Friday Links: Time and the Writer

Happy Friday! I’ll kick off this weekend with a reminder that tomorrow, April 30th, is Indie Bookstore Day. It’s a wonderful excuse to hit your favorite local indie bookstore and browse those shelves. Many stores have events scheduled and assorted special merchandise available for the occasion. It’s also a wonderful way to spend a few hours with the kids in your life, so be sure to take them along.

This weekend is also another good chance to check in with your writing goals for the year. End of April means we’re a third of the way through 2016, as hard as that might be to believe, so take a moment to assess where you are and where you’d like to be. Maybe set some mini goals for May — a task per week — to get yourself back on track or to make a bit of quick progress.

To help you on your way, I have both writerly and bookish links for you today. Several have something to do with time, and timeliness, and though I by no means encourage anyone to wait around for fate to determine their course of action, sometimes it steps in when we least expect it. I hope these links give you some inspiration for your own work, and maybe an idea or two of something to pick up on your bookstore visit. Enjoy, and have a wonderful weekend!

Shakespeare and His Stuff — As part of the ongoing celebration of the 400th anniversary of the Bard’s death, an interesting look into what he know of the man through his things.

Alexander Chee on What Writing Parties Reveals about Characters — How to make those group scenes really work for you.

Ondaatje: Embrace Creativity in Your Writing — The author shares his approach to creating. Please note that this site, rather than requiring registration or a subscription, asks readers to take a very short survey before loading the article.

On Finding the Right Book at the Right Time — An author shares two occasions when a book particularly entwined with her experiences.

Jonathan Coe on the Top 10 Books Written about Books – Pretty much as described.

Paula Hawkins: The Woman Behind The Girl on the Train — A brief background on the author and discussion of her break-out work.

Writing for a Better World — Author Christopher Golden shares his keynote speech from the recent DFW Writers’ Conference.

Friday Links: The Spring Fever Edition

Welcome to Friday! I have a readathon this weekend, which has me very excited, although a part of me questions how this is different than just about any other weekend. It’s just a more formal version of my favorite way to spend the weekend, with added on permission to ignore the laundry until the readathon is complete.

So what do you all have planned for your weekend? Spring keeps coming and going in various parts of the country so I find it hard to know who can escape outdoors and who is going to be curling up with a book and hot chocolate. But it still feels like time for spring fever, that twitchiness that makes you want to romp and play.

Whatever you have on your schedule, I hope you pencil in a bit of writing time. Maybe peek at those goals for your year and chip away at something. Regardless, have a good one and enjoy!

Chorus Lines – One writer explains how his experiences in the theater made him a better writer.

The Secret History of Jane Eyre: Charlotte Brontë’s Private Fantasy Stories – In honor of the anniversary of the author’s birth, a look at the fantastical stories she wrote in private before she became published.

Stephen King Used These 8 Writing Strategies to Sell 350 Million Books – A great cheat sheet for the key points King mentions in his book, On Writing. I recommend the entire book, but these are also a wonderful reference for daily use.

Structure: What Writers Can Learn from Visual Artists – An interesting approach to filling in the blanks of your story.

One-Sitting Books Perfect for a Readathon – Or for anyone pressed for time. Some great picks here, and I actually read a couple during previous readathons.

Opportunities for Writers: May and June 2016 – A list of places to submit or enter your work with deadlines coming up in the next couple of months.

2016 Pulitzer Prize Winners – A list of winners in all of this year’s categories. If you haven’t read the Kathryn Schultz piece for The New Yorker, I recommend it.

Modern Retellings of Shakespeare for Every Reader – In honor of the anniversary of the playwright’s death, a fun collection of works inspired by his plays.

Friday Links: A Hodgepodge of Inspiration

TGIF! I’m currently in Las Vegas on the fringes of the RT Book Lovers Convention (meaning I’m not really attending, but I’m there in the background, holding a few meetings), but I cannot leave you without Friday Links! So here are this week’s goodies. Whatever your plans for the weekend, I hope you squeeze in a bit of time to write. After all, every word counts, even those that end up being part of what gets cut in a revision. The most difficult thing to fix is a blank page, so fill your pages with words and go from there. Enjoy!

