Wishing you all a happy, healthy new year, filled with accomplishments, joy, and love! It’s been a tough few years, and we certainly don’t want to put too much pressure on 2022. But I, for one, choose to go into this new year with hope for positive change, new energy to stand against all the strife, and a belief that we can all do better, whatever that means in your life. If nothing else, we can celebrate that we’ve made it this far.
Happy Halloween Eve! The week got away from me, as I’ve been catching up after last week’s virtual Surrey International Writer’s Conference. I started out Monday with a pile of backlog and a brain buzzing about writing structure, saggy middles, handling timelines, and more. Even agents pick up great tips at writing conferences.
So here we are, on the cusp of Halloween, plus a new month and the start of NaNoWriMo. I thought I’d offer a mix of writerly and seasonal links to kick things off. Whether you plan to watch horror movies, dress up, or just settle down with a good book and bowl of candy, I wish you a fun, safe Halloween, and a stellar start to NaNo. Don’t forget to set your clocks back Saturday night. You get an extra hour of writing time on Sunday. Sounds like a treat to me!
This week’s links:
‘I spooked myself right before bedtime:’ Authors on Their Scariest Creations. – A little Halloween inspiration to put you in the mood.
The Ghost Stories of Muriel Spark. – A peek at some lesser known works of the author that fit right into the season.
Tana French: Hope in Hard Times. – The thriller writer discusses her latest manuscript, which she has the great fortune to hand in shortly before COVID-19 shut downs ramped up, as well as other aspects of her writing on the latest episode of The Secret Library Podcast.
Where to Start with Shirley Jackson. – The author’s work seems to be undergoing a resurgence on screen, but what about actually reading her stories? Here’s a guide to how you might approach them.
When Is It Okay to Write About Someone Else’s Culture or Experience? – Part of Charlie Jane Anders’ ongoing project to write a book about story craft, which Tor.com has been publishing in installments. Great information here about what we mean when we refer to #OwnVoices writing.
How Not to Be All About What It’s Not All About: Further Thoughts on Writing About Someone Else’s Culture and Experience. – A terrific follow up to the above from Nisi Shawl.
Dissecting Suspense in Rebecca. – In light of the new adapation on Netflix (which I advise you to skip; stick to the Hitchcock version), I urge you to read or reread Daphne du Maurier’s classic novel and see for yourself all the ways suspense can build. Terrific lesson, no matter what sort of fiction you write.
Despite appearances, I did not abandon the blog, and today seemed a good day to emerge from the metaphorical grave. Trick or treat!
When life gets busy, something needs to give a little. I love writing this blog, but it is the thing I’m most able to set aside when my schedule fills up. I do miss it, however, so this flyby marks my attempt to kick things back into gear. Today I simply wish you all a very Happy Halloween, and for those of you gearing up, cheer you on for tomorrow’s start of NaNoWriMo. Keep an eye out for more content-heavy posts coming soon.
Halloween distractions feel like an appropriate reason to post the latest Friday Links collection. It helps that my whirlwind conference schedule wrapped up last weekend. I love sharing links with all of you, but when I work three conferences in four weeks, something needs to give. In this case, blogging took a back seat. That doesn’t mean I haven’t been keeping my eyes open for fun sites, however. Halloween-themed literary links have been popping up a lot the past week. I’ll admit I took it as a sign–the internet gods smiling down on me. Or reminding me to get back in gear. Either one works.
In case you missed my earlier posts this week, please note The Knight Agency announced a new submissions system. All details are available in yesterday’s post, or over at the agency submissions page. Basically, we’ve migrated to using QueryManager. All submissions sent through the old system will still receive responses; please don’t resend anything.
And with that, I’ll get right to the links. They include a mix of spooky, seasonal goodies to check out and a backlog of things I bookmarked over the past month. I hope you find them entertaining and inspiring in this run up to Halloween (and NaNoWriMo!). Now on to those Halloween distractions. Enjoy, and happy writing!
Halloween Distractions and Other Links:
How Victorian Mansions Became the Default Haunted House. – A fun look at this history of this imagery in books and film.
The Ghost Story Persists in American Literature. Why? – The ongoing love affair between readers and the supernatural.
Vincent Price’s Delightful 1969 Lecture on Witchcraft, Magick, and Demonology. – Because really, what’s Halloween without Vincent Price’s wonderfully spooky voice in your ear?
