Friday Links: Online Listening Edition for Podcast Fans

Happy Friday, everyone, and welcome to the online listening edition of Friday Links. This week I’ve been obsessing a bit about podcasts. I’m not a regular podcast listener. I don’t subscribe to any, and normally I end up streaming them from their websites rather than through iTunes or the like. My listening depends on my running across something interesting more than any adherence to a specific thing. Not to say I don’t enjoy them, because I do. But podcasts fall into the same category as audio books for me. If I am listening while doing something more complicated than driving or walking, I tune out. It’s just how my brain works. I’m more of a visual person. I like to read print. My mind wanders if I’m listening to something recorded without a corresponding image. But this week was a bit different.

microphone for online listening

It actually started with Audible, not with podcasts. I do have an Audible account and will listen to books while walking or driving more than 20 minutes or so. But Audible really got my attention by adding two additional freebies to membership. They now offer two downloads of Audible Originals per month, from a list of six titles they choose. No extra fee, no credits required. So suddenly I had more listening material at my fingertips. Mind you, I’m already working my way through The Three Musketeers (unabridged and over 20 hours), but I like having a variety. But then came the email from Danny Gregory about his latest podcast episode of Art for All–featuring an interview with Austin Kleon.

I believe firmly in branching out when it comes to seeking advice on a creative life. I like to dabble in arts and crafts and photography when I’m not nose-deep in a book. And I check out books or websites by various types of artists, as well. So I’m a fan of Danny Gregory, and Sketchbook Skool, the online art class platform he co-runs. I gave his newish podcast a try when it first started, but it didn’t really capture my attention. This week’s episode, however, was a different story. Gregory’s interview with Kleon covers so many aspects of the creative life. They discuss Kleon’s system of journaling, working on paper versus digitally, and his thoughts on why so many people are trying to turn their art into a career. So interesting, and relatable to many artistic endeavors.

Unlike many podcasts, this one wasn’t streaming from the landing page, so I ended up listening on iTunes. When I finished, I went scouting for more things to listen to and came up with a handful of other recommendations. They’re all related to books and/or writing and creativity, and I’m bookmarking for future listening binges. I’m also adding them here to the rest of this week’s links. I hope you find something fun to check out over the weekend for a bit of reading and writing inspiration. Enjoy!

Online Listening Links:

Art for All. – The main page for Danny Gregory’s art-related podcast focusing on the creative life.

The Librarian Is In. – A fabulous podcast run by the New York Public Library, featuring two very entertaining hosts, frequent guests, and diverse book recommendations.

Overdue. – A podcast where the hosts finally get around to reading (and discussing) those books that have been lingering on their TBR lists way too long.

Other PPL with Brad Listi. – An old favorite of mine; one-on-one interviews with authors.

First Draft. – Another favorite. Interviews with young adult and middle grade authors.

Lit Up. – More great author interviews.

What Should I Read Next? – A book rec podcast run by Anne Bogel, of the popular blog, Modern Mrs. Darcy.

A Few Other Links:

Romance Bookstore The Ripped Bodice Poised to Bring the Genre to Television. – Announcing the store owners’ deal with Sony TV.

Bloomsbury Group’s Countryside Hub Opens to Visitors Year-Round. – In case you’re making literary travel plans…

23 Book Cover Designers to Follow on Instagram. – Pretty much what it says.

Regency Rendezvous: Inside the World of Jane Austen Fandom. – For diehard fans, a chance to step into the period.

 

Friday Links: Vacation Land Edition

Greetings from vacation land! I’m oficially off this week, though unofficially still doing a few things here and there. My travels involve driving to see friends for the day and wandering around Los Angeles’s prettier sites, rather than jetting off to some hot spot. But even while vacationing, I think about writing and reading. I work in publishing for a reason, after all. So the blog marches on. Now that I’m getting back in the swing of posting, I don’t want to spoil my streak.

blogging-in-vacation-land

That said, this week’s links are on the sparse side. I have spent very little time online this week (see: vacation land) and so did not discover the usual wealth of tidbits to share. But I’m excited for the ones I found, so I hope you find them inspirational and informative.

