Friday Links

Happy Friday, and happy holidays to those of you in the midst of celebrating various things.

We’re in the last few days of the March Madness Challenge. I hope you’ve enjoyed it, and that you manage to sneak some more words in before April rolls around. In the meantime, I have a pretty broad range of links to share, from some industry news to some thoughtful reads and couple just for fun. I find them pretty interesting, and I hope you agree.

Wishing you all a lovely weekend, and good writing time!

The Importance of Endings – On why even a good thing should eventually come to an end.

Amazon to Buy Goodreads – Just what it says.

I’m Comic Sans, Asshole – Just plain funny, as only McSweeney’s can be.

Top Ten Most Prolific Authors on Twitter – If you’re looking to liven up your feed, add a few of these folks.

Curious Cat Walks Over Medieval Manuscript – Inky paw prints on a 15th century manuscript, presumably from a 15th century kitty.

Those Pesky Synopsis Things…

I’ve had several people ask me to blog about how to write a synopsis, but the reality is that it is far too complicated a subject to tackle in a blog post. Normally I do an hour-long presentation on the topic for conferences, but I realize not everyone has the time or resources to attend a conference.

So, when Writer’s Digest asked me if I’d be interested in doing a webinar for them as part of their ongoing series, I jumped at the opportunity to offer an in-depth look at synopsis writing that could be made more widely available. Conquer the Dreaded Synopsis: Construct Your Ultimate Sales Tool will take place on April 25th, 2013, at 1:00pm EDT. No — it’s not free — but it is still far cheaper than attending a writers’ conference. Registration includes attendance to the online session, access to the presentation materials for a year, and a critique of your synopsis (which I hope you will write or revise based on what you learn) following the session.

I look forward to seeing some of you in class!

March Madness for Writers: Circuit #4

This is it! We’re kicking off the final week of March, and with it the last week of the March Madness for Writers Challenge. How are you doing? Have you managed to write every day (or mostly)? Did you tackle any of the Circuit Training exercises?

Whatever you’ve done this month, I’m hoping you surprised yourself. My wish for you is that you came up with an idea that was fresh and exciting, that you broke through a block, that you’ve produced more pages than you expected. I hope you’re coming to the end of March with confidence in your abilities as a writer — not just in your talents and your current skill set, but in your willingness to push past those boundaries and stretch toward your next goal.

This week is your last chance to participate in Circuit Training for Writers, whether or not you’ve tried out any of the exercises in previous weeks. Give the exercises a look and see what appeals. They’re still optional, of course, but I’m hoping you will feel like giving them one final stab before the month is over.

For anyone who missed out on March Madness, I’m sorry that I will not be running another challenge in April. These are not the focus of this blog, just something I like to throw out there occasionally. However, anyone interested in continuing to challenge themselves should consider repeating the rules for March Madness throughout the month of April on their own. These ideas and writing exercises certainly don’t expire on March 31st; I hope you keep up the good work, or push yourself to try something new in coming months. Those of you looking for a more structured challenge should check out Camp NaNoWriMo, which starts April 1st.

Giveaway Winner!

Falling Blind coverThanks to everyone who entered the drawing for a copy of Shannon K. Butcher‘s FALLING BLIND. I’m happy to announce our randomly selected winner is Stacey Callahan Krug! Big congratulations to Stacey. Please watch your inbox for information on how to claim your book.

Everyone else, thanks again for playing along, and be sure to keep an eye out for future giveaways here on the blog. Shannon’s book hits stores on April 2nd.

Friday Links

Another weekend is upon us! I hope you’ve all had a wonderful, productive week, and have some excellent weekend plans lined up… including a bit of writing, of course. Those of you working at the March Madness Challenge, congratulations for making it this far. You’re more than two-thirds through the month and, whatever pace you’ve been keeping, you should have some good things to show for your efforts. If you feel like you’ve been slacking a bit, well, don’t worry. There’s still more than a week left in March for you to wrack up those words. Just put your time in each day.

But I know you’re all here for links! I’ve got a nice selection this week, and I hope they inspire you to great things. Happy writing, everyone!

Michael Chabon at Town Hall – The author spoke about writing his first novel as part of a celebration for The New York Review of Books‘ anniversary last month.

I Pity the Fool – A great discussion about diversity in SFF at Elizabeth Bear’s blog, featuring a wonderful list of suggested reading both in the post and in comments.

Pro Series: Writing Your First Book – A lovely look at one writer’s experience of writing her first book, by blogger Tara Austen Weaver.

