to take the live course may also submit a single completed synopsis for critique after applying what they learned in class.

Interested in whipping your synopsis into shape? Feel overwhelmed by the task, with no idea where to start? Join me for Conquer the Dreaded Synopsis: Construct Your Ultimate Sales Tool on Thursday, March 17, 2016, at 1pm ET. Please keep in mind that, even if you can’t attend live, you will receive the complete course and audio by email, and only those who register ahead will be eligible for the critique.

Check out the course description for complete details, including information on system requirements, etc. I hope to see you in class!

Friday Links: Inspiration and Creative Risk-Taking

Happy Friday, everyone! I hope you’ve had a terrific week and that your weekend looks equally bright. Spring has truly sprung here in SoCal, and I have the twitchy nose to prove it. Suddenly everything is in bloom. But that’s fine with me, because I always think spring is a highly creative time. Something about all those new things growing and in bloom, plans formulating for summer vacation, stretching muscles that are stiff from curling up in a cozy spot all winter. It’s a great time to brush off your old, neglected ambitions and get moving. So if you’ve found yourself dragging when it comes to getting your writing done, I want you to shake off those cobwebs, flex your fingers, and get to work. Try something new, aim high, and tell that internal voice-of-doom to take a hike.

To inspire some creativity and perhaps a bit of risk-taking, I’ve got a bunch of fun links for you this week. Even if there’s still snow on the ground outside your window, or you’re in the other hemisphere facing down the start of autumn, take a few minutes over the weekend to dive into a different project or take a fresh look at an old one. You never know what kind of inspiration might take hold. Happy writing!

This Is How to Be Creatively Productive – Thoughts from writer and artist Danny Gregory.

Polygon Map Generation Demo – World-building a completely new land for your fantasy novel or story? Use this site to generate an all-new continent to go with your setting.

Readers are willing to follow writers into risky territory: Alexander Chee on Writing and The Queen of the Night – Some terrific observations about how and when it can pay off to write something truly different.

Wit and the Art of Conversation – Thoughts on what wit is, precisely, and observations on what makes it appealing. Great for writers working on improving their dialogue.

6 Ways to Track Down a Magazine Editor – Advice for anyone in the freelance trenches or looking to get into freelance writing. If you’ve been thinking about it and putting it off, what are you waiting for? Go for it.

Second Cousins,” “Once Removed,” and More, Explained in Chart Form – Handy relative definitions, very useful for anyone sorting out a big family drama, on paper or in real life.

A Lifelong Lover of Books Breaks Ground Atop the Literary World – Q&A with Lisa Lucas, who recently became the first woman and first African American to head up the National Book Foundation. Proof that there’s always new ground to break.

Friday Links: Small Ways to Level Up Your Writing

It seems impossible to start off today without mention of the sad passing of Harper Lee. Last year was her year, no matter how you look at it, with the release of Go Set a Watchman and the controversy that accompanied it, and the number of people reading To Kill a Mockingbird either for the first time or as a refresher. She had an interesting life and career, and left us with her art to remember her by.

However this week’s links are not about Harper Lee’s writing, but about yours. How goes it? Need a little push? Some easy references to help you over the tough spots? A touch of inspiration? Something to aim for? Today’s Friday Links should help you along. There are few fun things thrown in to mix it up, but for the most part this week’s links are aimed at giving you a little boost on your writing journey. Enjoy, and happy writing!

The Grammar Rules Behind 3 Commonly Disparaged Dialects – Did you know even dialects have grammar systems? A handy bit of info if you’re writing regional characters.

The Punctuation Guide – An online reference for all those pesky punctuation marks, plus some useful tips.

How I Changed My Submissions after Editing a Major Lit Mag – Suggestions of things to look out for from someone in the know.

Writing with the Mentors: Why Voice Is like a Piece of Very, Very Good Cake – A few basic pointers on how voice can make your writing stand out.

Famous Literary Locales, Visualized – Images from the NY Public Library collection to fit with various well-known books. Nice inspiration if you want to get some visuals for your own WIP.

Opportunities for Writers: March and April 2016 – Upcoming deadlines for writing contests, calls for work, etc.

One Man, One Obsession, 100 Typewriters – Collect something writing related? Love old typewriters? Check this out, especially the photos of these beautiful old machines.