Also, if you didn’t see it earlier this week, I posted my thoughts on marginalia and whether or not taking notes in the margins as you read a book can make you a better writer. I got inspired by Austin Kleon’s post on Reading with a Pencil. so check out Kleon’s thoughts and then see my take on the subject. Please feel free to comment about your own experiences with making notes while reading. I’m curious as to how many people still use marginalia as a way to engage with their books. And if you’re an e-reader, those electronic notes you can take on Kindles count, too (though I’m not sure Kleon would agree with me). I’ll respond to more comments on that post once I’m officially back to work.

I plan to do some housekeeping here in coming weeks, both in terms of agenting and more general information. Longtime readers probably know this blog is only partly work related. It houses writing and publishing tips, book talk, and so on. But I also keep my public face here, in many respects, and I might do more of that in the future. Meanwhile, I bring you links from vacation land. Wishing you a wonderful weekend and some good writing time. Enjoy!

This week’s links:

Tin House Is Accepting Unsolicited Submissions for 2019. – Guidelines for submitting to the literary magazine.

How to Write a Traditionally Published Book: A Behind the Scenes Look. – One writer shares her experience building a writing career.

All the New Fantasy Books Coming Out in September. – Tor offers a great list of books to add to that TBR pile.

Francine Prose: It’s Harder than it Looks to Write Clearly. – The writer offers advice on saying what you mean in a readable way.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: I Became Black in America. – The author discusses feminism, race, and perception in Nigeria and the U.S.

Margin Notes: Does Marginalia Make You a Better Writer?

Do you scribble margin notes in your books when you read? I never really adopted the habit of keeping marginalia, but this past week I read Austin Kleon’s post, Reading with a Pencil, so now I’m thinking about it. He claims marking up your reading material serves as a gateway to becoming a writer. It forces you to read with a writer’s brain. I can see why he says it, but I wonder if it’s true.

Stack of books with pencils

Margin notes felt wrong to me when I was a kid. My mother trained me early on not to write in books. She took me to the library weekly, so there was a specific logic in her insistence I treat the books well. It carried over into how I kept my own books. I recall going through a very brief period at about four when I underlined (in pencil) words I recognized. I say recognized rather than read because “kitten” isn’t difficult to pick out with the book is The Three Little Kittens. But I outgrew the habit quickly, probably about the time my mother realized what I was doing.

Through school, I took notes separately, in my notebook. Teachers handed out all of our textbooks at the start of the year and expected us to return them in good condition in June. The habit was so well ingrained that by college, when I was purchasing my books, it took conscious effort to highlight the text. Even then, I reserved margin scribbles and highlights for my math and science books. As an English major, I mostly read novels in thin-paged editions I tried to keep clean. Ink would have bled through those pages. Pencil would smudge and become illegible. Writing in them felt impractical.

But occasionally I’d come across books with margin notes. At the library, used bookstores, in a friend’s loan. I read enough literary criticism and biographies of authors including references to marginalia to become curious. What process of reading resulted in these small comments? So I decided to give it a try.

Armed with a few sharpened pencils, I crashed on the couch with my latest book and set to reading with a pencil in hand. But it wasn’t a particularly successful experiment. I’d get involved in the book and forget to make any notes whatsoever. Or, I’d grow so self-conscious about needing to take notes that my reading slowed to a crawl.

Looking back having now read Kleon’s post, I understand that the slow, thoughtful reading necessitated by making margin notes helps you read more closely. It forces you to analyze the text in a different way. But at the time, I tried to take notes more because I wanted to be a person who left witty comments in the margins than from a desire to read deeply.