Who Are the Forgotten Greats of Science Fiction? – Some wonderful old titles for anyone interested in the roots of the genre.
Talking to Arthur Levine about 20 Years of Harry Potter. – A nice look back at the journey of the boy wizard with the American publisher.
A Premature Attempt at the 21st Century Canon. – Vulture chooses the best 100 books of the 21st century… so far. They admit it’s early, but clearly still had a good time putting this together. I like a lot of their choices and their effort to keep things diverse. Interesting, regardless, especially if you’re looking for a good read.
Roxane Gay: What Does a Political Story Look Like in 2018? – Gay talks about the challenges of choosing this year’s 20 best American short stories.
How Do I Become One of Those Writers Who Remember Everything? – Advice on how to cultivate a writer’s brain, and tricks for keeping all that information straight.
35 Over 35: Women Authors Who Debuted at 35 or Older. – Because everyone works at their own pace, and succeeding young isn’t the only way to do it.
With summer unofficially coming to a close, a vacation reading roundup seems necessary. Maybe you’re taking off for a week before fall hits, or maybe you just wish you were. Either way, it’s time to catch up on the summer books you meant to read but never got around to.
I still have writing tips for you this week, but there are a lot of book lists. Some even hint at back-to-school and the approach of autumn. And don’t worry if you’re currently coping with winter and dreaming of spring. Plenty of these will appeal to you, too.
So without further ado, I give you this week’s Friday Links. I hope you find some great writing inspiration and some intriguing vacation reading to add to your TBR. Have a fabulous weekend!
This week’s links:
Top 10 Books about Americans Abroad. – For inspiration or armchair traveling.
16 Puerto Rican Women and Non-Binary Writers Telling New Stories. – A great introduction to Puerto Rican literature, particulary for anyone working to diversify their reading.
An Extensive List of Amazing Books by WOC. – Pretty much exactly as stated. Something here for everyone.
The Three Types of Book Cover Design Every Writer Should Know. – A nice reference for anyone sellf-publishing but also for traditional writers trying to figure out what to expect from their cover art.
The Virtues of Shelf-lessness. – Writer Sloane Crosley shares her approach to keeping books in her home.
Click if You Dare: 100 Favorite Horror Stories. – For those of you already planning Halloween costumes. A great list with a broad definition of what horror means, so even readers who shy away from scary books should find something here.
Five Reasons to Keep Track of Every Single Book You Read. – Justification for that diligent list-making. I’m right there with you, and I wish I started younger.
As Barnes & Noble Struggles to Find Footing, Founder Takes Heat. – A look at the state of the bookstore chain and its fight to reinvent itself.
Start Writing Fiction: A Free Online Course Starts 3 September. – Information on an upcoming class from The Open University.
In Search of Doors. – The text of V.E. Schwab’s 2018 J.R.R. Tolkien Lecture on Fantasy Literature, which she presented at Oxford University earlier this year.
This week I’m focused on the idea that there are stories only you can tell. Writers sometimes struggle to find their unique voice. But often the problem lies in trying to tell a story that has no personal connection.
Last weekend, at the Surrey International Writers’ Conference, I listened to a number of very different keynote speeches. Tetsuro Shigematsu shared tales of family, of his relationships with his sisters, his father, and how they influenced the stories he told. Amal El-Mohtar spoke of belonging, of the sense memory of scent and how a whiff of something familiar and beloved can draw you into a community. Mary Robinette Kowal spoke about mechanics and voice and that something else that draws you in–or rather her charming puppet did. Liza Palmer talked about being real on the page, and the importance of being real in life first. These writers, and many others over the course of the conference, dug deep into themselves to tap into their stories. They shared personal moments, and in doing so, chose specific details to make the narrative relatable.
When writing fiction, writers dig just as deeply into their psyches to make their stories sing. Every story you write is your own story, whether you mine true-life experiences or let your imagination roam. Find the bits that touch your heart, make you laugh or cry. The choices you make will reveal your unique voice, and will result in stories only you can tell.
This week’s collection of links is something of a hodgepodge, but I hope you will consider them in light of the above. Think about it while reading great books, while working on your current project, while going for a run. Enjoy, and happy writing.
This Week’s Links
I Talked to 150 Writers and Here’s the Best Advice They Had. – A great collection of tidbits from a wide selection of authors.
How a kid who didn’t read a book until he was 17 grew up to become a literary star. – Short interview with award-winning YA author Jason Reynolds.
