Friday Links

We’ve reached the stage of a very hot week where the temperature doesn’t quite drop to a reasonable point during the night — it was 81 degrees already when I got up at 6:30 — and my air conditioner struggles to keep up with the extreme heat. It’s very tempting to camp out at the movie theater all day. Instead, I’m going to get some work done at home this morning, and then transplant myself to the public library and enjoy their AC and free wifi until they kick me out for the holiday weekend. At which point I may or may not seriously reconsider my weekend line up of activities, many of which take place outdoors. *pout*

But enough of my heat-induced whining. I bring you Friday Links! Also, don’t forget to stop by Wednesday’s blog post and let me know if there’s anything you’d like me to talk about in coming weeks. I’ve already got a few lovely suggestions, but I’m happy to take more. Wishing you all a lovely Labor Day weekend here in the US, and a lovely regular weekend if you’re in some other part of the world.

Why Teach English? – An interesting look in the decline in English (and Humanities) majors in recent years.

The Duke Professor Who Secretly Wrote Romance Novels – A fun NPR interview with professor/romance author Katharine Ashe.

On the Pleasures and Solitudes of Quiet Books – Not all books need a big, noisy hook.

Three Signs You’re Not Writing Enough – Amusing and accurate.

What Scholastic Reading Club Flyer Do You Remember? – I have such fond memories of getting these little catalogs in elementary school, and I still own a number of the books I bought through them.

End-of-Summer Push

It’s probably going to be a bit quiet around here for the next week or two, not because I’ve planned a fabulous end-of-summer vacation, but because I’m going to ground to get through an enormous pile of work reading so I can reopen to submissions soon. Friday Links will be up per usual, but otherwise I’m going to be keeping my head down for the most part.

However, I do have a question for all of you. Once fall hits, I’d like to get back to some more serious, content-driven blog posts. Call it the back-to-school syndrome; all those years of academic training have me twitching for books and school supplies and essay writing come September. And while I have a few things planned, I’d love to know what you’d all like to hear more about here on the blog. I’m not looking for questions, precisely — this isn’t a Q&A sort of situation — but subjects that interest you.

Do you want more posts on submissions? On marketing? On what an agent does? Let me know in the comments section below what has you curious, and I’ll use them as a jumping off point for some of my upcoming blog entries.

Friday Links

Happy Friday, everyone! We’re winding down toward summer’s end so I hope you all have terrific plans for your weekend (or something warm and cozy for you southern hemisphere folks). This week’s links are sort of a mishmash of things, but I hope you find them interesting and entertaining and perhaps a bit inspirational. Enjoy!

For Those About to Write, We Salute You – Part of Ploughshares’ ongoing series of writing exercises, this one focused on writing about sex.

Skylight Addicts and Private Wonderlands: On the Garret Novel – As a child I dreamed of eating apples, reading books, and writing stories in an attic room like Jo March. (Our house didn’t have an attic.)

Hilary Mantel’s 10 Rules for Writing Fiction – Part of the ongoing series, with some excellent advice.

Bookshelfies – A Tumblr devoted to self-portraits with books.

Elmore Leonard On Writing

Author Elmore Leonard passed away earlier this week. I’m not a huge reader of mystery/thriller/suspense-type novels, but even I have picked up a couple of Leonard’s titles in my day. He was a prolific writer and a master craftsman, and most of all, he made it look so very easy. Of course, it wasn’t.

Here’s a short video/interview with Leonard from 2006. The quality isn’t too terrific, but the audio comes through just fine, and that’s the part you really want anyway. Enjoy.

More Than Sorta Social

BreatkfastClubCastJohn Hughes’s iconic 1985 teen-angst film The Breakfast Club follows five very different high school students over the course of a day-long Saturday detention, during which time the audience gets a run down of their home and school lives and finds out what led to their spending part of their weekend confined, at least in theory, to the school library. At one point, they discuss their extracurricular activities, and Anthony Michael Hall’s geeky character volunteers that he’s a member of the math and physics clubs where they get together and discuss properties of math and physics. Molly Ringwald’s character is quick to point out those are “academic clubs,” therefore quite different from the groups she and her friends would join, but Jud Nelson’s character declares them to be “…sorta social. Demented and sad, but social.”

The world of social media is, in some respects, far more egalitarian than your average high school. Blogger, Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook… you can join any or all of them. But just because you’re invited to all the parties, doesn’t make them all the same. And when it comes time to market yourself and your writing, only you can determine which parties will serve you best, and where your time is most wisely spent. Not all writers are comfortable with all formats; one person might find 140 characters far too few to get a thought across, while another balks at blogging twice a week. So how do you make the most of the social media platforms?

