Friday Links: Happy Valentine’s Day Edition

Valentine’s Day puts me in a quandry. In my heart I consider it a retail holiday, designed to sell chocolates, flowers, cards, and fancy dinners. But I also represent quite a few romance writers, and I love a good love story. So there you have it. Whichever way your belief system lands, wishing you a lovely day. And hopefully some good chocolate and an even better book.

In light of the holiday, I did find some suitably romantic links. And a bunch of other stuff, too, for those of you frowning at me. I think it’s a good roundup with something for everyone, so I hope you get inspired to write something great. If you’re more in the mood to curl up with a good read this weekend, I’ve got you covered, as well.

Happy writing, happy reading, and a very happy Valentine’s Day to all. Enjoy!

This Week’s Links:

Celebrating Valentines with Our Favorite SFF Ships. – The folks at Tor/Forge share a few romances from SFF land.

17 Books that Will Make You Believe in Love. – BuzzFeed has you covered.

23 YA Romance Novels that Are Better than a Candlelit Dinner. – BuzzFeed again, but for the young adult crowd (and those who like to read about them).

Quiz: Find the Perfect Shakespeare Quote for Your Valentine. – What it says on the box. Fun for those of you who like to handwrite your cards.

Voices of Change. – A talk with authors Tomi Adeyemi, Akwaeke Emezi, Elizabeth Acevedo, Angie Thomas, and Nic Stone about the (slowly) diversifying landscape of young adult fiction.

RWA 2020: No Ending in Sight, Just Hollow Women. – A thorough update from the folks at Smart Bitches about the mess at Romance Writers of America.

Season of the Witch: The Rise of Queer Magic in YA SFF. – A look at how more diverse young adult fiction is queer without relying on coming-stories, particularly in the SFF realm.

How Obama’s Reading Shaped His Writing. – A bookseller looks at President Obama’s relationship to bookstores and writing.

Shelf Life: Anne Enright on the Five Books that Made Her. – The Booker Prize-winning author talks about the books she believes helped make her a writer.

Friday Links: Writers On Writing (and Reading)

I sifted through the links I discovered this week and found many focused on writers discussing writing. Normally, I need to hunt for these sorts of links to share. They appear mostly on niche sites. This week, for whatever reason (and I could speculate), the world is discussing narrative. Points of view. Truth versus fiction. Who should have a voice. I love that so many writers have joined in, whether to tell personal stories or to share a wider perspective. Regardless, I’m pleased to pass along these interesting stories, as each offers up some wonderful food for thought to take back to your own efforts.

Next weekend I’m heading off to Utah to teach at the Futurescapes Workshop. In case you missed it, I posted yesterday about how to attend my masterclass there if you’re in the neighborhood.

This weekend, however, I’m nose down in a client manuscript, plus a pile of submissions. I’ve closed the query box temporarily, because I was a bit behind from the holidays and then more than 400 of you queried me in January. That’s not even counting partials/manuscripts I’m trying to get through, so I’ve shut the gates. I plan to reopen on the 21st, once I’m back from the workshop and a bit caught up.

In the meantime, wishing you all a wonderful weekend, filled with good reads and some productive writing time. Enjoy!

This Week’s Links:

How to Write Fiction When the Planet Is Falling Apart. – Author Jenny Offill discusses her new novel, which addresses climate change.

Screenwriter and Novelist, Turned YA Author, Christopher J. Moore: Author Spotlight. – An interview with the talented, versatile writer.

Women Writers Are Driving Philadelphia’s Literary Renaissance. – An interesting look at the group of authors leading the recent surge of notable books from the Philadelphia area.

A Year in the Life: 2019. – Author Roxane Gay shares her annual roundup of books she’s read and things she’s written in the past year.

I Don’t Want to Be the Strong Female Lead. – Filmmaker Brit Marling talks about the difference between male- and female-centric stories, and what gets lost when women replace men at the head of a traditional quest narrative.

The Secret Feminist History of Shakespeare and Company. – A look at the life of Sylvia Beach, original owner and driving force behind the bookstore. I’m not sure how much of a secret it all is, but it’s definitely interesting.

The Great Vision of Houston’s Arte Público Press. – A brief history of the publisher’s efforts to bring Hispanic authors ignored by mainstream presses out into the public’s eye.

Friday Links: Building a Career as a Writer

I tend to focus on the early days of becoming a writer, for obvious reasons. How to develop craft, how to query, whether you should go to conferences, etc. But today I’m stepping back a bit and considering the bigger picture. I don’t mean you should put the cart before the horse if you’re in the early stages of writing. Those initial steps are foundational and deserve your attention. But everyone daydreams about “someday,” and plenty of writers are further along in their process. So a number of today’s links consider what it means to build a career as a writer.

