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: Creative Outlets for Difficult Days

It’s been a tense week filled with terrible news, here in the U.S. The sort that makes you want to hold your loved ones a little closer and try to be a little kinder to everyone you meet, even as you wonder how there can be so much pointless hatred out there. I hope this week’s links provide a little distraction and maybe some inspiration. Creating something meaningful isn’t the worst way to try to combat the ugliness in the world. Of course, sometimes the world drains you of every creative impulse, in which case escaping into a good book can offer a brief respite, if that’s what you seek.

Wishing you all a safe, sane, enjoyable weekend.

On the Genius of Yuri Herrera’s Character Names – One translator looks at the meaning behind an author’s choices.

12 Bookstores Every Reader Should Visit in Their Lifetime – Some gorgeous photos to inspire your next book-related travel plans.

Why Setting a Historical Romance Outside of England Is Risky Business – The strange reality of sales figures in this particular sub-genre.

Modern Witches Are So Much More Than Just Mothers/Maidens/Crones – A look at more recent roles for this standard archetypal character.

The Great Second-Half 2016 Book Preview – A rundown of a huge number of highly anticipated titles due to release during the second half of the year. By no means exhaustive, but it has something to tempt just about everyone.

Life Behind the Stacks: The Secret Apartments of New York Libraries – A peek into the world of the former library caretakers of NYC.

10 Mistakes (Almost) Every Rookie Writer Makes: Part 2 – A continuation from the previous list, with some great tips to keep in mind.

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.

 

Friday Links: The Language of Writers

Welcome to April! I must say, April 1st — April Fool’s Day — is one of my least favorite days of the year, because when it comes to pranks, I rarely see them coming, and so I tend to walk through this day with my shoulders hunched around my ears in anticipation of something annoying happening. Today, however, I’ll be wandering the Los Angeles Convention Center with thousands of writers, editors, agents, and other publishing types, and so I’m hoping that everyone will be too preoccupied with the bookish goodness going on to worry about fooling anyone.

So without further ado, I bring you this week’s Friday Links, no jokes or pranks included. May they inspire you on your way to writing greatness. Have a terrific weekend, and happy writing!

From Idea to Novel – Some award-winning novelists share how they deal with the blank page.

First Draft with Sarah Enni: Victoria Schwab – A wonderful podcast interview with the author of A Darker Shade of Magic, Vicious, and much more.

34 Compelling First Lines of Famous Books – Fun graphics highlighting some terrific book openers.

What Literary Discourse Offers in an Age of Extremism – Thoughtful look at why we should talk about writing and books when the world is going to hell in a hand basket.

On the 13 Words that Made Me a Writer – Fantasy author Sofia Samatar talks about making the turn from reader to writer.

The Forgotten Secret Language of Gay Men – In the mid-twentieth century, when homosexuality was still illegal in Britain, gay men apparently spoke a secret language to communicate in safety. Interesting on both linguistic and cultural levels.

Ta-Nehisi Coates on Creative Breakthroughs:

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: An Assortment of Building Blocks for Writers

TGIF! I hope you’ve all had a terrific week, and have some equally terrific plans lined up for your weekend. It’s the final weekend in February, so it might be a good time to take a quick peek at your goals for the last month and for the year and see how you’re doing so far. Are you on target? Are there some areas where you might do a little better? Set aside an hour or so to check in with yourself so that you can steer the ship back in the right direction if need be, or by all means treat yourself to a mini celebration if you’re ahead of you’re ahead of the game. But regardless of where you are, it’s important to do these small reviews periodically throughout the year so you won’t be facing big surprises come December.

But of course it wouldn’t be Friday without Friday Links. I have a great assortment for you this week and I hope you’re inspired to do some new writing or work on your current project as a result. Enjoy, and happy writing!

Comma Queen: “Awesome” Is the New “Massive” – A quick, fun video from The New Yorker‘s grammar guru.

An Unparalleled Influence: The Man Who Invented Fiction – The role of Cervantes and Don Quixote in bringing about the modern novel.

Simon & Schuster Creates Imprint for Muslim-Themed Children’s Books – This week’s announcement of Salaam Reads, a new imprint to be headed up by Executive Editor Zareen Jaffery.

Ancient History Resources – A collection of links to some wonderful research material.

The Architecture of Fantasy: How Authors Use Real Places to Build Imaginary Ones – Some helpful tips for world building.

Notes on Record-Keeping – A look at journaling as a means of keeping track of all the bits and pieces of your life and memories.

Why I Became a Travel Writer – On delving into a career that calls to you, despite the risks.

Friday Links: People and Places Behind the Books We Love

TGIF! It’s been a long, kind of sad week, what with the passing of first David Bowie and then Alan Rickman. The first made me teary; the latter made me cry into my coffee on and off all day. Both were hugely creative individuals who left us with so much to remember them by, but that doesn’t mean they haven’t left a hollow space now they’ve gone, as well.

But as I said, it’s Friday, and time to look forward to the weekend. It’s a long one here in the U.S., as Monday is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which means I can both get work done and also participate in the 24 in 48 Readathon. (There’s still time to sign up if you want to join in!) But before the weekend can kick off, I’ve got this week’s Friday Links to share. Enjoy, and happy writing!

Robert Kilpatrick on The Feminine Future: Early Science Fiction by Women Writers – A thoughtful look and review over at the LA Review of Books.

New Map Explores the Streets of Fictional London – Fun map incorporating locations from over 600 books, plays, etc.

Association of American Publishers Partners with United Negro College Fund to Enhance Diversity Recruiting Efforts in Publishing – A new plan to help diversify the publishing world from behind the scenes.