Which brings me to my question. Does keeping marginalia automatically give you a leg up on becoming a writer? It no doubt makes you a better reader. You read more thoroughly, think through the narrative on a different level. You engage with the content. And the act of writing notes has been proven to help you recall what you’ve read. But is that the same things as reading like a writer?

I once read a book on how to write romance–maybe twenty-five years ago, so I can’t recall the title. The author recommended taking a favorite romance novel and marking it up with a color code. Plot development should be underlined in one color, characterization in another, action a third, and so on. I gave it a very brief attempt before giving up. First, writing is not that clear cut; sentences serve multiple purposes at once, so what color to choose? Second, the slow, frustrating task had me ready to throw my colored pencils out a window after less than a chapter. I’d never make it through underlining the book. Still, the process of trying to separate out those differen parts of the text showed how well the author had entwine them. It served as a lesson on book structure, which was ultimately the point.

Marginalia can include the reader’s thoughts on many aspects of the text. Looking through books with margin notes, you’ll find lovely quotes underlined, disgust expressed at purple prose, and comments on the sanity of the protagonist. Readers focus on whatever captures their attention, but not everything readers note will be helpful to their writing process. I’d argue marginalia can definitely be helpful to the developing writer, but that the most helpful marginalia occurs when the writer reads with that specific intention. A reader who reads for pleasure and happens to make notes won’t engage on the same level as one hoping to improve their writing.

What are your thoughts? Do you write in your books? Is it something you feel helps you understand how the author approached their work? I’d love to hear some other takes on the subject.

Friday Links: Labor Day Weekend Edition

Here in the U.S., we’re heading into Labor Day weekend, so it seems wrong to tell you all to spend the holiday weekend laboring. Of course, many writers consider writing time precious and to be hoarded, time to indulge rather than time spent working. I don’t know any of those writers personally, but they do exist. At the end of the day, even when you enjoy the process, writing takes work. So this week’s links focus more on ways to relax this holiday weekend. If you’re not blessed with a holiday on Monday, please do piggyback on ours and have some fun this weekend anyway.

Labor Day Weekend by a lake

Meanwhile at agenting central, I’m in reading mode, trying to finish up some things for clients before taking time off myself. I will be out of the office next week, though I’m sure I’ll pop up online. It’s my last gasp vacation before the long fall haul until the end of the year. September always kicks off the busiest season for me, even if summer was busy, too. I’m attending several conferences over the next few months, dates for which will appear shortly in my travel schedule here on the site. In addition, I’m planning to send some of you back to school. More details on that when I return from vacation.

Looking for bookish activities for your long weekend? I’ve got some reading-centrinc suggestions in the links, but also it’s a great time to head to the movies. So many book-inspired films are either in theaters now, streaming, or coming soon. If you haven’t seen Crazy Rich Asians yet, go now! I’m queueing up To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before on Netflix. I loved the book, just haven’t had a chance to watch the movie quite yet. Also, The Bookshop, based on the Penelope Fitzgerald novel, opens in NYC and LA this weekend, elswhere soon. And finally, Jack Ryan, the series based on the Tom Clancy character, starts streaming on Amazon Prime today. I know there are more; those are just off the top of my head.

So without further ado, I’ll get to the links. I wish you a wonderful Labor Day weekend, or just weekend in general, with time to sit back and relax. Enjoy!

This week’s links:

Deciding to Read More than One Book at a Time Has Made it Easier than Ever for Me to Meet My Reading Goals. – The reading habits of a book nerd. I’m totally onboard with this.

My Favorite Bit: Andrea Phillips Talks about Bookburners Season 4. – Are you a fan of serialized fiction? Check this out for a peek into this great series at Serial Box, plus discounts on some early episodes if you’re looking to get started.

Problematic Classics: Four Questions to Ask When Beloved Books Haven’t Aged Well. – An interesting look at how to address older works from a modern, more socially aware perspective.

Haruki Murakami On Parallel Realities. – The author discusses his new story in The New Yorker.