I’ve mixed a few odds and ends in, as well, so there’s something for everyone. I hope you all have a lovely weekend, and set aside some time to write or to curl up with a great read. Enjoy!

This Week’s Links:

Overcoming Writing Anxiety. – Different from writer’s block, this can hit at any stage of your career. Some good ideas here on how to combat the problem.

If You’re Looking to Write More in 2020, Rebecca Makkai Has Your Strangely Specific Prompts. – Pretty much what it sounds like. Author Rebecca Makkai is Tweeting daily prompts this year under the hashtag #366prompts. (We get an extra because it’s a leap year.)

Writing Excuses: Evolution of a Career. – The first episode of this season of the Writing Excuses podcast focuses on how writing careers evolve and all sorts of important questions that you might associate with that topic.

How and When Should a Writer Use a Pen Name or Pseudonym? – Some of the reasons why a writer might wish to write under a different or an additional name.

How Edith Wharton’s Novel of New York High Society Speaks to Class Divisions Today. – Author Jennifer Egan discusses The House of Mirth and the ways in which it still resonates.

“Why would I close the door to a queer person?” LGBTQ Fantasy Comes of Age. – A look at the crop of new fantasy novels that feature more gender-diverse casts.

Friday Links: The Ups and Downs of Publishing Culture

Publishing appears to be in the middle of a cultural revolution. It makes sense. As goes the world, so go the books it produces. The Romance Writers of America are in the midst of a clash between the old, stodgy, racist past, and what we hope will be a bright, brilliant, diverse future. The fact is, there’s room for everyone at the table.

In light of all the strife going on–not just in publishing circles–I’m offering up links that highlight a variety of reading material, and the varied people producing them. I hope they inspire you to try something new, and to be accepting of other people’s culture and history. Part of what I love about what I do is how different my job can be every single day. That’s the beauty of books; there’s always something fresh to discover.

Wishing you a wonderful weekend. Happy writing!

This Week’s Links:

WTF, RWA. – Another great history of the events surrounding the Courtney Milan banning and the insanity at Romance Writers of America.

Has African Migration to the U.S. Led to a Literary Renaissance? – A wonderful look at some of the African writers now living and working in the U.S.

Ursula K. LeGuin’s Revolutions. – Addressing the author’s work from not just a political perspective, but with an eye on how she envisioned the future.

The Sound and the Story: Exploring the World of Paradise Lost. – Philip Pullman writes about the epic work and how it influenced his own writing.

Most Anticipated: The Great First-Half 2020 Book Preview. – The Millions takes their annual look at the most anticipated titles due out in the first half of the year. A hugely diverse assortment.

10 Collections from Latinx Poets You Might Have Missed in 2019. – I’m always on the lookout for new poetry because poems fit so easily into my hectic reading schedule and give me a wonderful break. A nice assortment here to check out.

Writing Characters of Different Races and Ethnicities. – A great resource. I probably linked to it previously, but it’s worth another mention.

Book Releases: LGBT YA Books of January-June, 2020. – Pretty much as described. A terrific roundup of upcoming titles.

Romance Writers of America and Their Racism Problem

I joined RWA as an associate member (typical for a literary agent) in 2005, and over the last fifteen years have participated in a number of conferences–both local and national–providing content and taking pitches. I could see the benefits offered by the organization to their members, but I also became aware of the downsides of the group. RWA leadership has always felt entrenched in their ways. Reluctant to change, slow to catch up with major shifts in the publishing industry. It took considerable time for the shiny new e-book format to count as a published book, whether members were looking to upgrade their membership status or enter the RITA Awards. When self-published authors sought recognition on par with their traditionally published peers, there was more deliberation over eligibility. But throughout all of these slow-moving changes, one issue has been consistent: RWA remained far too white.

As with other concerns, RWA has been addressing their racism problem. Very slowly. There have been discussions regarding the RITA Awards, the nomination and judging processes. Experts have been called upon to help determine ways to improve the system. To make it more fair, diverse, welcoming. There’s been a lot of talk. For years. And yet. And yet, here we are, with this enormous mess that began, unbeknownst to most, last August, and became very public just days before Christmas.

