Friday Links: Stories Only You Can Tell

This week I’m focused on the idea that there are stories only you can tell. Writers sometimes struggle to find their unique voice. But often the problem lies in trying to tell a story that has no personal connection.

Last weekend, at the Surrey International Writers’ Conference, I listened to a number of very different keynote speeches. Tetsuro Shigematsu shared tales of family, of his relationships with his sisters, his father, and how they influenced the stories he told. Amal El-Mohtar spoke of belonging, of the sense memory of scent and how a whiff of something familiar and beloved can draw you into a community. Mary Robinette Kowal spoke about mechanics and voice and that something else that draws you in–or rather her charming puppet did. Liza Palmer talked about being real on the page, and the importance of being real in life first. These writers, and many others over the course of the conference, dug deep into themselves to tap into their stories. They shared personal moments, and in doing so, chose specific details to make the narrative relatable.

When writing fiction, writers dig just as deeply into their psyches to make their stories sing. Every story you write is your own story, whether you mine true-life experiences or let your imagination roam. Find the bits that touch your heart, make you laugh or cry. The choices you make will reveal your unique voice, and will result in stories only you can tell.

This week’s collection of links is something of a hodgepodge, but I hope you will consider them in light of the above. Think about it while reading great books, while working on your current project, while going for a run. Enjoy, and happy writing.

This Week’s Links

I Talked to 150 Writers and Here’s the Best Advice They Had. – A great collection of tidbits from a wide selection of authors.

How a kid who didn’t read a book until he was 17 grew up to become a literary star. – Short interview with award-winning YA author Jason Reynolds.

13 new Halloween reads to chill, amuse, inform, and terrify. – Some books to add to your seasonal TBR pile this weekend.

23 Writing Competitions to Enter Before the End of the Year. – A varied list of competitions with upcoming deadlines.

50 Great Narrative Nonfiction Books. – Some wonderful nonfiction to break up that pile of novels you’re working on, inform, inspire, and entertain.

The original synopsis of Harry Potter that J.K. Rowling sent to publishers has been revealed. – A few caveats: Rowling probably sent this (or something similar) to agents, and ultimately her agent sent it to publishers. It’s just the first page, as visible in the new British Library exhibit. Finally, it is definitely the synopsis, not the pitch or query as was declared by BuzzFeed elsewhere. But it gives a great idea of the pacing and level of detail for a synopsis. I’d guess this runs about 2-3 pages total.

Cold War Noir: 10 Novels that Defined an Anxious Era. – Given current politics, these types of novels are once again all the rage.

Necessary Whimsy: Vampire Bunnies and Other Weird-But-Fun Halloween Reads. – For anyone looking for a little humor with their  horror this year.

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.

 

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 Public Face of Writing

Happy Friday! It’s been a very busy week around here and it promises to continue right through the weekend. I’ve got back-to-back writers’ events, serving on the faculty for the Los Angeles SCBWI Writer’s Day tomorrow, and then speaking to LARA, the local chapter of RWA, on Sunday. Sunday afternoon I plan to curl up with some client manuscripts, so it’s safe to say my weekend has a theme. Though given that we’re setting the clocks an hour ahead this weekend (Spring forward!), there might end up being some nap time in there, too.

Have you got your weekend all mapped out or are you going to take it easy and wing it? Whatever your plans, I hope some reading/writing figures into them. Time keeps galloping along, so think about your goals and try to do at least one thing this weekend that helps you progress with your plans.

Now to this week’s links. They feel a little bit all over the place, but I think if there’s a unifying concept it’s that many deal with the appearance of things in the writing world: publicity, trends, social concerns, etc. Writers start off in their little bubbles, but it’s no longer possible to stay there. So take a look and I hope you find something edifying, inspiring, or just plain entertaining. Happy writing!

The Things We Do to Promote the Books We Write – A look at the lengths writers go to in order to get the word out on their books. Creativity isn’t limited to the writing, after all.

“Women Built This Castle:” An In-depth Look at Sexism in YA – About attitudes in the industry, among writers, and within the books themselves.

26 Bookshelves that Will Give You Serious Goals – Basically bookshelf porn for the book lover, but so much fun.

The Fandom Flurry: A YA Reading List – A look at the trend in YA toward books that have characters immersed in fandom, with a list of upcoming titles.

A Former Book Publicist’s Advice to Traditionally Published Authors – Some excellent information.

6 Ways to Spring Clean Your Writing – Tips on how to get organized.

OTHERPPL with Brad Listi – Fabulous podcast with long, in-depth interviews with writers. Most recent 50 interviews are free at all times; for a small subscription fee you can gain access to the entire archive (more than 400 total at this time).

