Friday Links: Reading and Writing to Pack Your Weekend

Happy Friday, all! I’m currently winging my way to Seattle for the Emerald City Writers’ Conference this weekend, but I’ve got some links for you to keep you busy in my absence. And if you’re going to be at the conference, please say hello! I always love putting faces to names. Have a wonderful weekend whatever you have planned, and don’t forget to schedule some writing time. The end of the year is coming up fast, so tackle those goals while you can. Enjoy!

Literistic – A monthly mailing list of contests, deadlines, and places to submit your work. There’s an extensive version for a small fee, and shorter version for free.

20 Reasons Why You Should Read Literary Magazines – Pretty much what it sounds like, but the list name checks some terrific publications, so if you’re looking to expand your horizons it could be a good source.

Bookselling in the 21st Century: On the Difficulty of Recommending Books – More tales from the booksellers’ trenches.

We Need to Talk About Money: Practicality’s Place in a Writing Education – An interesting look at just where writers should acquire their business acumen.

Celebrated Writers on the Creative Benefits of Keeping a Diary – For anyone who might be wondering or just plain curious.

131 YA books for Your October to December Radar – A wrap up of the YA titles being released through year’s end.

Who Nominates Writers for the Nobel Prize? – For anyone wondering how Bob Dylan ended up this year’s prize winner in literature.

Friday Links: The Fly-By Edition

Happy Friday, everyone! This is my last weekend in town for a while, as I’ve got back-to-back conferences coming up, so I’m going to keep this short but sweet. As you might imagine, I’ve a very long to-do list about now. So without further ado, I offer up this week’s links. Enjoy, and don’t forget to put aside some writing time!

26 Maps Reveal a New York City Hiding in Plain Sight – Writing about New York? Pondering the different sides of a city — any city? These might give you some ideas.

Bullet Journaling for Fiction Writers – Ideas for organizing your thoughts, research, writing schedule, and more.

What Makes a Children’s Book Good? – A discussion of pretty much what the title states.

Alexandra Kleeman & Lincoln Michel: On Genre, Influence, and Getting Weird in Fiction – Two writers known for their short fiction discuss the format and their own perspectives on writing.

Why Melissa de la Cruz’s Immigration Story Matters Now – A look at the author’s new book and her experiences as an immigrant to the U.S.

Study Storied Women with Iowa’s International Writing Program – Details on a new, free online writing course offered by the University of Iowa.

The Literature of Creepy Clowns – Fitting, given the approach of Halloween and also the strange clown threats popping up across the country.

Friday Links, Absent a Clever Subtitle, Because My Writer’s Brain Is on Strike

In case it hasn’t been obvious from the unusual level of quiet around here, I’ve been having a bit of a nose-to-grindstone month. My apologies for the shortage of posts but there’s only so much brain power to go around and it’s being funneled into a few other things right now. I hope October will give me time to be a bit chattier.

However it is Friday, which means Friday Links, and I definitely have some of those to share. I think there’s a decidedly autumnal flavor this week, unsurprising given tomorrow is the first day of October. Think of it as the literary equivalent of pumpkins everywhere. Or maybe it’s just that ongoing back-to-school vibe. I’m still feeling the need to go buy new notebooks and pens. Maybe over the weekend.

So without further ado I’m going to get right to the links. Fair number of titles to plump up that TBR, among other things. Enjoy, and don’t forget to work a little writing time into your schedule. Happy weekend!

The Haunting of Shirley Jackson – On ghosts and literary traps.

Amor Towles, A Gentleman in Gramercy Park – A brief profile with some gorgeous photos of the author’s NYC apartment. His office will give you bookcase envy. Also, his debut novel, Rules of Civility, which came out a few years back, is one of the most beautifully written books I’ve read in years. I’m twitching to find time to read his latest.

Shakespeare Lives 2016 – The Globe in London streamed a live performance of their recent production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream a few weeks ago, and you can still view the video on the site.

Win a Writer’s Retreat in Iceland – Details on how to enter to win a free spot at the Iceland Writers Retreat.

The Time I Wrote a 150,000-Word Pulp Novel in a Month to Win a Bet – A fun tale with some interesting details about the pulp genre. Perhaps inspiration for anyone gearing up for NaNoWriMo in November.

Tana French’s Intimate Crime Fiction – A profile that looks at what French has brought to the genre with her popular Dublin Murder Squad series.

Hollywood’s 25 Most Powerful Authors 2016 – Mostly who you’d expect, though there are a few nice surprises. Still, an uncomfortably white selection of writers, though a fair number of women have managed to make the list.


Friday Links: Resources for Writers Getting Down to Basics

Happy Friday, everyone! This week has simply flown by and I have a huge pile of things to get done today, particularly since my new iPhone is supposedly on the truck for delivery, which means I’m having a technology update sort of weekend. Not only does the phone need to be set up, but my new computer is sitting in a box on the floor staring at me, waiting patiently for me to take a day to sort through four years of file accumulation (and email!) and migrate what I want to keep to the new machine. So that’s my exciting weekend plan. Come Monday I will be thoroughly modern and up-to-date. At least until Apple releases the new OS.