15 Movies Starring Bookstores – If you’re looking for a DVD to rent this weekend…



Book Giveaway!

Falling Blind coverIt’s time to giveaway another wonderful book. I’m happy to announce that Shannon K. Butcher‘s next title in the Sentinel Wars series, FALLING BLIND, will be released on April 2nd. However, I’m giving away a shiny new copy of the book here on the blog! Just leave a comment here on the thread by Monday, March 25th at 12:00 noon PDT to enter the drawing. I’ll pick a random winner at that time.

They are the Sentinels. Three races descended from ancient guardians of mankind, each possessing unique abilities in their battle to protect humanity against their eternal foes: the Synestryn. Now a warrior must protect a strong-minded woman from an incredible evil….

A beautiful, independent Theronai, Rory Rainey knows that her attempts to be a warrior are futile — unless she can stop the demonic visions that torment her. Determined to be free, Rory sets out to find the mysterious guardian who can cure her, before she loses her sight — or her life. But Rory’s journey brings its own dangers when she is attacked by a pack of Synestryn sent by the demon lord Raygh.

Cornered and desperate, Rory narrowly escapes with the help of a sword-wielding stranger. Cain knows that Rory needs his protection to survive, just as he knows that her power is compatible with his own. And when Rory binds herself to Cain, the warrior knows he will do anything to keep her safe from the threat of the demon lord who pursues her.


False Starts and Late Beginnings

Many writers start out on a new project, write for a while, and then look back at what they have and realize they started far too early in the story — that whatever point they are currently writing is, in fact, the beginning, while the chapter or so they’ve already completed (or five pages, or sometimes fifty pages) was just them getting into the swing of the characters/world etc. It serves as interesting backstory for their own edification, but doesn’t really work as a way to draw in readers. This phenomenon occurs with even the most savvy, published author; sometimes you just need to write yourself toward where you need to be.

Those of you who started a new project recently might be facing this issue about now, especially if you’re writing diligently every day and accumulating pages at a steady rate. So I thought I’d offer you some expert advice on all that beginning stuff — balancing character and story, planning where you want to go, and so on. Because if you find yourself kicking out some of your early pages, you might want to take a moment to reassess your overall plan for the project.

Fantasy author Patrick Rothfuss runs a series of storyboard panels on YouTube’s Geek & Sundry channel, and he got together with fellow author Mary Robinette Kowal earlier this year to talk about beginnings. I defer to their interesting and entertaining advice: Begin at the Beginning.

March Madness for Writers: Circuit #3

Welcome to the third full week of March! This means we’re slightly more than halfway through the month, and also ready to kick off another week of circuit training. How have you been doing so far, writers? Is the challenge making you sweat a bit? Are you managing to get some writing time in each day? Maybe mastering a new skill or two along the way?

For those of you participating in the circuit training portion of the challenge, today is the first day of a brand new week, which means it’s time to trade in last week’s exercise for something new. Of course, if you’re on a roll with whatever you’re doing and want to continue, please feel free. You can also take a week off from circuit training if you’re feeling a bit burnt out or just have a busy schedule ahead. The goal is simply to write each and every day; everything else is a bonus.

Whatever you decide to work on this week, I want to encourage you to take a look at your list of prompts from earlier this month and see if you need to replenish them. If you’ve been working on new story starts or short pieces at all this month, the chances are good that you’ve used at least a handful of your prompts already. Don’t forget to jot down new ideas as they come to you, or to spend an hour or two day dreaming to purposefully generate some new prompts. That way you’ll always have a good assortment to choose from when you have the itch to write something different.

Wishing you a wonderfully productive writing week. Now get to it!

Friday Links

Happy Friday, everyone! This week has galloped by, and I’m looking at a hugely busy weekend (yes, work), so I’m pretty much going to drop off some links and go. It’s a bit of an eclectic list this week, so I hope you find them entertaining. Now go read something wonderful. And don’t forget to write! Have a great weekend.

Listen to Benedict Cumberbatch Sing in Neverwhere – A snippet from the BBC4 radio audio production of Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere, with Cumberbatch as the angel Islington.

Nora Ephron’s Final Act – A poignant look at one excellent writer’s exit.

Reader, You Married Him: Male Writers, Female Writers, and the Marriage Plot – An interesting look at who is writing novels, what they’re writing, and who their audiences are.

Book Returned 69 Years Late to Estonia Library – Just amusing.

The Morning News Tournament of Books – A March Madness of reading, held annually. See how some of this year’s big reads have fared when pitted against each other.