Master one or two forms of social media at a time – Don’t rush in and try to juggle every available social media format at once. Pick a couple and get started. Learn how they work, how you can make them work for you, and be consistent in your usage and participation. If you allow comments on your blog, respond to them; start up conversations with people on Twitter; determine if you have sufficient visual content to keep your Tumblr page fresh and interesting. And don’t forget to leave some time for real life in addition to your online social life.

Get a head start – Hitting the social media scene the week your book comes out is like arriving at a new school in May and expecting to be voted prom queen. It takes time to build real social connections. No one likes a spammer, so don’t expect to show up and start talking up your book and win any popularity contests. Social media is social. You need to join in and chat with folks, share ideas and discoveries and respond to what others have to say. Make friends and network months in advance of a book release. Then when your book comes out, you can share your enthusiasm without sending everyone running away.

All things in moderation – Even your friends will get sick of you if all you do is talk about yourself. Keep the self-promotion to a minimum, especially on Twitter, where it’s tempting to retweet every great comment and review that crosses your path. Try to keep your book-promo down to under 20% of your social media interactions, and closer to 10% on Twitter. (Places like your website and blog will naturally have a much higher ratio, but these are less social and more your home on the web; visitors will expect to see book covers and links-to-buy all over the walls of your virtual living room.)

Customize your content – You wouldn’t expect the same experience at the jock’s keg party as you would at the party thrown by the brainy geek, so don’t try forcing the same information into all your social media outlets. Avoid automatic distribution features that have your exact same blog post appearing on your website, Facebook page, Goodreads page, etc. Rotate where you debut your information and expect audience overlap between your media sites. Post images where they will show to their best advantage, such as a blog or Tumblr, and avoid posting them places where they get lost in the shuffle, like Twitter.

Be consistent – Don’t join the social media bandwagon just to vanish for months at a time. If you’re going to be traveling, make a point of scheduling some blog posts and Tweets to post while you’re away, and try to check in for some real-time responses and activity even during your trip. If you know you’ll never manage to blog every week, stick to a more traditional author website, and update with other sorts of information to keep it fresh, such as release dates, cover reveals, signing or conference information, contests, giveaways, sneak peeks, etc. The only way to build an audience is to keep showing up.

Friday Links

Drive-by links this week, as I’m trying to get some stuff finished up before the weekend officially starts, and it’s going to be a close call. However, I’ve got some great sites to share, so I hope that makes up for any lack of chattiness on my end. Wishing you all a wonderful weekend and some terrific writing time!

World-building with Lucienne – For anyone who missed it, my fellow agent Lucienne Diver is doing a multi-part world-building workshop on her blog. Parts two and three are also up.

The Moment When Science Fiction Split Off from Competence Porn – A look at how sf characters have changed in film and TV; interesting analysis of trends.

Edwidge Danticat: By the Book – Brief New York Times interview with the author.

Silent City: Serial Story – A serialized online story with illustrations, mixing fantasy, romance, horror, and some great steampunk-esque flavor.

In Search of Shakespeare’s Dark Lady – A look at the identity of the Bard’s mystery woman.

Friday Links

Another Friday. I’m honestly not sure where the week went. But I do have a good collection of links to distract you today and through the weekend. A few in particular I’m hoping will inspire you to get some writing time in between your chores and barbecues and other weekend-ish activities. Enjoy, and happy writing!

Will Social Media Kill Writers’ Diaries? – An interesting question regarding the way tech has changed the writer’s habit of journaling and sending letters.

Mass-Market Marathon – This series at Slate follows one reader as he attempts to plow through a stack (23) of mass-market paperbacks during his week-long beach vacation. I’ll admit to envying him time for his experiment.

30 Indispensable Tips from Famous Authors – A fun collection with some excellent advice, as well as proof that sometimes it’s necessary to do what works for you.

Stephen King’s Family Business – A look at how many writers you can squeeze into one family.

Disneyland’s Steampunk Land that Almost Was – For you steampunk fans, a look back at plans for a Steampunk portion of Disneyland that never got off the ground. Includes great pictures of the original plans, etc.

Because some things cannot wait…

I realize it’s not Friday, not link day, but every once in a while you read something that must be shared immediately. Not tomorrow or whenever there’s a free spot in the link list, but now.

So, for all you writers out there, striving and putting in your time and feeling discouraged, wondering why no one gets it, I bring you Writing. It’s Hard. Because you’re not alone.