Friday Links: Trick-R-Treat Edition

Cat on Halloween

Happy Halloween! What a great way to kick off the weekend, with costumes and candy and maybe a scary book or movie. Do you have plans? Or are you hunkered down, watching the clock, waiting for midnight to strike so you can start on your NaNoWriMo project?

Whatever your intentions for the weekend, here are a few fun links to keep you distracted. I hope you find them entertaining and inspiring. Happy writing!

Bad Writing Advice Explained – Author Mary Robinette Kowal gives her take on some of the more contentious writing advice writers often hear.

William Gibson Riffs on Writing and the Future – The master sf author shares a few thoughts.

Information Doesn’t Want to Be Free – Cory Doctorow’s keynote speech from the Surrey International Writer’s Conference this past weekend.

Digging Ditches or Casting Spells:On Magic in Writing – Chuck Wendig’s keynote speech from the Surrey International Writer’s Conference this past weekend.

How to Assemble an Ensemble: Team-Building for Writers – How to create an ensemble cast for your WIP.

A NaNoWriMo Checklist

You’ve decided to take the plunge and participate in NaNoWriMo. You’ve done some prep work and created a few characters, come up with a setting, and done a bit of background research on cool careers or other things you might include in your book. Now what?

November 1st looms, so now is the time to take care of a few last minute things and get ready to start typing. Here’s a quick to-do list, both for these final days leading up to your novel-writing marathon, and to keep in mind as the month progresses.

Stock your kitchen and your bathroom. Make sure your fridge, freezer, and pantry are filled with healthy, easy-to-prepare foods. Yes, it’s important to lay in a supply of coffee or tea, chocolate, chips, and cookies, or whatever your favorite snack foods might be, but brains work better on a healthy diet, so make sure you add nuts and fruit and other tasty treats that will charge your creativity and keep you from crashing. You also want to make sure you have sufficient toilet paper, tissues, aspirin or other pain reliever of choice, etc. Nothing like discovering you’re out of something vital when you’re on a writing tear at 2 a.m.

Inform your friends and family of your plans. Make sure they know you won’t be quite as social as usual during the month ahead. Assign temporary chores to your kids and spouse to keep the household running smoothly (with promised bribes to be delivered in December if necessary). Arrange a signal — closed door, special article of clothing you’re wearing — so they know when you’re deep in NaNo territory and not to be bothered for anything less than fire or spilt blood.

Show your internal editor the door. You’re not going to want to edit at all in November. What goes into your novel document, stays in your novel document. No erasing, no deleting, no backtracking. If you change a major plot point, put a note in brackets mid-text and continue as if you’ve already altered the early part of your story. Don’t waste time making changes or worrying over the beauty of your sentences. Your internal editor is more than welcome to come back once NaNo is over, but for now, they should take a hike.

Mark your calendar. Whether you have a paper planner, a wall calendar, or an electronic calendar, you want to mark that baby up with your NaNo goals, with the obvious 50,000-word goal in bold on November 30th. It’s a good idea to try and work ahead if you can, to leave yourself a cushion in case something keeps you from your writing for a day or two, so aim for more than 25% of your total goal the first week. Add in any local write-ins or NaNo events you plan to attend. Check off those goals when you hit them, adding gold stars or stickers or big, fat exclamation points — whatever makes you smile.

Organize your tools. Are you going to write your entire NaNo novel on your computer? Terrific! Make sure you’ve got a system in place to back up your work, whether you have your entire hard drive backing up, you’re saving to the cloud, or e-mailing yourself the document at the end of each day. There’s nothing scarier than losing several thousand words when you’re up against a 30-day deadline. Even if you prefer typing, you should get a small notebook and pen/pencil to keep with you at all times. That way if inspiration strikes while you’re standing in line at the DMV or waiting at the dentist, you can scribble your thoughts even if you don’t have your laptop handy. Finally, make sure you have a comfortable seat. Add a lumbar pillow if necessary You’re going to be spending a lot of time typing — best to be cozy. And don’t forget to get up and stretch regularly!