All the New Genre-Bending Books Coming Out in September! – Nice round up of titles that might appeal to a broad readership. (And an excellent reason to finish that August TBR pile and make room for new goodies.)

The Books Tayari Jones and Ann Patchett Say Remind Them of Fall. – Can’t wait for red leaves and sweaters? Pick up one of these titles to get in the mood.

 

Friday Links: SFF Edition

In the wake of last weekend’s Hugo Awards, an SFF edition of Friday Links feels like a fun way to go. Not everything is science fiction or fantasy related, but a good chunk leans that way, including a nice wrap up of the Hugos themselves.

View of milky way through the treetops

My week was crazy in general, so I apologize if this week’s links run a little shorter than usual. I feel like we’re rushing headlong into September, and I’m not ready. I theorize that once we hit Labor Day, the rest of the year churns faster than usual. Not scientific, but it feels real.

So on that note, I leave you with some fun links to entertain and inspire you. Wishing you a wonderful weekend, filled with books and excellent writing time. Enjoy!

SFF Edition:

Hugo Awards: Women Clean Up as N.K. Jemisin Wins Best Novel Again. – A nice look at the list of winners, including N.K. Jemisin and her history-making three-peat winning the Best Novel award.

The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction Is the Best Place on the Internet. – A fun discussion and brief history of the online resource.

The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction. – The amazing resource referenced above.

Day in the Life of a Book Editor: Caroline Bleeke of Flatiron Books. – A peek at what the job of an editor entails.

The Weirdest Libraries Around the World. – A fun look at some offbeat libraries in unlikely locations.

Aliette de Bodars Recommends: Four Fantasy Books from Alternate Worlds. – Some great recs for stories with less frequently seen influences.

15 Highly Anticipated New Science Fiction and Fantasy Books for Fall. – Pretty much as described.

Nalini Singh’s Rebel Hard Cover Reveal

Have you seen the gorgeous REBEL HARD cover art? Here’s your chance, if not. If you have, another look at those abs can’t hurt.

Rebel Hard cover

I’m delighted to be able to share this cover with you. Not only because it’s beautiful, but because the book itself is delightful. It mixes romance, friends, and family, and contrasts cultural traditions with modern opinions. It also features so many characters I wish I could meet in person. This cover, by the talented Frauke Spanuth of Croco Designs, reflects the joy inherent in Nalini’s writing.

Curious about the book?

REBEL HARD

New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh continues her Hard Play series with a sweet, sexy romance featuring big, fat, OTT weddings, a meddling grandma, and a too-serious hero who needs to be unbuttoned…

Nayna Sharma agreed to an arranged marriage in the hope it would heal the fractures in her beloved family… only to realize too late that a traditional marriage is her personal nightmare. Panicked, she throws caution to the winds, puts on the tiniest dress she can find, and ends up in the arms of a tall, rough-edged hunk of a man who has abs of steel–and who she manages to mortally insult between one kiss and the next.

Abandoned as a child, then adopted into a loving family, Raj Sen believes in tradition, in continuity. Some might call him stiff and old-fashioned, but he knows what he wants–and it’s a life defined by rules… yet he can’t stop thinking about the infuriating and sexy woman who kissed him in the moonlight then disappeared. When his parents spring an introduction on him, the last woman he expects is her. Beautiful. Maddening. A rule breaker in the making.

He’s all wrong for her. She’s all wrong for him. And love is about to make rebels of them both.

REBEL HARD releases on September 18th in e-book and print, and October 2nd on audio. Preorder today from your favorite e-tailers: Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, Nook

Visit Nalini’s website for more information about the Hard Play series, her other titles, and to subscribe to her newsletter for freebies and updates.

 

Friday Links: Vacation Reading Roundup

With summer unofficially coming to a close, a vacation reading roundup seems necessary. Maybe you’re taking off for a week before fall hits, or maybe you just wish you were. Either way, it’s time to catch up on the summer books you meant to read but never got around to.