Why You Should Write Something Pointless – Some helpful tips to take the pressure off.

9 Websites for Readers Who Think about Books All Day, Every Day – You probably know most of these, but just in case…

Shakespeare on a Stamp – In honor of the 400th anniversary of the death of the Bard, the Royal Mail has put the man on the stamp. Or at least his words.

We Want to Hear New Voices: Diversity in Sci-fi and Fantasy – An interview with Zen Cho and Andre Carrington on diversity in sff, with some great reading suggestions from both the speakers and the folks calling in.

Ploughshares Emerging Writer’s Contest – Deadline approaching May 15th, so check it out.

Ruth Sepetys at LA Times Festival of Books

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.

 

LA Times Festival of Books: A Quick Wrap-up

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Every April, The Los Angeles Times hosts their Festival of Books (note: their website is already gearing up for next year), a two-day extravaganza that features panel conversations on every publishing, writing, and bookish topic imaginable, author signings and interviews, awards, and a campus-full of stages and tents catering to everything from cookbooks to young adult fiction to literary magazines to local writing groups and organizations. And since writers and readers need to eat, there have also been a heck of a lot of food trucks in recent years. It’s a feast for the eyes, the brain, and the stomach, much of it outdoors, and really, what more could you ask for on a spring weekend?

This past weekend we might have asked for a little less rain, but the weather on Saturday was more drippy than anything, and the sun obligingly came out on Sunday. I try to attend most years, and was glad it was a bit cooler and maybe a touch less crowded than usual, though there were still plenty of people in attendance. I went to a number of panels and heard authors speak on their recent works, including young adult authors Nicola Yoon, Jason Reynolds, Ruta Sepetys, and Victoria Aveyard; romance authors Tessa Dare and Anne Girard; and upmarket authors Alexander Chee, Laila Lalami, Stewart O’Nan, Aimee Bender and more. I managed not to cart home any more books, but only because purchasing them at the festival meant carrying them around the USC campus the rest of the day. I certainly added a number of titles to my TBR list, and of course I’ve already read much of these authors’ work.

Anyone near LA or planning to travel in this direction should aim to come the weekend of the book festival. It’s a wonderful event every year and catnip for anyone who loves to read and write. But in the meantime, I’ll be posting a few videos over the next few days to share some of the interviews held with attending authors. Whether or not your read/write the genre in which these authors work, I think you’ll find they each have a great deal to share.

Book View Now with Mary Norris at AWP16

All hail the Comma Queen! Anyone who’s spent any time around me knows I have a bit of a grammar thing. I love when people use it properly, and its rampant misuse (as opposed to the occasional typo or error) makes me twitchy. So imagine my delight when The New Yorker‘s delightful Mary Norris turned out to be one of the speakers at AWP16. So for my final bit of love to that conference before I move on to the more recent LA Times Festival of Books, I offer up this excellent interview.

2016 AWP Conference & Book Fair: A Quick Roundup

As previously mentioned, I recently spent three days wandering around the Los Angeles Convention Center with some 13,000+ writers, editors, agents, booksellers, librarians, and other assorted writing-related people for the 2016 AWP Conference and Book Fair. This isn’t the normal sort of conference I attend. Mostly I go places where they stick me on a panel or have me stand behind a podium and answer questions, and then at some point I will sit across a table from a parade of writers and listen to pitches or possibly critique first pages of their work. What made AWP16 so different and so much fun (not that I don’t enjoy my normal conference experience, because I do) was that this time around I was flying somewhat under the radar. I was an attendee rather than a participant, which meant I had the opportunity to go to panels and sit in the audience and listen to what other people had to say.

Over the course of three days I sat in on some 10-12 panels on a variety of subjects, including a session on visual narrative that looked at illuminated books, graphic novels, and participatory storytelling such as gaming apps; a panel of agents discussing equality and gender on the business side of publishing; the use of film techniques to engage readers in young adult literature; ideas for harnessing the social media skills of a group of writers to provide support and cross marketing; subjects that are (or are not) taboo in young adult fiction; and a discussion of the realms of real and unreal in writing. There were conversations with writers I knew and others I had just met, and hours spent wandering the floor of the main hall where hundreds of small presses, publishers, literary mags, MFA programs, poetry chapbook authors, PR people and others had set up their tables.