A brief recap, for those unfamiliar with the situation. Author Courtney Milan, who speaks out frequently against racism and stands up for the rights of all marginalized writers, was accused of breaking the RWA Code of Ethics when she criticized a work by author Kathryn Lynn Davis as being racist in its descriptions of a Chinese character. (Note: Milan herself is half Chinese.) RWA announced they were suspending her membership for a year and banning her from holding future office. Author Alyssa Cole shared the censure announcement on Twitter. She included links to the Code of Ethics and the original Twitter conversation that supposedly spured the complaint against Milan. Over the next few days, a sea of complaints were lodged in reaction to RWA’s handling of the situation and treatment of Milan, united under the hashtag #IStandWithCourtney. News articles began appearing in major outlets. RWA backed off their judgment, but only so far as to state they would turn the situation over for legal advice. Davis herself appeared to backtrack somewhat in an article in The Guardian.

For a thorough and regularly updated timeline of these events, including information about the initial complaint against Milan, I will link to author Claire Ryan’s detailed post: The Implosion of RWA. Huge kudos to her for keeping all of this straight. Also, for a recap that includes the most recent fallout–the cancellation of this year’s RITA Awards–I offer this Entertainment Weekly article.

So, what does all this mean? The reality is that there’s a world of difference between making policy adjustments to keep up with shifts in the industry, and getting to the root of how you treat actual people. Where RWA’s leadership could possibly afford to take their time determining the place e-books held in the world, there should be no such dithering regarding the rights of their membership–all of them–to be treated fairly, equally, and with respect. That means all ethics complaints are reviewed, and that evidence should be included before judgments are passed. It means you maintain transparency. And it certainly means you don’t drop a bombshell of censure right before Christmas and then close up shop for the holidays. RWA’s very handling of the initial complaint suggests that they themselves were aware that they were not behaving in an acceptable fashion.

This situation goes far beyond the need to diversify nominees for a book award; RWA has demonstrated that they need a complete overhaul of staff and culture to address racism at every level of the organization.

I could go on and on about all the things wrong with this situation, but many people, more articulate on the subject than I, have already done an excellent job. I can only comment on my own commitment to continue pushing for diversity and fair treatment in the publishing industry. I joined with a number of other agents to send a letter calling for the resignation of the full RWA leadership, and I will not be participating in any RWA events–providing presentations, taking pitches, etc.–until such time as they have cleaned house from the top and recommitted the organization to fairly representing all of its membership. I don’t know if it’s possible, and I reserve the right to walk away completely if they fail in the task.

 

Friday Links 2020: Kicking Off the New Year

Welcome to the first Friday Links for the new year! I’m still in vacation mode, so this week’s mostly a collection of book recs and some bookish culture, and one unfortunate mess. Plenty of time for more meaty content starting next week.

I hope you’re all enjoying the start of 2020, and that you’ve planned out some great reading and writing goals. I’ve put together a pretty ambitious to-do list, and I look forward to getting things going. More details as the year progresses. But it’s good to have positive things to focus on, especially when the world around us continues to resemble a dumpster fire. Time to create a wonderful new year with each new day.

Wishing you all a lovely weekend and an energetic, productive January. Happy writing!

This Week’s Links:

The Disappearance of John M. Ford. – An interesting look at the history of a once-popular science fiction author who fell into obscurity.

The Lives They Lived: Remembering Some of the Artists, Innovators, and Thinkers We Lost in the Past Year. – Obviously a mix of writers and other well-known individuals, but notable for the fact that it’s probably the only time you’ll find Harold Bloom, Toni Morrison, and Judith Krantz discussed on the same page.

The Romance Writers of America Racism Row Matters Because the Gatekeepers Are Watching. – One small piece of a huge, unfolding puzzle that officially exploded over the holidays. More on this separately once I’ve had a chance to actually assemble my thoughts into something coherent.

20 Books We’re Watching for in 2020. – A brief list but there are some excellent sounding titles here. Starting filling up that new year’s TBR list.

56 Books by Women and Nonbinary Writers of Color to Read in 2020. – Another great list of upcoming works to be on the lookout for.

2020 Preview: What Our Fiction Editor Will Be Reading This Year. – One last bunch of suggestions for your TBR list, this time from Kirkus Reviews.

Friday Links: The Black Friday Edition

Some of you probably spent your morning shopping, whether fighting crowds in stores or seeking deals online. I slept in, then treated myself to a lazy breakfast on the couch, with eggs and leftover biscuits from dinner last night. I’m not one for deep-deal diving in the days after Thanksgiving. Instead, I use these few days off to gear up for the last push of the year, and to prep for holiday travel. But I do have this week’s Friday Links for all of you, and whatever your schedule, I hope you find a moment to enjoy them.

Feet up in rainbow socks next to mug of coffee and an open paperback book.