Vacation reading

I still have writing tips for you this week, but there are a lot of book lists. Some even hint at back-to-school and the approach of autumn. And don’t worry if you’re currently coping with winter and dreaming of spring. Plenty of these will appeal to you, too.

So without further ado, I give you this week’s Friday Links. I hope you find some great writing inspiration and some intriguing vacation reading to add to your TBR. Have a fabulous weekend!

This week’s links:

Top 10 Books about Americans Abroad. – For inspiration or armchair traveling.

16 Puerto Rican Women and Non-Binary Writers Telling New Stories. – A great introduction to Puerto Rican literature, particulary for anyone working to diversify their reading.

An Extensive List of Amazing Books by WOC. – Pretty much exactly as stated. Something here for everyone.

The Three Types of Book Cover Design Every Writer Should Know. – A nice reference for anyone sellf-publishing but also for traditional writers trying to figure out what to expect from their cover art.

The Virtues of Shelf-lessness. – Writer Sloane Crosley shares her approach to keeping books in her home.

Click if You Dare: 100 Favorite Horror Stories. – For those of you already planning Halloween costumes. A great list with a broad definition of what horror means, so even readers who shy away from scary books should find something here.

Five Reasons to Keep Track of Every Single Book You Read. – Justification for that diligent list-making. I’m right there with you, and I wish I started younger.

As Barnes & Noble Struggles to Find Footing, Founder Takes Heat. – A look at the state of the bookstore chain and its fight to reinvent itself.

Start Writing Fiction: A Free Online Course Starts 3 September. – Information on an upcoming class from The Open University.

In Search of Doors. – The text of V.E. Schwab’s 2018 J.R.R. Tolkien Lecture on Fantasy Literature, which she presented at Oxford University earlier this year.

Friday Links: Writing Foundations

Every writer’s work develops from their writing foundations, their earliest impressions as young writers and readers. Although new experiences always add to the writer’s perspective, nothing is so formative as those first encounters. This week’s links focus on the usual range of topics, but several include interviews with authors talking about their writing identity and early influences. Consider your own favorite books that inspired you to write, or life events that might affect your writing themes. Sometimes knowing the questions that fascinate you can help you dig more deeply into the story you wish to tell.

As always, I hope this week’s links leave you feeling excited to write. Wishing you a wonderful weekend, with some time to read, write,  and maybe to investigate your own writing foundations. Enjoy!

This week’s links:

On the 13 Words that Made Me a Writer. – Author Sofia Samatar talks about her youthful obsession with fantasy and how it inspired her.

When Your Imposter Syndrome Is Out of Control. – Everyone feels unsure about themselves at some point. A great reading list to help fight self-doubt.

The Crack Squad of Librarians Who Track Down Half-Forgotten Books. – A look at those talented folks who help find that book you can’t quite remember.

Jason Reynolds: “What’s Unusual about My Story Is that I Became a Writer.” – The multi-published author discusses how his early experiences led him to write books that wouldn’t bore his audience.

Writing Wisdom from Guest Author Maureen Goo. – The YA author talks about her approach to writing.

Five Books about Unconventional Pirates. – Because I have a pirate thing, okay? And everyone’s TBR stack should have a pirate book on it.

Reading Horror Can Arm Us Against a Horrifying World. – NPR looks at horror as a way to make sense of reality.

Friday Links: Dog Days Inspiration

August heat calls for some dog days inspiration to get anything accomplished. When the temperatures climb, it’s hard to self-motivate. It can feel like your brain is melting out your ears. So I hope today’s links provide some distraction from the weather, whether you’re roasting along with me, or freezing with my friends in the southern hemisphere.