B&N Nukes the Nook with a 15 March Deadline for Customers to Save Content – Heads up if you own a Nook.

Friday Links: Writing Advice to Escape the Doldrums

Happy Friday the 13th! Does anyone truly get spooked when that day and date collide? I’ve always wondered. One of these days I need to look more closely into the origins of the superstition. I do know that in some countries, 13 is considered a lucky number. Funny how differently these things develop depending on where you are.

In my book, Fridays are a good thing pretty much across the board, though this week I anticipate burning a bit of midnight oil to finish up some things I swore wouldn’t creep into the weekend. Earlier this week I had my phone and internet upgraded, and of course that meant no service plus a technician on the premises for a good chuck of a day. It never ceases to amaze me what a few lost hours of work time can do to my schedule. But on the upside, I now have speedier internet, and my computer no longer groans when I go to download email with enormous manuscripts attached.

But enough chatter; I have Friday links to share. This week I seem to have a backlog of links I’ve been meaning to post previous weeks along with some new things I discovered, so in the interest of closing tabs, I’m just going to throw them down and let you all go to town. Plenty to entertain and inspire here, especially if you’re feeling like you need a bit of a pep talk. Enjoy, and happy writing!

Colum McCann’s Letter to a Young Writer – Some lovely words of advice to keep you plugging along, no matter your age or stage of writing career.

How Do You Write for Teenagers? – Looking to write YA? Here are some words of wisdom from writers in the know.

I Hate Women’s Fiction and I’ll Tell You Why – An impassioned and intelligent look at the distinction between works of fiction about women written by women, and those written by men.

Sometimes Writer’s Block Is Really Depression – An honest, personal account from author Mary Robinette Kowal.

Why We Read (and Write) Short Stories – An interesting analysis by skilled short-story writer Lorrie Moore.

The Rachel Connection: Why Rachel Fershleiser Is a Wizard of New York’s Literary Community – The woman behind bookish Tumblr.

How to Build Your Own Self-Hosted Author Website in 30 Minutes – Clear step-by-step instructions from author Joanna Penn.

To Question and Be Questioned: The Millions Interviews Azar Nafisi – An interview with the author of Reading Lolita in Tehran and The Republic of Imagination: A Life in Books.

6 Things You Should Never Write About for NaNoWriMo – A list of things to avoid when diving into NaNoWriMo, or, in the case of most of them, any writing project at all.

Friday Links

TGIF! The only problem with taking a vacation is coming home and needing to catch up with everything that happened while you were away. I’m still digging out from beneath my email-and-manuscript mountain, so I apologize for the state of quiet here this week, but I do have Friday Links, and with a little luck by next week it will be business as usual.

I feel like there’s been quite a bit of uproar in the publishing world the last couple of weeks, which is reflected in these links, but I did try to balance all the hoopla out with some other sorts of things. Regardless, I hope you find them interesting and entertaining. Wishing you a wonderful weekend, and some good writing/reading time. Enjoy!

Ursula LeGuin at 85 – A wonderful BBC Radio interview with the author.

The 2014 VIDA Count – A look at how many women’s voices made it into periodicals last year.

Why Keeping a Journal Is so Important for Writers and All Creative Types – An interesting look at how to use a journal for inspiration and to organize ideas.

The Hugo Awards Were Always Political. But Now They’re Only Political. – A look at the kerfuffle regarding this year’s Hugo nominations, with links to additional material.

145+ YA Books for your April – June 2015 Radar – A wonderful wrap up of new YA titles due out in the next few months.

Friday Links

Another week down, and with it the endless political phone calls that have been plaguing us here in the United States for the last month or so. Thank goodness. Time to move forward.

Speaking of forward movement, those of you participating in NaNoWriMo are closing in on the one-third mark, and should have somewhere in the neighborhood of 15,000 to 16,000 words today. If you haven’t gotten that far, don’t panic; there’s plenty of time to catch up still. Just get those words down, and don’t let your internal editor rear his ugly head. Tell him to wait for December.

Leaving you with a few Friday links to entertain and inform you. Enjoy, and happy writing!

YA Fiction and the End of Boys – An interesting look at the role of boys in today’s YA fiction.

5 Fun Facts about Bram Stoker on His 165th Birthday – Entertaining look at the father of the modern vampire novel.

Why You Should Write By Hand – A look at how writing by hand might affect the quality of your manuscript.

Book Shopping with the Best-Read Man in America – My idea of the best sort of shopping trip.