I’ll admit the good thing about this plan, other than a phone battery that will hold a charge more than half a day and a computer that moves with a bit more pep, is that file migration takes time. Time during which I can lie on the couch and read. I have a stack of books I’m twitching to get to, so I’m hoping to tackle one or two this weekend as well. I never quite outgrew that feeling of September signaling that it’s time to head back to school, which means my brain really wants to crawl into study mode for the next few months. This is probably about as close as I can get.

Of course, I have Friday Links for all of you, so whatever plans you’ve got brewing this weekend, take a few minutes to check these out. There are some writing tips, places to submit your work, and of course a few reading recommendations because at the end of the day, it’s all about the great books. In particular, there are some terrific links for anyone just starting out or who is looking to get back to the basics with their writing. I hope you find some inspiration here. Wishing you a wonderful weekend, and happy writing!

Katie Khan on Choosing the Perfect Name for a Novel – On that pesky chore of deciding on a title for your book.

The Millions Quiz: The Best Political Fiction – Some great book recommendations for anyone who can’t get enough of the political scene, or maybe for anyone wanting to hide from the current U.S. campaign chaos.

The 7 Biggest Mistakes Personal Essay Writers Make – Great tips for anyone looking to master (or publish) this format.

Opportunities for Writers: October and November 2016 – A great list of contests, calls for work, and other places where you can submit your writing, with deadlines over the next couple of months.

How to Be a Writer: 10 Tips from Rebecca Solnit – Solnit offers excellent advice on various aspects of the writing career and process.

10 Books on the American Immigrant Experience – A wonderfully diverse list of titles featuring the experiences of immigrants in America.

Start Writing Fiction: A Free Online Course Starts 3 October – An online course on writing fiction, offered for free by Open University, kicks off October 3rd.

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.

Friday Links: Inspiration to Get Your Writer Brain in Gear

Another Friday has arrived, and with it that sense that it’s time to get busy. The holidays are already in sight — if you judge by retailers, Halloween is moments away — and with them come all sorts of new distractions and obligations. So now is the time to set yourself in writing mode — whatever that means for your current project. Need to do some plotting? Have a list of research questions to tackle? Ready to pull something out of the drawer and get down to a serious edit? Or maybe you’ve been procrastinating getting those first sentences down on an empty first page. Whatever your goal, wherever you stand, it’s time to leap. Think how accomplished you will feel once you’ve made that next bit of progress.

This week’s links are rather a hodgepodge of different sorts of inspiration. Things to read, authors to admire, new ground to cover, and hints to help polish your work. In many ways, it’s my favorite sort of week because diverse links make for more connections with all of you, and also provide plenty of ways for you to stretch your writer brains. So take a look and see what strikes your fancy. Enjoy, and happy writing!

Planes Flying Over a Monster: The Writing Life in Mexico City – An armchair tour of the writing community in Mexico City.

6 Books that Get What It’s Like to Work Online – With more and more people working from home and using the internet as place of employment, these titles are relatable on many levels. Plus they’re just good reads.

Against Accessibility: On Robert Irwin, Chinua Achebe, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and Imbolo Mbue’s “Behold the Dreamers” – A commentary on the somewhat narrow selection of modern African fiction available to Western readers.

How non-English speakers are taught this crazy English grammar rule you know but have never heard of – Fascinating look at this more intuitive aspect of English grammar structure.

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Final Unpublished Collection Set for Spring 2017 Release – Yet another “lost” work by a revered writer.

Lisa Lucas Wants to Make Reading Fun Again – An interview with the new(ish) director of the National Book Foundation, in which she discusses her goals and her attitude toward reading.

100 African Writers of SFF: Part One, Nairobi – Not just a list of authors and/or books, but information about the country and profiles that include background, influences, etc.

The Writer’s Toolkit: 6 Steps to a Successful Writing Habit with Simon Van Booy – Information about the author’s new self-paced writing course available on, for anyone who wants a little kick in the pants.

Friday Links: Writing Inspiration for a Long Weekend

This week I’m wondering not just how it got to be Friday, but how it got to be September. I swear, the earth is spinning just a little bit faster every year. If you haven’t already, you might want to take an hour or so to check in on your writing goals for 2016, and reassess your plan going forward. We’re officially two-thirds of the way through this year and I think it’s pretty clear that time waits for no one.

Here in the U.S., we’re heading into the long Labor Day weekend, which means final BBQs of the season, mad dashes to the beach, and just general enjoyment of the last unofficial gasps of summer. Whether you’re relaxing over the holiday or simply heading into a normal couple of days off, I hope you find some of the following links fun and inspirational. If you’re too busy playing beach volleyball to spend any time on the internet, well, they’ll be waiting for you a few days from now as well. Of course, if you plan to get in some writing time, they might come in handy. Enjoy!