Dog Days Inspiration: dogs walking on a sunny beach

It’s nose to the grindstone in my neck of the woods, with fingers crossed that my AC keeps working, too. Today through the weekend I’m in reading mode, with two client projects on my desk and a stack of submissions queued up. I’ll have some status updates next week, along with a couple of exciting announcements. Meanwhile, I offer up some great links for you to check out. I hope they help you put your writing caps on and get down to work. Have a great weekend, and happy writing!

Dog Days Inspiration:

How to Keep Plot Twists Fresh. – Author David Bell offers tips on how to keep your thriller surprising. Helpful even if thrillers aren’t your thing.

Dear Suzanne Brockmann.Last week I linked to Suzanne Brockmann’s RWA speech; this letter from author Nicki Saledo offers a heartfelt response and an important personal take on diversity and inclusion in publishing.

Building a SciFi Future that Matters: Five Authors Share their Worldbuilding Strategies. – Really interesting look at different approaches to building a futurescape.

Radical Writing: Was Angela Carter Ahead of Her Time? – Discussion of the late author and the upcoming documentary on her life and innovative work.

“Write a Sentence as Clean as Bone” and Other Advice from James Baldwin. – Writing tips from the late author, who would have been 94 this week.

John Green Wants You to Read Tiny Books. – An explanation of the small book format (Flipbacks) popular abroad that is finally coming to the U.S., in part thanks to author Green. I’m curious to see if these catch on. Think how many more books will fit on your shelves!

Foreshadow, issue zero. – The launch of the new online anthology featuring YA short fiction by both new and established authors. Great reads by a diverse collection of writers.

Friday Links Return: Jump Start Your Vacation Brain

Friday Links Return feels like an appropriate title for my first blog post in a while. These links should help get your writer’s brain working, whether you’re stuck in summer vacation mode or the winter doldrums. Stir things up, jostle some new ideas around, or tackle that project you set aside months ago.

Likewise, I plan to use this post as a segue back to some regular blogging. Both work and life remain busy, but writing always serves as an excellent distraction from larger concerns. Time for me to remember that and get back on schedule. Friday Links Return is by no means a one-shot deal.

Despite the radio silence, I continued to collect interesting tidbits as if I were blogging the past few months. Today you benefit from my hoarding. I discarded things I considered time sensitive, but plenty of the slightly older links remain. I bring you writing advice and publishing culture. Also, I apologize now for what I’m about to do to your TBR piles. So many book recs. I hope you feel inspired on so many levels. Wishing you a wonderful weekend, and happy writing!

Friday Links Return:

10 Fairy Tale Retellings that Are Deeper, Darker, and Sexier than the Originals. – I love a good fairy tale for grownups just as much as the versions from my childhood. Some great ones on this list.

Read It Forward’s Favorite Reads of July 2018. – A wonderful list of great titles released this month.

Most Anticipated: The Great Second-Half 2018 Book Preview. – One of my absolute favorite lists of upcoming releases, this biannual collection from The Millions always leaves me excited about so many new titles on the schedule.

That RWA LTA Speech (News from Suz). – Romance author Suzanne Brockmann received the Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award at this year’s national RWA conference in Denver, and her speech caused quite a stir. It’s an excellent, inspiring read.

How Finland Rebranded Itself as a Literary Country. – Interesting for the literary angle, but also as a lesson in changing up your image.

Our Fiction Addiction: Why Humans Need Stories. – A look into the whys behind our obsession with books, movies, TV series, etc.

On Becoming an American Writer. – Alexander Chee takes an honest and often-difficult look at the realities of being a writer in the U.S., and offers up some advice.

Geniuses Need Not Apply: On Creative Writing Courses. – A brief look at some different approaches to learning how to write, and their potential worth.

How to Write Great Dialogue. – Some quick and dirty tips from editor Kat Brzozowski.

The Novel within the Novel. – A look at some books that have secondary stories nested inside of them. I love this device when it’s done well. Anthony Horowitz’s Magpie Murders is another great example. Intriguing reads, whether or not you intend to give the structure a try in your own project.