A quick reminder for you: The 2019 December Writing Challenge kicks off on Sunday. I’ll be back tomorrow with the full rules of the challenge for those of you unfamiliar with them. Meanwhile, enjoy your leftovers, read a good book, finish up your NaNoWriMo project, or grab a nice nap. And happy writing!

This Week’s Links:

Pete Hamill ‘Ain’t Done Yet.’ – An interesting profile of the journalist and novelist as he works on what might be his final project.

You Can Book Harry Potter’s Childhood Home on Airbnb. – The home featured in the Harry Potter films as the house in Godric’s Hollow can be rented for as little as $150 per night.

The Best Sci-Fi and Fantasty Defies Easy Genre Categorization. – A discussion of the place held by these commercial labels and what they mean for the writer who wants to blur the lines.

Shannon Pufahl: Queering the Western. – For writers and readers interested in diversifying the literary landscape, as well as those intrigued by America’s national myth of the wild west.

The Slightly Foxed Podcast. – The podcast associated with the UK literary quarterly of the same name. Wonderful listening for anyone seeking slightly less-well-known titles to add to their TBR piles, interested in bits of literary trivia, or who counts themself an anglophile. Produced once a month, with a little over a year of back episodes currently available.

Pippi Longstocking Musical in Works to Celebrate 75th Anniversary. – Set for this coming summer in Stockholm, for any fans out there planning vacation travel. Fingers crossed it lands in a few more places in the future.

Books for the Holiday Rom-Com Fan. – An assortment of titles, both new and older, sure to fit your holiday mood.

Friday Links: Inspiration and Influence

We discuss inspiration a lot when talking about what we write. We want to read, to fill the well, to take in new ideas. Things inspire you to go in a particular direction with your work-in-progress. Sometimes it’s a snippet of conversation or a bit of reading, other times it’s more nebulous. Colors in the trees. A flashy outfit on a woman across the street. A moment of fear when it looks like something terrible might happen.

Girl_on_mountain_stretching_at_sunset

But past influences? I think we mostly discuss those in relation to published writers, asking them to look back at who they’ve read and what they’ve experienced that made them a writer. It’s harder to think about it in the moment, to look at your half-formed manuscript and recognize the pieces of your past that form the roots. It’s something to consider, next time you hit a wall or find your momentum slowing. Think about where you’re going, but also about where you’ve been. Ask what brought you there. It might help you figure out what comes next.

Along those lines, I offer up this week’s Friday Links, with plenty of inspiration and maybe a few looks at influence, too. I hope they give you a push in the right direction. Wishing you a wonderful weekend and productive writing!

This Week’s Links:

Five Books about Artists and the Magic of Creativity. – Maggie Stiefvater discusses the natural melding of art and magic and how that comes across in books.

The Second Shelf. – A peek into the world of A.N. Devers’s wonderful second-hand bookshop, located in London, where books by women get a second life in a market that is traditionally dominated by male writers.

Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of November. – Some great new titles topping the list per Amazon.

How to Unlearn Everything: When it Comes to Writing the ‘Other,’ What Questions Are We not Asking? – Alexander Chee looks at the importance of including diverse characters versus what it means to let a person tell their own story.

Explore the List of 100 Novels that Shaped Our World. – The BBC shares a broad list of titles voted on by a collection of writers, critics, etc., focusing not on what books are “best,” but on what works had the most influence on them and their surroundings.

Philip Pullman On Children’s Literature and the Critics Who Distain It. – The author looks at the what the label “children’s literature” actually means, and why these books are no less worthy of an adult’s attention than any other type of writing.

How to Review a Novel. – Advice on the process, but also something interesting for fiction writers to consider. Reviewers and pleasure readers can have very different perspectives.

A Roundup of 2019’s Major Science Fiction and Fantasy Award Winners. – Pad out your TBR list with some of these amazing award-winning novels.

Friday Links: NaNo Inspiration and Motivation

For anyone looking for a bit of NaNo inspiration, I have some thoughts beyond my tips from earlier in the week. That post assumes you will use NaNoWriMo more or less as intended by the organizers. To win NaNo, you need to write 50,000 new words in November and submit for verification I hinted there were other ways to tackle the challenge, so today I’d like to elaborate. And yes, links will follow. If you’re not interested in NaNoWriMo, feel free to skip ahead.

The beauty of NaNo lies in the community that forms around it. People who love writing and/or stories get together and celebrate this crazy act of creativity. Many are hobbyists, searching for a fun group activity. A good number never plan to publish a book. They write fanfiction for fun or play around with writing a novel for their own enjoyment. But NaNo works even if you do have major aspirations. Plenty of published writers started out in the NaNoWriMo challenge. And if you search, you’ll learn that many disregarded the rules and made NaNo work for their needs. They used what served their goals, and ignored the rest.

