Friday Links

Happy Friday! Today is the first Friday after the Memorial Day weekend, which in publishing ushers in the phenomenon of summer Fridays — those short work days that kick off the weekend early all summer long so that publishing folks can get the heck out of dodge and enjoy a few days at the beach, or wherever. Of course, for those of us on the west coast, that means a summer of remembering to get hold of editors early in the week because by the time we’re awake and working Friday morning, everyone in New York has one foot out the door.

Summer Fridays make me think of summer reading. My plan for the next few weeks, however, involves plowing through my inbox backlog and reading submissions rather than anything specific off my to-read pile or one of those infamous lists of beach reads. But that doesn’t mean I can’t point you all toward some fun summer reading material, as well as inspire you to get some summer writing done. Don’t get lured away from your desk by those longer days and lovely weather; put your time in and get your words down before you go play!

That said, I offer you this week’s links, and wish you a wonderful weekend. Enjoy!

Book Clubs Mean Business – An interesting look at the role of book clubs in today’s publishing market, and also a peek inside some really fun book-club activities.

Definitive Manifesto for Handling Haters – Anne Lamott looks at the dangers of perfectionism and putting other people’s opinions and needs ahead of our own.

How the Amazon-Hachette Fight Could Shape the Future of Ideas – Thoughts on the long-term, big picture effects of this latest publishing feud.

The Great 2014 Short Fiction Round-Up – Recommendations for some great new collections of short stories.

Adventure Reading 101 – An introduction to some exciting books/authors focused on adventure and travel writing, for those of you looking for an armchair vacation.

RIP, Maya Angelou

Author Maya Angelou has passed away at the age of 86. On any given day, the newsfeed on my Facebook page will see a few repeat stories as friends of mine share each other’s posts or find the same things interesting, but today… today it is a flood of stories about Angelou’s death. Not many authors touch so many lives, or live such a colorful life themselves.

If you’re having a hard time with your writing, if life is getting in the way, if your priorities are at war, if daily existence drags along… pick up one of Maya Angelou’s books. Spend a few minutes reading her obituaries. Watch an interview or two. She inspires by example, and shares her thoughts and wisdom with great generosity. She will be missed.

Friday Links

We’re kicking off a long, holiday weekend here in the U.S., as Monday is Memorial Day, but whether you’re plotting a getaway, some local BBQ action, or simply kicking back with a cool drink and a good read, I wish you a very wonderful few days. Those of you not anticipating an extra day off, use that weekend wisely and have a great time.

With that said, I offer up this week’s collection of links to keep you informed, entertained, and maybe even inspired. Despite the pending holiday, it’s been a newsy sort of week. One of the biggest stories going around is the dispute between and Hachette Publishing, that has led Amazon (who has been delaying delivery of Hachette titles) to pull the order buttons entirely from the publisher’s books, sending authors who were already frustrated into an uproar. So, in the spirit of supporting the little guy (by whom I mean the authors, not the corporations duking it out), I encourage you to take your book-buying to your favorite independent bookseller in lieu of giving your business to Amazon. And if you must order online, check out

Enjoy the links, and have a great weekend!

Amazon Ramps Up War Against Hachette – A little more information about the above referenced situation.

30 Diverse YA Titles to Get On Your Radar – Some really great sounding books, either out now or set to publish in the coming months.

Steamy Romance Novels Flushed with Color – On the rise of interracial relationships in romance novels.

Discovering Literature: Romantics and Victorians – The British Library has made a collection of Victorian and Romantic era writings and research materials, including notes from experts and documentaries, available online.

Summer Reading: 20 New Nonfiction Books that Will Make You Smarter – Really diverse list of titles with some fascinating sounding subjects.

First Novels: The Weird, Thrilling Trip through a Very Narrow Door – On the odds of getting a first novel published and all the reasons you should try anyway.

Nature vs. Nurture: Are Readers Born or Made?

Young Lady Reading by Mary Cassatt
Young Lady Reading by Mary Cassatt

On more than one occasion during my childhood, my mother came into my room to find me sitting on the floor, back propped against the side of my bed, knees bent, nose in a book. She’d mumble something in my direction — generally about it being a gorgeous day out, or the dishwasher needing to be emptied, or asking what I’d done at school that day — and I’m hum back and continue reading. If it was the dishwasher thing, she’d usually press the issue, but otherwise, she’d sigh and shake her head and leave, wondering aloud where precisely I’d come from.

This is not to say my parents weren’t readers. They were. They read the New York Times every day, and in a very leisurely fashion on Sunday mornings; there was a small bookcase in our family room that held a few dozen books of various sorts, including a volume of Shakespeare and some classics, some mysteries and modern bestsellers; my mom picked up books from the library periodically, whatever was newish or the occasional romance, and both of my parents would take paperbacks for plane reading when they travelled. But there was nothing obsessive in their reading habits, no getting lost for hours or days on end because a book had them in its grips. To be fair, looking back, this was in part because they were adults with responsibilities, and unlikely to slough off chores like feeding me and my brother or going to work just to read one more chapter. It didn’t seem to bother them, however, that their reading time was limited, or when real life dragged them out of the pages of a book.

I, on the other hand, read voraciously, and quite often to the detriment of other responsibilities. Math homework paled in importance when I was close to finishing a book. And things got ugly on the occasions I finished a read only to discover I was out of new reading material; I got very twitchy over this situation one particular Sunday, when both my local library and the closest bookstore were closed, and no one was home to drive me farther afield in search something new to read. I was an addict.

