The Return of Friday Links

Happy Friday, everyone! I’ve been back from New Zealand for a few days, but reentry was a bit bumpy — missing luggage, loads of work waiting for me, confusion regarding time and day — so blogging hasn’t been high on my priority list. But Friday Links seemed like a great way to get back to it, so here I am.

This week’s list of links is a combination of my usual books/writing/inspirational type sites and a smattering of fun New Zealand links that I felt the need to share. It was a terrific trip — more on that later — and I had a wonderful time at the RWNZ conference, as well. Thanks to all the lovely ladies there, who made my trip so much fun and who shared their stories with me, written or otherwise.

So, without further ado, I give you this week’s links. Wishing you all a lovely weekend, and — here in the U.S. — a great Labor Day holiday. Enjoy!

China Mieville: The Future of the Novel – From his speech at this year’s Edinburgh World Writers’ Conference.

First Read: Michael Chabon’s ‘Telegraph Avenue’ – A peek at the opening pages.

Just Write – A look at photographs of people writing all over the world, courtesy of Steve McCurry’s blog.

Is My Book Too Quiet? – A few thoughts on what this means from literary agent Carly Watters.

8 Ways Reading Makes You a Better Dater – Just for fun.

And from New Zealand…

Auckland Museum – I spent an entire morning here, and particularly loved the photography exhibition.

Waitomo Caves – They take you through the dark caves by boat so you can see the glow worms that coat the ceilings. Spooky and beautiful.

Hobbiton Tours – The farm where they shot the Hobbiton scenes, both for The Lord of the Rings films and the upcoming Hobbit films.

Whakarewarewa: The Living Thermal Village – In Rotorua, New Zealand. This village sits on a geo thermal site where the hot steam seeps up through cracks in the earth and heats their bath water and homes, and cooks their food. Fascinating way of life.


Mini Hiatus

I’m off to New Zealand this evening. First there will be vacationing (and playtime with Nalini Singh), and then there will be the Romance Writers of New Zealand conference.

Chances are good that I won’t have much time to blog while I’m gone, so apologies now if I disappear for the duration. Regardless, I return on the 27th, and so should have some tales of travel for you soon after.

Be good while I’m gone! Don’t break the internet! And go write something wonderful…

Reading on the Road

I’m traveling for both business and pleasure starting tomorrow, so I’ve started thinking about what to read while I’m gone. There will be some work-related projects, of course, but I have a few long plane rides and a full week that’s technically vacation time, so I’m excited to dig into books that will remind me why I love to read.

Anyone who reads a lot for work can tell you that there’s a certain giddiness associated with reading for pleasure. I love books of all sorts, but there’s something elicit about stealing time to read just for me these days. I liken it to reading “naughty books” as a child, things you might not necessarily want your parents to catch you with, even if they never forbade you from reading them. Books addressing subjects that were a little too sexy, too violent, too mature… Reading for work is a pleasure as well, but it’s still work, and you maintain a critical focus from first page to last. And for agents, there are plenty of stories that fail on some level, that make you wonder, if only for an instant, why you like to read at all.

Choosing my vacation reading is the biggest challenge. I can pack my suitcase and my computer and my camera, no problem, but I will linger over my bookshelves trying to figure out what to take. Having a Kindle makes things a little easier, since there are always plenty of choices packed into its compact space, but I am, at heart, a paper book kind of girl. Besides which, you need something to read during take off and landing, when electronic devices are powered down.

I blame my indecision when the clock is ticking on my lack of free-reading time. The choice feels weighty, important. I want to take the right books with me, the books that will complement my travels without distracting from them. Books I can lose myself in completely, as is appropriate on vacation. And I worry about taking the wrong ones. Books that might be perfectly wonderful when read under the covers at home on a chilly Sunday afternoon but that will fail to hold up to the spirit of adventure inherent in a long journey.

The temptation to reread sets in a few hours before I have to leave. I’ll linger in front of favorite volumes, thinking how much simpler it would be to just take a few of them, knowing they’ll be perfect for the trip. Old friends tagging along as you discover new places. But again, there’s that time shortage thing rearing its head, reminding me that I should read something new, that I should take advantage of the time away to discover a new favorite instead.