28 Authors on the Books that Changed Their Lives – Pretty much as written.

Alan Rickman’s Best Bookish Roles – I will forever love Colonel Brandon best.

The Time My Grown-Up Novel Was Marketed as Young Adult – A look at shifts in literary genres.

Not Just in Cafés: An L–Z of Places to Write – For those of you who like to write in public and with a little background noise.

Friday Links: Messing with Shakespeare and Other Rewrites

TGIF! I hope you’ve all had a terrific week, and that you have some excellent weekend plans lined up. I’ll be a the Writer’s Conference of Los Angeles tomorrow, and then Sunday I’ve got some more work ahead of me, but I’m also looking forward to a few hours with my TBR pile.

But first, I have links for you! I’ve been thinking quite a bit lately about what makes a story. How much can you change or subtract from a work without making it into something new? If I were to give a thousand writers the same prompt, they’d come up with a thousand different stories. We go to the movies and see adaptations of novels all the time. There’s a recent resurgence of transforming fairy tales into modern novels and movies, giving the old stories a twist or simply updating them for a current (or future) setting. I’ve read a few articles about translating works, and the importance of adhering to not just the writer’s original story but the mood and feel of the language if possible, so the reader-in-translation has as much of the intended experience as can be managed.

All this of course is a lead in to the recent declaration by the Oregon Shakespeare Festival that they’ll be getting 36 playwrights to rework the plays of Shakespeare into more modern, understandable language, an announcement that resulted in quite a backlash in both traditional and social media. What makes those plays Shakespeare’s work? Is it the story or the language? After all, many of those tales were reworked from old myths and history and other source material.

This week also saw the tenth anniversary of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight, and the release of a new gender-switched version of the book. Many fans are excited about this, but I can’t really say I am all that worked up over the chance to read about Edward and Bella as Edythe and Beau. Does it really make it a fresh story? Someone else will have to decide.

But enough rattling on. I hope I’ve given you a few things to ponder. In the meantime, enjoy the links below, and have a wonderful, productive weekend. Happy writing!

Why We (Mostly) Stopped Messing with Shakespeare’s Language – A review of the history of rewriting the Bard, and why it’s not necessary.

Twilight Surprise – Announcing Stephenie Meyer’s gender-swapped rewrite.

A New Chapter in the World’s Oldest Story – Researchers discovered twenty additional lines to The Epic of Gilgamesh, a small piece of good news in the turmoil taking place in Iraq and Syria.

Before You Launch Your Author Website: How to Avoid Long-Term Mistakes – A few excellent tips.

Fantasy Calendar Generator – Creating a fantasy world for your novel? Use this fabulous calendar to help keep your world-building consistent.

The Writer I Was: Six Authors Look Back on their First Novels The Millions interviews six now-established authors on what it was like for them starting out.

The Uses of Orphans – Why orphans make such wonderful protagonists, and a look at a few of the more popular orphans in literature.

Friday Links

Happy Friday to all! What’s on your horizon this weekend? Mine’s filled with words… I’m deep into a serious submissions-pile catch up, as the number of things rattling around in that particular inbox has been making me twitch for a while now. I tend to read queries and partials during the week when I can work them in around other tasks, but full-length manuscripts are on deck for the weekend. I don’t expect anyone will be seeing much of me.

But before I disappear into a dozen different worlds, I bring you this week’s assortment of links. I hope you find them interesting, educational, and entertaining, and that you might find a little inspiration for your own weekend activities. Enjoy!

The Charge to Be Fair: Ta-Nehisi Coates and Roxane Gay in Conversation – An important talk about Coates’s new book, race in writing, and race relations today.

7 Books to Give You a Taste of Edinburgh (If You Can’t Be There to Soak Up the Culture Yourself) – The annual Edinburgh International Book Festival began last weekend, so this might give yo a little taste.

13 Tips for Actually Getting Some Writing Accomplished – Advice from Gretchen Rubin.

11 History Books You Should Read Before Writing Your Military SF – Nice round up, even if you’re not writing in the sub-genre, plus some more suggestions in comments.

Beyond Bond – The New York Public Library offers up a list of spy novels for lovers of Ian Fleming’s famous character.

How “The Girl on the Train” Became a Runaway Success – A look at the role of Goodreads in the marketing of a successful title.

Friday Links

Happy Friday, everyone! This week flew by. In fact, summer seems to be flying by. A friend cornered me the other evening to let me know about her Labor Day bbq, and all I could think was “September? Already? No!” It’s the same every year, yet it always manages to catch me unawares.

But we have a few more weeks of summer to enjoy, and I hope you intend to get some good reading and writing time in along with your other activities. And of course, if you’re in the southern part of the world, I hope you’re anticipating spring’s arrival by staying inside, keeping warm, and cranking out pages on your WIP before sunny days lure you outside. To mix in with all these activities, I offer this week’s links to check out. Enjoy, and have a fabulous weekend!

World Building 101 – N.K. Jemisin recently taught an online class in world building, and here she offers a downloadable PDF of the steps she takes when creating worlds. Not as complete as taking the course, obviously, but still a great resource.

How Romance Novelists Got Such a Silly, Sappy Rap – In the wake of this year’s national RWA convention, an interesting look at romance writers as business people.

Can’t Get Into It – Artist and writer Danny Gregory talks about attention span and reading — briefly.

How to Access a Million Stunning, Copyright-free Antique Illustrations Released by the British Library – A fabulous resource for bloggers, etc.

World’s Coolest Bookstores – Some amazing photos. You’re going to want to add a few of these to your travel list.