Even if my parents weren’t devoted readers on the scale that I was, I can definitely credit them with exposing me to books. My mother took me to the library all the time, and read to me even once I’d learned to read to myself. She signed me up for summer reading programs, and always bought me books at the annual school book fair. But she didn’t place any undue emphasis on reading over other pastimes; she also took me to ballet class and girl scouts and bought me math workbooks to practice my basic arithmetic. Nothing stuck quite the same way that reading did, and it’s not an addiction I’ve outgrown, though I’m better about doing my chores these days.

There’s nothing particularly scientific about looking back at my own personal experiences to determine whether readers or born or made. My brother, raised in the same household and with the additional exposure to a book-loving sister, never adopted the habit the way I have. He was athletic, and no one needed to pry him out of his room and into the sunshine. This suggests that there’s something inborn about loving to read, a personality trait that makes it more appealing. But I also firmly believe that it’s important to introduce kids to books when they’re young, because reading is a skill that develops over a lifetime, and children gain so much from exposure to different types of books. Perhaps the most devoted readers are a little bit of both: nature and nurture.

I’m curious about other readers’ experiences. Did you fall in love with reading as a kid? Come to it later? Has your love for books remained constant, or waxed and waned?

Friday Links

Greetings from sizzling Southern California. We’re having a bit of a heat wave here — ranging from 95 to 100+ degrees all week. I generally prefer hot weather to cold, but this is just a bit early in the season for my taste. I like some in-between temperatures to help me acclimate.

The good news, however, is that it’s Friday! And you all know what Friday means… I’ve got a kind of eclectic collection of links this week, but I hope you find them entertaining. Wishing you all a wonderful weekend filled with books and good writing time and a nice cool breeze.

10 Words Every Book Lover Should Know – What it says on the tin.

“We’re All Mad Here”: Lessons from Alice – The author recalls her first encounter with Alice in Wonderland, and the effect the book had on her.

Philip Roth May Have Given His Last Public Talk – On the author’s recent acceptance of an award from Yaddo.

The Gospel According to… Helen Schucman, Not Jesus Christ – Who holds the copyright on a book dictated through “waking” dreams? Interesting story.

15 of Our Favorite Books about Libraries and Librarians – Fun list of titles.

Friday Links

Somehow we have landed on Friday again. But the good thing about a quick week is that now we are on the cusp of the weekend! What sort of wonderful things have you got cooked up? A nice brunch with Mom for Mother’s Day? A quiet couple of hours with a good book? Some quality time with your work-in-progress?

Whatever you’ve got on the agenda, I hope you find a few minutes to check out this week’s links. I think there’s a little something for everyone. Enjoy, and happy writing!

10 Great Authors Who Disowned Their Books – Even published writers can regret a project for one reason or another.

May Books: A Reading List for the Month of Love – Looking for some reads that match the feel of the month? Here are a few suggestions.

What Happened to the Harlequin Romance? – A look at the publisher in the wake of the news that it has been purchased by HarperCollins.

Putin’s Ban: Let’s Hear it for Swearing – The Russian president is attempting to ban swearing from plays, books, and movies.

We Need Diverse Books and We Also Need People to Read Them – A really thoughtful blog post on the need for diverse books and also why they’re all audiences.

15 Sweet Kid-Lit Inspired Cakes – These are gorgeous, both for kids and for adult readers who’ve never quite forgotten those early reading years.

Wired for Story

Why are books important? Why should we continue reading once we’ve finished school? What is it about a good movie that resonates with us long after we leave the theater? Why do we need diverse, inclusive media that looks at different lives and different points of view?

As book lovers and/or film buffs, we might simply say we love to read, we love to go to the movies. Maybe we enjoy the thrill of living vicariously through someone else’s story, or perhaps we appreciate the escape from our own daily grind. If we’re feeling a little bit more analytical, we might add that reading expands the mind, or that film can be art, or any other number of reasons, all of which are good and true.

But what about the how of things? How do books and films — story in general — affect us in these profound ways? What is it about a good story that becomes a part of us? Lisa Cron explains in her TEDx Talk, Wired for Story. Whether you consider yourself a devoted reader, a film aficionado, a writer, or combination, or just a human being going through life, this is a fascinating look at how we learn and absorb and form our impressions of the world, and how story is inextricably twined with our approach to life.

Friday Links

Happy Friday! I am coming to you through the magic of scheduled posting, since at this moment (assuming you read this by Sunday morning) I am in Boise for a writers’ conference. Scheduled posting is one of the best internet inventions ever.

That said, I have a great collection of links this week, so I hope you all find something to entertain and inspire you. Also, I’d like to suggest that now is a great time to take a look at your goals for May. Yes, we are a couple of days in already, but that’s no excuse to avoid the subject. No time like the present. So what writing tasks have you set for yourself? Have you been working on anything that you started in April that you’d like to keep up this month? Or maybe you need to retrench a bit. Give it a little thought this weekend in between whatever else is on your schedule. Happy weekend, and enjoy!

Talking with the Publishers of New LA-based Unnamed Press – Because it’s always great to hear about people joining the publishing party.

How I Tackle a Big Writing Project – Feeling overwhelmed? Here are some great tips from Leo Babauta.

50 Signs You’re Addicted to Reading – Chances are you already know you are, but this list is still fun.

The Lost Art of Memorizing Poetry – Because Poetry Month is never truly over.

Ditching Dickensian – What does the term mean, and is it overused?