Eventually I’ll decide. I’ll grab two or three books and shove them in reserved spots in my tote bag and my suitcase. Will they be the right choices? Only time can tell.

How do you decide on your vacation reading? Are there any books you’ve read on vacation recently that you loved? Any you’re looking forward to?

Links for Friday

Greetings from my hot-and-sticky neck of the woods. My brain is a bit sluggish today, courtesy of the triple digit heat we’ve been enjoying since about Tuesday, combined with my AC deciding to give up the ghost on Wednesday. As you might guess, my laptop and I have been spending afternoons in coffee shops when at all possible.

None of which has anything at all to do with the Friday links, of course. But I do have a few for you, so I hope you check them out. Have a fabulous weekend, and I wish you comfortable temperatures wherever you may be. Happy writing!

25 Ways to Survive as a Creative Person – Some excellent tips.

We Are Many, We Are Everywhere – Roxane Gay’s terrific look at writers of color, along with an ever-growing reference list.

35 Modern Words Recently Added to the Dictionary – I take exception with a few of these, but there you have it. Amusing, at the very least.

He Hit Send: On the Awkward but Necessary Role of Technology in Fiction – How tech has changed some of the biggest tropes in fiction, and more.

Happy New Release Day!

Looking for something new to read? Check out Shannon K. Butcher’s exciting, stand-alone eSpecial, available today: FORGET ME NOT.

It’s a race against time for two lovers—star-crossed and desperate—in Shannon K. Butcher’s astonishing new romance of electrifying danger and desire…. 

The last thing Adria expects to find when she arrives at her vacation rental is a man in her front yard—unconscious and stark-naked. But something else sets him apart from most strangers. He is no ordinary man. Toren is new to Earth, framed for a crime he didn’t commit, and banished to this planet to serve his sentence. He’s desperate to return to his planet, because the magic that is part of him will soon disappear and, along with it, all of his memories. Adria is his only hope to help make his escape for home—and as fate would have it, his reason to stay. 

Another ARC Giveaway!

ETA: GIVEAWAY CLOSED! Scroll down for winners.

Even the best of Mondays could use a little help, so I’m giving today a boost by announcing a new giveaway…

ARCHANGEL’S STORM by Nalini Singh, the next installment in her Guild Hunter series, hits stores on September 4th, but you have the chance to win an ARC (advanced reader copy) early.

Enter New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh’s darkly beautiful world of archangels and immortal power, as a pact is sealed between two souls bound by blood, stirred by desire, and driven by vengeance…

With wings of midnight and an affinity for shadows, Jason courts darkness. But now, with the Archangel Neha’s consort lying murdered in the jewel-studded palace that was his prison and her rage threatening cataclysmic devastation, Jason steps into the light, knowing he must unearth the murderer before it is too late.
Earning Neha’s trust comes at a price–Jason must tie himself to her bloodline through the Princess Mahiya, a woman with secrets so dangerous, she trusts no one. Least of all an enemy spymaster.
With only their relentless hunt for a violent, intelligent killer to unite them, Jason and Mahiya embark on a quest that leads to a centuries-old nightmare… and to the dark storm of an unexpected passion that threatens to drench them both in blood.

In order to enter the drawing, just leave a comment here on the thread by Thursday, August 9, 2012, at 5pm Pacific Time. I’ll come back then and announce the names of the random winners. Yes, that’s winners, plural, because I have THREE ARCs to award. So spread the word and comment here!

ETA: Thanks to everyone for participating! We had more than 600 people enter the drawing, which is just amazing. I’m sorry I only have three ARCs to give away. The winners, drawn randomly using, are Michelle Miller, Bridget Clark, and Lisa Annesley. Congratulations! Please keep an eye on your inboxes for information on how to collect your ARCs.

Friday Links

This week flew by, sort of like the year in general. How exactly did it get to be August already? Yikes.