Publishing has always been a moving target, an ever-evolving industry that changes shape at the rate of storm clouds. But some trends trumpet more loudly than others. I heard a lot of discussion and debate about diversity in all of its permutations, from the need for more diverse people working in publishing to the importance of championing varied characters in books as well as a spectrum of writers to tell their stories. There were in-depth looks at ways to promote work in this age of social media and a steady increase in competing forms of entertainment, and thoughts on how to harness some of the new forms of technology to tell stories in fresh, exciting ways. But there were also still people lugging tote bags filled with newly acquired books — paperback and hardcover alike. There were halls filled with enchanted listeners as writers read from their latest releases. I saw many aspiring writers bent over notebooks, frantically scribbling notes on advice from the pros. Some things remain forever the same.

There’s no graceful way for me to share every nugget of information I absorbed in those three days. Instead, I offer up a few links to sites and books that I heard about that might provide some inspiration or at least food for thought.

In terms of visual narrative:

Bats of the Republic by Zach Dodson – an illuminated novel that includes hand-drawn maps, letters, and other items that join with the text to tell the story.

A Life in Books: The Rise and Fall of Bleu Mobley by Warren Lehrer – an illuminated novel that features 101 books ostensibly authored by the title character.

PRY novella by Tender Claws – a novella and an app that allows reader interactions designed to put you in the narrator’s experience/thoughts.

In terms of the changing face of publishing:

Literary Publishing in the 21st Century – essays by a variety of writers, editors, etc. on the future of the industry, including the effects of technology, the fight for diversity, and more.

VIDA: Women in Literary Arts – home of the famed VIDA count, which holds magazines accountable for their diversity (now newly expanded to include race, gender, ethnicity, sexual identity, and ability).

In terms of marketing:

Tall Poppy Writers – a marketing collective started by a group of women’s fiction authors and now somewhat more broad in its scope, the purpose of which was to share social media knowledge and talents and to support each other’s book launches and careers.

Anyone interested in AWP’s annual conference and/or membership in the organization should check out their site: Association of Writers & Writing Programs.

 

Friday Links: Writing Aspirations and Inspirations

TGIF! I hope you’ve all had a wonderful, productive week, and that you have some excellent weekend plans. I’m off to the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books both tomorrow and Sunday. We’re anticipating some rain on both days, so I hope that doesn’t discourage people from attending. It’s a fabulous event every year and I’m always quite disappointed when something comes up to keep me from going.

I do intend to get a post up over the weekend detailing my AWP adventures from last week, so if you’re hanging around the internet, be sure to stop by. Otherwise, I wish you lots of good reading and/or writing time, and I’ll leave you with this week’s collection of Friday Links of things to aspire to or that might just inspire you. Enjoy!

James Triptree, Jr. Literary Award 2015 Winners – Great roundup that includes the long list folks, etc.

Lin-Manuel Miranda: By the Book – The brilliant force behind Hamilton the musical provides his reading inspirations to The New York Times.

Pacemaker: A Word Count Planner for Writers and Students – Pretty much as described. Great for setting goals and tracking your progress.

10 Contemporary Baseball Books for the New Season – A fun list in honor of the return of baseball.

10 Mistakes (Almost) Every Rookie Writer Makes – Some good tips and things to keep in mind.

Conquering Six Enemies of Deep Point of View – Wonderful checklist of questions to apply to your work.

Kelly Link Interview – AWP16

Book View Now with Ruth Ozeki at AWP16

At the end of last week, I attended the 2016 AWP Conference & Book Fair, which was held here in Los Angeles. I’m still working on gathering my thoughts for a post about my own experiences, which were myriad and diverse, but in the meantime I thought I’d post this fascinating interview — one of many that took place over the course of the conference — with author Ruth Ozeki. She speaks about her novel A Tale for the Time Being, reflecting on the spark for the book and the ways in which world events affected her narrative. Such an interesting discussion — I hope you find it inspiring.