The countdown has begun. In less than 48 hours, you’ll be off and running. Good luck, and happy writing!

Happy Book Day!


Archangel's Shadows

Happy new book release day to Nalini Singh, whose latest installment in her Guild Hunter series, ARCHANGEL’S SHADOWS, hits stores today!

Return to New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh’s sensual and painfully beautiful Guild Hunter world in her new novel of sacrifice, loyalty, and the choices of love that can shatter the heart.

In the wake of a brutal war, the archangel Raphael and his hunter consort, Elena, are dealing with the treacherously shifting tides of archangelic politics and the people of a battered but not broken city. The last thing their city needs is more death, especially a death that bears the eerie signature of an insane enemy archangel who cannot—should not—be walking the streets.

This hunt must be undertaken with stealth and without alerting their people. It must be handled by those who can become shadows themselves…

Ash is a gifted tracker and a woman cursed with the ability to sense the secrets of anyone she touches. But there’s one man she knows all too well without a single instant of skin contact: Janvier, the dangerously sexy Cajun vampire who has fascinated and infuriated her for years. Now, as they track down a merciless killer, their cat-and-mouse game of flirtation and provocation has turned into a profound one of the heart. And this time, it is Ash’s secret, dark and terrible, that threatens to destroy them both.

Check out this exciting title, now available in paperback and e-book editions.

Friday Links

Happy Friday! I’m currently in Surrey, B.C, Canada, for the Surrey International Writer’s Conference, but by the magic of the internet, I’ve left you some links to keep you busy this weekend. I hope you’ve all set aside some time for reading and/or writing, and that inspiration proves kind. Happy writing!

Opportunities for Writers: November and December 2014 – A list of places to submit your writing with upcoming deadlines. Did you resolve to submit your work in 2014? Better hurry up if you haven’t crossed it off your list!

45 YA Titles for Your October – December Radar – A terrific roundup of young adult books releasing the last quarter of the year.

Roxane Gay and Lena Dunham on Online Criticism – An interesting conversation between two writers, each with a recent collection of essays and a whole lot of experience with the interwebs.

NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month kicks off November 1st, and the updated 2014 version of the website with all its tips and support strategies has gone live. Head over and check it out!

October Books: A Reading List for the Month of Harvests and Horror – Great reading recommendations for October, including the requisite scary stories for Halloween.

Friday Links

Happy Friday, everyone! I hope you’ve all had a terrific week and that the weekend ahead holds some excellent adventures. Busy, busy over here, so this is just a fly-by post to give you this week’s links. Happy writing, and enjoy!

Get to Know the Finalists for the 2014 National Book Award – Looking for a weekend read? Maybe give one of these babies a try.

Seven Stories Chooses 50 Best Books for Cultural Diversity – Get your kids going on diverse reading early with these wonderful recommendations, divided by age range.

Is This a Golden Age for Women Essayists? – A look at some of the wonderful volumes of essays written by women that have been released recently, and some thoughts about what that means.

Shut Up and Write (Or: “I Really Want to Be a Writer, But…”) – Tough love from Chuck Wendig


Ready to NaNo?

It’s the middle of October, which means November and NaNoWriMo are only a couple of weeks away. For the uninitiated, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, a period during which thousands upon thousands of writers of every ilk and intention, all around the world, put fingers to keyboard and start furiously writing in the attempt to turn out an entire novel (of approximately 50,000 words — so not really a full-length novel according to most genres) in 30 days.

If that sounds a little insane, it’s actually only a little less than 1,700 words per day. That’s a lot for some writers and less than normal output for others. The real idea behind the challenge, however, is to force you to write, full out, with no time off for editing or mulling over or second guessing. You turn off the internal editor and just see what you come up with. At worst you have a really shitty first draft on December 1st that needs a whole lot of work. Maybe you just keep small bits and pieces and end up turning them into something else. Or perhaps you have the bones of something new and wonderful. What you don’t have is an empty page.