NaNoWriMo for Purists

If you’re a fairly new writer, you might hve an idea for a novel but lack the discipline to work on it regularly. Participating in NaNo encourages you to put your seat in the chair and get those words down. Don’t worry if the words aren’t so great; first drafts tend to be pretty crappy. But they give you a place to start, so you’re no longer staring at a blank page. And by tackling that draft during NaNo, you get a huge support system that’s built into the challenge. Find a write-in group near you and meet with them once a week. Check out the forums and chat with people writing in your genre. Ask questions of seasoned NaNo participants. Read the great pep talks that get posted by the pros. New writers can also find peers in November who become critique partners well into the future.

Already started writing a novel? Pick up where you left off and continue working on it during NaNoWriMo. Novels for adults run far longer than 50,000 words, so take what you’ve written and add to it. You might actually have a complete draft by month’s end. If you track new words written–using a new document, for instance–you can still submit to verify completion of the challenge. And again, make the most of the offers and community that come with the event while you write, letting that NaNo inspiration motivate you through the tough parts.

NaNoWriMo with a Twist

Maybe you’ve been at this a while and have a draft that needs rewriting. Use NaNo and its support systems for your editing project. You might not have a new 50,000-word manuscript to hand in come November 30th, but you’ll still make progress. It’s far more important to hit your own goal than the goal set up by the challenge organizers. And in the meantime, enjoy the cheerleading that goes on during the month. Use it to energize and encourage you as you tackle your rewrite.

What about pacing? Maybe the idea of writing 1,667 words per day (roughly what you need to complete NaNo) makes you panic. So don’t write that fast. Don’t aim for 50,000 words in a month. Make your goal half that, or whatever feels like a doable stretch. Perhaps the challenge for you lies in actually writing daily. Set a time goal instead of a word goal–30 minutes a day until the end of the month. Make the writing habit the aim instead of the finished product.

NaNoWriMo works so well because the challenge offers you one potential route to success, and then encourages participants to come play on your own terms. Now, maybe none of these options appeal to you, and that’s fine too. But if you’re looking for a way to participate in NaNoWriMo, I say go for it. Figure out what you want to achieve, and adapt the challenge to meet that goal.

With that bit of NaNo inspiration out there, I’ll move on to the links for the week. Wishing you all a wonderful weekend, and happy writing!

This Week’s Links:

Messy Attics of the Mind: What’s Inside a Writer’s Notebook. – Interesting look at the act of keeping notes and the ongoing fascination with the origin of story ideas.

5 Books Featuring Women in Love with Women. – Tor offers up some wonderful SFF titles for anyone looking to mix up their reading list.

7 Wonderful Classic Reprint Series. – When you favorites get a new look. Nice peek at some great new book designs.

The Draw of the Gothic. – What fascinates us about this particular story mood.

Inside the Rooms Where 20 Famous Books Were Written. – A peek at the room where it happened. Yeah, I know, but I couldn’t resist.

How to Renew Your English Degree. – A bit of humor courtesy of McSweeney’s.

3 Principles for Finding Time to Write. – Tips for how to prioritize your writing.

 

Friday Links: SFF Edition

In the wake of last weekend’s Hugo Awards, an SFF edition of Friday Links feels like a fun way to go. Not everything is science fiction or fantasy related, but a good chunk leans that way, including a nice wrap up of the Hugos themselves.

View of milky way through the treetops

My week was crazy in general, so I apologize if this week’s links run a little shorter than usual. I feel like we’re rushing headlong into September, and I’m not ready. I theorize that once we hit Labor Day, the rest of the year churns faster than usual. Not scientific, but it feels real.

So on that note, I leave you with some fun links to entertain and inspire you. Wishing you a wonderful weekend, filled with books and excellent writing time. Enjoy!

SFF Edition:

Hugo Awards: Women Clean Up as N.K. Jemisin Wins Best Novel Again. – A nice look at the list of winners, including N.K. Jemisin and her history-making three-peat winning the Best Novel award.

The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction Is the Best Place on the Internet. – A fun discussion and brief history of the online resource.

The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction. – The amazing resource referenced above.

Day in the Life of a Book Editor: Caroline Bleeke of Flatiron Books. – A peek at what the job of an editor entails.

The Weirdest Libraries Around the World. – A fun look at some offbeat libraries in unlikely locations.

Aliette de Bodars Recommends: Four Fantasy Books from Alternate Worlds. – Some great recs for stories with less frequently seen influences.

15 Highly Anticipated New Science Fiction and Fantasy Books for Fall. – Pretty much as described.