A Writer’s Guide to Hacking the Reader’s Brain (in 5 Steps) – Thoughts on what makes a story really work for your reader.

The Lost Art of Custom Illustrating Your Favorite Books – Intriguing peek at a time when illustrated books were costly, so readers came up with less-pricy solutions.

How the Brontës Came Out as Women – All three sisters started out with masculine pen names; a look at when that changed.

An Illustrated Guide to Writing Scenes and Stories – Handy tips from writer Jeff VanderMeer, with some fun accompanying illustrations.

Langston Hughes’ Harlem Home May Get Its Own Renaissance — As an Art Center – Details pertaining to the recent effort to preserve the poet’s historic Harlem-area home.

6 Podcast Episodes that Will Make You a Better Writer – A nice assortment of podcasts that specifically address ways to improve your writing or provide excellent examples of a technique done well.

The Great Booksellers Fall 2016 Preview – A list of some of the most anticipated titles coming out over the next few months, touted by the people who know. I’m personally chomping at the bit for Amor Towles’ A Gentleman in Moscow.

Writing Goals: The Slide to 2017


We are rapidly heading into the last third of the year, so today is an excellent time to take a few minutes to assess your writing goals and progress for 2016 and to determine just what you’d like to accomplish in these last four months. Whether September represents autumn to you or heading back to school or something else entirely, there’s no denying that it kicks off a busy time of the year, when everything seems to ramp up and it’s a race to get things done before the holidays hit. Every year I know that, once Labor Day weekend arrives, it feels like just a short hop to New Year’s Eve. So I plan. Ruthlessly.

At some point today or tomorrow, dig out that calendar or spreadsheet or list that you used to set your writing goals for 2016. Is there anything you can check off? Anything that no longer seems pertinent to your big picture plans? What progress have you made on longer term goals? Is there something that’s fallen by the wayside you’d like to revisit? It should only take a few minutes to glance through your goals and figure out where you stand.

Now, please don’t beat yourself up if things aren’t going according to schedule. Goal-making should be motivating and inspirational, not send you into a funk. Be reasonable about your efforts and what life has thrown your way, and be honest about whether or not you’ve done the best you can. If you can step things up a little, great. Set that as one of your goals in the coming months. If you’ve been overwhelmed with responsibilities and life’s curve balls, accept that sometimes things happen that force you to take a longer route to your goals, and cut yourself a little slack. Celebrate your successes, then see how you can refocus in the future.

Also, keep in mind that like most things in life, a writing career is not all forward momentum. There will be weeks when you make great leaps in progress and others when it feels like you’re stagnating or even going backwards. Published writers still receive rejection letters. Prize winning authors still write less-than-brilliant books. Not every idea sparkles on the page.

But if you don’t have any idea where you’d like to go, it’s much harder to get there. So once you’ve figured out where you are, take a look around and set yourself a direction. What would you like to get done before January? What’s realistic? What requires a bit of a stretch? How much of this is in your control? Remember to set yourself goals and then determine what steps you need to take to achieve them. You want measurable, actionable things on your list, so you know what to do when you get up in the morning.

Unless you’re starting absolutely from scratch, it shouldn’t take you much more than an hour or so to review your goals and spruce them up for the next four months. Then go write.

Friday Links: Facets of the Writing Life

TGIF! The weekend has arrived, and I hope it’s brought some time off for all of you to read, write, and sneak in a bit of relaxation. People seem to be anxious to acknowledge the end of summer, but officially we still have a few weeks to go, and even unofficially we have another week until the long Labor Day weekend. So I say make the most of it.

I’ve been thinking quite a bit this week of all the facets of the writer’s life. Even the act of writing itself varies enormously from person to person, by what they write, how often, level of commitment, etc. So it’s probably no surprise that several of this week’s links revolve around the lives of writers, including how they live, how they work, where they work, and so on. I think I’ve found a balance of serious, informational, and humorous, and there should be something here for everyone. Enjoy, and happy writing!

N.K. Jemisin on Diversity in Science Fiction and Inspiration from Dreams – Jemisin, the first black writer to win the Hugo Award for a Novel, talks about her experiences writing The Fifth Season and with the award process.

How Instagram Became the New Oprah’s Book Club – An interesting look at the social media platform’s role in book marketing.

Five Reasons Why Writers Should Move to Columbus – Ohio, that is. For writers whose pockets won’t stretch to New York or LA.

In Order to Live: Story Structure on the Horoscopic Scale – An intricate look at all the ways writers attack story structure.

Tin House Is Accepting Unsolicited Submissions for 2017 – Details on the latest open reading period for the literary magazine.

The Spoils of Destruction – The story of Thomas Mann’s Pacific Palisades house, and its current uncertain fate.

On the Barbizon Hotel, and the Women Writers Who Lived There – A look at the famous New York City hotel where young, single women stayed when they came to make their fortune in the big city.

Antarctic Artists & Writers Program – A program that enables writers and other artists to visit Antarctica for creative purposes.