Today’s links lean more toward the academic and writing tips than humor. I think my subconscious already has its eye on fall. I blame the back-to-school ads. But there are some interesting and informative sites here, so I hope you find inspiration. Wishing you all a lovely weekend. Happy writing!

13 Writing Tips – from Chuck Palahniuk.

A Room of My Own in the Middle of Everything – Part of the “Where I Write” series at The Rumpus.

12 Great Free Online Courses – For those of you looking for grist for the mill.

This is how you build a labyrinth out of 250,000 books – Fun video, but I wish they’d added music.

The Typewriter – A kickstarter-like opportunity to back a book about the graphic history of typewriters, for the typewriter fans in the crowd.

Traditional Publication vs. Going It Alone

Last week’s RWA conference was a wonderful event, featuring workshops, panels, parties, pitches, meetings and more. There were writers at every stage of their career, from newbies working on their first novel to multi-published pros who have been in the business for decades. There were editors from the major New York publishing houses, as well as from small presses and electronic publishers. And most everyone was weighed down by this year’s red-and-white conference tote bag, loaded with books they had acquired at the literacy signing, in the goody room, from publisher giveaways, or at the conference bookstore. That’s right. Books. Actual paper books.

Yet the most common questions I received during the conference focused on digital publishing, and most specifically the rise in self-publication in that format. I had authors ask if I thought traditional publishing was on the way out, whether I feared for my career, and why anyone should bother following the standard route to publication. And I kept turning around in circles, looking at all the books piling up around me, most from major New York publishing houses, and wondered if I was the only one who saw the disconnect.

Digital publishing is here to stay. So is self-publishing. They are both viable aspects of the marketplace. However, the existence of e-books does not negate the importance or appeal of the more physical format. Plenty of people still want hard copies of their books. They love filling their bookcases with beautifully bound volumes, enjoy having matched sets of their favorite series, and want something they can read on an airplane while taking off or landing. After a day at the beach, it’s far easier to dust sand out of your paperback than out of your e-reader, and few people are brave enough to carry their Kindle into a bubble bath. E-books are portable, environmentally friendly, space savers, and a great way to try out new authors at lower price points. And for some readers, they are sufficient. But for others, they are merely an additional way to enjoy their preferred reading material, not a replacement.

Self-publication, likewise, is a positive addition to the publishing marketplace, but it is by no means poised to eliminate publishers as we know them. Not all writers wish to self-publish. Not all writers want to invest the time and energy self-publishing requires above and beyond the act of writing the book.

Imagine, if you will, that there are no more physical bookstores. That all the traditional publishers have vanished. You, as a writer, have self-published your book, in digital format, because that is now the only format. How do readers find you? How do they sort through the thousands of other writers who are also producing new digital books every day? It’s fine if you manage to hit the list of top-selling books on any given e-retailer’s site, or if you find a way to get a promotional slot on the front page, but what if you don’t? How does an unknown writer make themselves known in an entirely digital, self-published arena?

There are ways to break out of obscurity, of course. Writers have done it. They develop blogs of their own, with witty posts and high traffic, and visit the blogs of other writers and book reviewers. They host contests and drawings. They haunt social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter and put considerable thought into their marketing campaigns long before they release their books. But as the field grows more crowded, it will become harder and harder to get noticed.

Many of the most successful self-published authors are authors who started in traditional publishing, and who already have a ready-made audience. They are self-publishing backlist that has gone out of print, or writing new material to self-publish in addition to their traditionally published works. They frequently do so with the assistance of their agents or another entity in order to have a partner in the process, someone to arrange for formatting and cover art and to help with promotion. And a number of debut authors who gained a measure of fame and success in the self-publishing arena have signed on with agents and major publishing houses in order to take the burden of marketing partially off their shoulders. They would rather devote the bulk of their time to writing their books.

Publishing as an industry is going to continue to change and shift and morph, but at the end of the day, I believe we will settle on a system that offers writers a combination of formats and venues for getting their work in front of readers. Some authors will choose to work entirely with major publishers and some will self-publish, but the majority, I suspect, will fall somewhere in the middle, making the most of all their opportunities. And as always, success in publishing will come down to a combination of hard work, talent, timing, and luck.