Friday Links: Short but Sweet Ideas for Writers and Readers

Happy Friday, everyone! I’m on the fly today so I’m keeping this short in more ways than one. Most of this week’s Friday Links offer up quick ideas for kicking your writing and/or career into high gear, bits of advice that have a major impact, and reads that tend to be on the shorter side. No matter how busy you are this weekend, there’s no reason why you can’t squeeze in a little inspiration. Wishing you a great one. Enjoy!

9 Tiny Letters for Writers and Readers – A list of newsletters on writing, reading, and book culture that pack a lot into a fairly short space.

‘The First This Time:’ A New Generation of Writers on Race in America – A look at the timely, important new collection edited by Jesmyn Ward.

BBC to broadcast lost Tolkien recordings – A new program on BBC 4 scheduled for Saturday, August 6th. Non-Brits can check out the BBC website for details on listening online.

11 Ways to Overcome Marketing Dread – Helpful tips on how to market your work, engage in social media, etc.

How to Build a Great Newsletter, According to 4 Freelancers – Wonderful advice that can easily be adapted by other kinds of writers.

10 Steps to a Successful Book Launch – More excellent marketing advice. For those publishing traditionally, keep in mind that you want to keep your editor and in-house PR person in the loop on your plans so you don’t duplicate your publisher’s efforts.

The Best Cities in the World for Book Lovers – Just in case you’re still plotting that summer vacation…

 

Brain Drain and the Writer

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Pretty much everyone experiences it once in a while. Call it burn out or fatigue or brain drain (my personal favorite), but you stop running long enough to sit in front of your keyboard and get some writing done and your mind just goes blank. No one home. No ideas, no energy, nothing but the sensation of your brain cells possibly liquifying and draining out through your ears — the origin of my preferred moniker for the situation.

Honestly? That’s me right now. My blogging has been a little sparse in recent weeks, and I feel the self-imposed pressure to come up with an informative, thoughtful post for all of you. Something that’s not a list of links or a general announcement or an embedded video of someone else’s ideas or experience. All of those are wonderful blog content, but I always aim to keep a percentage of posts my own original material and, well… not much of that going on at the moment. Because the instant I clicked on Add New Post (a good 40 minutes ago), I realized that my brain was not going to be cooperative this morning.

What causes brain drain? In my case, I’ve been on a reading jag for work — more so than usual — pushing through a lot of submissions and client material, some of which require editorial notes. I attended a conference, taught a webinar, tackled a whole bunch of behind-the-scenes contract/vendor/distribution details on a number of projects. It’s been brutally hot on and off for weeks and I’m sleeping badly as a result. And I won’t even go into the personal end of things. So, business as usual? Busy life as always? Yes, of course, but it does add up, and my brain has apparently decided I’ve hit the point of maximum density. Time to drain everything and start over. In other words, it’s telling me I need a little break.

Now, brain drain is not the same thing as writer’s block, though they certainly can overlap. But where writer’s block often signals that you need to get a better fix on where your story needs to go (or where it has been in those last pages you wrote), brain drain calls for a letting up — taking time away from the chaos and the hectic schedule to breathe and clear your head. Brain drain demands a day off or a long nap with the phone silenced or an honest-to-goodness vacation. It’s tempting to try to squeeze the life out of every moment of your day, especially for writers who often need to fight so hard just to find the time to focus on their current work in progress. But as important as it is to commit to your writing, it’s also important to maintain your health and well being so you can produce your best work. And sometimes that means giving yourself a break.

So the next time you find yourself staring at the blank page, ask when you last did something completely mindless. You may discover you’re overdue for an afternoon playing hooky or a long weekend at the beach.

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!

Friday Links: Ways to Make Your Writing Flow

TGIF! It’s been a long, hot week here in the L.A. area and I’m looking forward to spending my weekend in air conditioned spaces, splitting my time between reading for work and knocking out a few chores. Not very exciting, but I look forward to knocking some things off my to-do list and starting next week with that great feeling of accomplishment that comes with finally finishing tasks that have been lingering too long.

How about all of you? Fun plans for this weekend? Some quality reading and/or writing time? Whatever you’re up to, I hope you enjoy and that it leaves you excited to kick off a new week. In the meantime, I have this week’s Friday Links! It’s a good assortment, and there should be something here to intrigue just about everyone. Enjoy, and happy writing!

How to Write a Novel – An interesting look at the process, with a particular focus on “planners” vs. “pantsers.”

10 Tips for Finding Inspiration – Author Eileen Cook shares some ideas to help you get those thoughts flowing.

Want to Work in 18 Miles of Books? First, the Quiz – A look at the hiring process for The Strand bookstore in New York.

Women Crime Writers Are Not a Fad – A look at the long history of women writing in the genre, with some wonderful recommendations for anyone looking for an exciting read.

Bad Girls: An Interview with Emma Cline – Tin House talks to the young author, whose recent book has garnered a lot of attention.

Once All but Dead, Is Cursive Making a Comeback? – A strange but interesting look at a resurgence in teaching cursive writing in schools. As someone who still writes in cursive, I’ve been wondering how these new generations were going to be able to read what I wrote — or what anyone wrote by hand the last few hundred years. I’m curious to see how this pans out.