I encourage writers who want to give NaNoWriMo a try. It can be a fun exercise or a social endeavor, a way to finally push yourself to get a lot of writing done or a kick start on your next project. The key is to remember you will end up with a first draft, not a polished manuscript. December 1st rolls around demanding more writing and lots of editing. So give yourself permission to go a little crazy.

Whether you’re an outliner or a discovery writer, you’ll have a better chance of hitting your 50,000-word goal in a month if you do at least some prep work. So what kind of things should you be thinking about between now and November 1st?

  • Characters – Who do you want to write about? Dream up some interesting characters and figure out a little bit about who they are and what they might want.
  • Setting – If you can figure out where you want your book to be set, you may be able to do a little research ahead of time so you’ll have the information to write about at your fingertips.
  • Careers – Here’s another aspect of your story you can research ahead. If you’re planning to give your characters interesting jobs and/or skills, you want to be able to describe them or fit them into your story with a certain level of authority. So look up things now.
  • Plot – This is the tricky one, of course. Maybe you have an idea already burning in your brain, or maybe you have a hundred of them. Pick one (or maybe one and a backup if you’d rather) to flesh out a bit. You won’t start writing yet, of course, but that doesn’t mean you can’t fill a few note cards with ideas for potential pivotal scenes in your book — things to write first, or to write toward.

Finally, be sure to check out the NaNo site for information and tips. They provide pep talks throughout the month of November, plus all sorts of advice. There are local groups and online forums and places you can go write with other participants in coffee shops. Even if you’ve participated in NaNoWriMo before, you can make it a new and fresh experience each year. Good luck, and happy writing!

Friday Links

Happy Friday! I hope you all had an enjoyable week and that your plans for the weekend are shaping up. If you’re planning to participate in NaNoWriMo this year, you might consider starting to plan (assuming you haven’t already). Three weeks and counting to the madness. It’s also a great time to pick up some spooky, Halloween-type reading if you’re so inclined.

Whatever your plans for the weekend, I’ve got some great links here to inspire you. I hope you find them entertaining and educational. Happy writing!

The Introvert’s Guide to Planning a Book Launch – Some helpful tips for those of you who’d prefer to hide under a blanket with your laptop instead of promoting your book.

Judge Overturns IRS on Artist Tax Deductions – Useful for anyone juggling a day job that requires work similar to your art.

20 Amazing Writing Residencies You Should Apply for This Year – Looking for some time away to write? Check these out.

How to Write a Kick-Ass Essay, with Ann Hood – Wonderful Tin House podcast featuring Ann Hood’s workshop lecture on how to write a stellar essay.

Our Favorite Spooky Tales – Some recommendations for seasonal reading from the New York Public Library.

Friday Links

Happy Friday, and welcome to October! It’s the month for fall colors, crisp apples and shiny pumpkins, Halloween costumes, and NaNoWriMo prep (for those of you who go for that sort of thing). Of course in my neck of the woods, it’s supposed to hit 100 degrees again over the weekend, but I’m studiously ignoring that fact and planning a good fall housecleaning; time to haul old electronics out for recycling and to donate books to the library.

What do you have planned for your weekend? A short getaway? A cozy couple of days at home with the family? Some quality time with your WIP? Whatever you’ve got on the schedule, I hope you enjoy. And if you’re looking for a bit of a break, I have a huge list of links this week to offer up some distraction. Happy writing!

12 Essential Essays for Writers – A great roundup with inspiration for all.

First Pages: Tips to Avoid Cliches and Weak Writing – Some good advice on how to craft a strong first page.

10 Lessons from Real-life Revolutions that Fictional Dystopias Ignore – Food for thought if you’re writing a dystopian novel (or considering it).

Fiction Podcast: George Saunders Reads Grace Paley and Barry Hannah – Sit back and enjoy.

How I Forgot to Write – An interesting look at how the business of creating a career can alter your intended trajectory.

For Sale: Gloucester Home, Possibly Haunted by T.S. Eliot – An inspirational location, regardless.

When Science Fiction Grew Up – An intriguing look at the genre from the late 1950s through the mid-1970s, including a long list of titles. Great for anyone looking to brush up on their sf history/reading.