6 Tips for Cleaning Up Your Dirty Words (Grammatically, Of Course) – Ways to make profanity a seamless part of your writing when it’s appropriate to the character/genre/text.

Friday Links: Books as Writing Teachers

Happy Friday! Apologies for the lack of links last week. I was in San Diego for the RWA National Conference, and though I intended to post, my schedule kind of ran away with itself (and with me). It was a wonderful conference, so I only feel a little bad. But I’m back with an assortment of things to keep you reading and writing through the upcoming weekend, especially if — like me — you’re facing triple-digit temperatures for the duration. But I will say that if you feel the need to take a movie break along the way, I highly recommend the new Star Trek movie, which I saw last night and was terrific. I suspect I’ll be sneaking in a repeat viewing.

Now on to this week’s Friday Links. There’s a particular emphasis this week on improving your writing through reading widely and well. Wishing you all a lovely weekend filled with fun and inspiration, and hopefully some progress on your current WIP. Enjoy!

24 in 48 Readathon – My favorite readathon is taking place this weekend. For those of you who aren’t familiar, the idea is to read for 24 hours out of 48 between Saturday and Sunday. It’s low pressure, with people reading however much they can, with a bunch of fun social media activities and friendly sharing of book recs. There’s still time to sign up!

Do Writers Need to Be Alone to Thrive? – An interesting look at the benefits of solitude for a writing career.

What Our Editors Look for on an Opening Page – Some great insider tips from the folks at Penguin Random House.

15 Literary Magazines for New & Unpublished Writers – A list of markets for writers looking to break into publication.

Welcome to the Last Bookstore – A great short documentary featuring Josh Spencer, who owns and operates the iconic bookstore in downtown Los Angeles.

7 YA Books that Are as Good as a Writing Class – I’m not sure I’d go quite that far, but these titles will definitely illustrate some wonderful writing techniques if you read them closely, plus give you good insight into the recent YA market.

On the Journals of Famous Writers – Interesting look at the differences in writers’ journals and what can be gained by reading them.

 

Book Release Day: Rock Wedding by Nalini Singh

 

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Wishing a very happy book release day to Nalini Singh, whose newest title in the Rock Kiss series, ROCK WEDDING, comes out today.

New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh continues her Rock Kiss series with a hot, sweet, emotional contemporary romance about love and forgiveness…

After a lifetime of longing for a real family, Sarah Smith thought she’d finally found her home with rock star Abe Bellamy, even if she knew Abe didn’t love her the way she loved him. But their brief relationship, filled with tragedy and heartache, nearly destroyed her. Alone, emotions in turmoil, and already shaky self-esteem shattered, Sarah struggles to pick up the pieces in the wake of their divorce.

Abe knows he’s to blame for the end of his marriage. Caught in a web of painful memories, he pushed away the best thing in his life – the sexy, smart woman he adores – breaking them both in the process. Then fate throws him a second chance to get things right, to prove to Sarah that she means everything to him. Abe desperately wants that second chance at love…even if he knows he doesn’t deserve it.

But can he convince Sarah – now strong and independent without him – to risk her wounded heart one more time?

You can find ROCK WEDDING on sale now at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, and Kobo. Print copies are currently available for preorder, on sale July 22nd, and audio books are coming soon.

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!

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: Sparking Creative Whimsy

Happy Friday, everyone! It’s a holiday weekend here in the U.S., coming on the heels of another busy week. Thanks to everyone who came out and pitched during the Twitter Pitch Fest on Wednesday, and to everyone else who spread the word, cheered on the writers who were pitching, or was just generally excited during the event. We had a fabulous time and saw so many amazing pitches over the 8-hour window. I know we’re going to be busy reading for quite a while.

For those of you who didn’t hear about the pitch fest until too late, weren’t quite ready to pitch your manuscript, or couldn’t quite imagine pitching in 140 characters or less, please remember that The Knight Agency is open to general submissions, and we’re always happy to read your queries. Please check out our submission guidelines for complete details.

Now on to this week’s links! I’ve got a pretty broad assortment, including some whimsy in honor of the holiday. Whether you’re hanging out at the beach or poolside, picnicking or kicking back at home, I hope you all have a lovely time this weekend and manage to squeeze in a bit of personal creative time. Even if you set aside your writing project, take some photos or try your hand at sketching, bake something delicious or play in your garden. You’ll be surprised at what sorts of inspiration pop up when you’re occupied with other things. You might even generate some fresh ideas to help push your goals forward in this second half of the year. Enjoy!

All Stories Are the Same – On the constants of dramatic storytelling.

5 Writing Tips to Creating a Page Turner – Author Eileen Cook offers a great checklist for making sure you keep your reader hooked.

Habitually Chic: A Little Life – Bookshelf envy, which I share with you all. Scroll down to see author Hanya Yanagihara’s amazing book collection.

The Obsessively Detailed Map of American Literature’s Most Epic Road Trips – Fun for planning a summer road trip, even if it’s just of the armchair variety.

10 Lessons Learned from My First Grown-Up Writing Job – One writer shares some hard-earned knowledge.

OED Birthday Word Generator – Find out what word originated around the year you were born.

Putting Borges’ Infinite Library on the Internet – A look at how the concept behind Borges’ story about the Library of Babel translates to the web.