13 new Halloween reads to chill, amuse, inform, and terrify. – Some books to add to your seasonal TBR pile this weekend.
23 Writing Competitions to Enter Before the End of the Year. – A varied list of competitions with upcoming deadlines.
50 Great Narrative Nonfiction Books. – Some wonderful nonfiction to break up that pile of novels you’re working on, inform, inspire, and entertain.
The original synopsis of Harry Potter that J.K. Rowling sent to publishers has been revealed. – A few caveats: Rowling probably sent this (or something similar) to agents, and ultimately her agent sent it to publishers. It’s just the first page, as visible in the new British Library exhibit. Finally, it is definitely the synopsis, not the pitch or query as was declared by BuzzFeed elsewhere. But it gives a great idea of the pacing and level of detail for a synopsis. I’d guess this runs about 2-3 pages total.
Cold War Noir: 10 Novels that Defined an Anxious Era. – Given current politics, these types of novels are once again all the rage.
Necessary Whimsy: Vampire Bunnies and Other Weird-But-Fun Halloween Reads. – For anyone looking for a little humor with their horror this year.
It’s a day known for candy, for costumes, for scary stories and haunted houses and a final settling into the autumn season. So whether you plan to take your little ones out for some trick-or-treat fun, read a great old horror novel, or simply steal some time to work on plotting out your NaNoWriMo novel so you’re ready for tomorrow, I wish you a fun-filled, safe holiday, complete with all the best sorts of thrills.
Happy Friday, everyone! It feels like we just started October, yet here we are heading into the last weekend of the month. I hope you’ve all had a productive few weeks and have made progress on your goals for 2016. The end of the year is in sight, so now is the time to double down and make some good headway.
This week I have a rather abbreviated collection of links, mostly because I was traveling and then playing catch up and so there wasn’t a great deal of time for scouting out wonderful snippets. However, it’s a pretty diverse assortment — though overall a little gloomy and Halloween-appropriate — and I hope you find them interesting and inspiring. Sometimes the smallest tidbit can provide a new outlook or perspective. Plus I have not forgotten that NaNoWriMo kicks off starting Tuesday. If you’re participating this year, I wish you the best of luck. Enjoy, and happy writing!
The Lost Virtue of Cursive – A look at the art of handwriting and some thoughts about its present, and future.
Sheri S. Tepper’s Dystopias – In honor of the author, who passed away this week, a look back at her best known novels.
Anne Brontë, Anger, and the Resonance of Assault in The Tenant of Wildfell Hall – A look at this less known Brontë sister and the underpinnings of her best known novel.
Eight Horror Films about Writers – A little Halloween goodness for you all.
Marlon James: Why I’m Done Talking about Diversity – An intriguing perspective on the discussion of diversity in publishing and writing.
The Perks and Perils of Writing a 50,000 Word Novel in a Month – Some thoughts on NaNoWriMo.
Happy Friday, everyone! This is my last weekend in town for a while, as I’ve got back-to-back conferences coming up, so I’m going to keep this short but sweet. As you might imagine, I’ve a very long to-do list about now. So without further ado, I offer up this week’s links. Enjoy, and don’t forget to put aside some writing time!
26 Maps Reveal a New York City Hiding in Plain Sight – Writing about New York? Pondering the different sides of a city — any city? These might give you some ideas.
Bullet Journaling for Fiction Writers – Ideas for organizing your thoughts, research, writing schedule, and more.
What Makes a Children’s Book Good? – A discussion of pretty much what the title states.
Alexandra Kleeman & Lincoln Michel: On Genre, Influence, and Getting Weird in Fiction – Two writers known for their short fiction discuss the format and their own perspectives on writing.
Why Melissa de la Cruz’s Immigration Story Matters Now – A look at the author’s new book and her experiences as an immigrant to the U.S.
Study Storied Women with Iowa’s International Writing Program – Details on a new, free online writing course offered by the University of Iowa.
The Literature of Creepy Clowns – Fitting, given the approach of Halloween and also the strange clown threats popping up across the country.
TGIF! End of the week, on the cusp of Halloween, and nearly ready to turn the clocks back an hour here in most of the U.S. and a few other spots that are in sync with us. (Yes, that’s this weekend.) I wish I could say I was looking forward to an extra hour of reading, but like many people I suspect, I’m actually looking forward to an extra hour of sleep.
I’ve been in post-conference mode this week, trying to catch up on email and work reading, and feeling like my office is just a bit too quiet after spending a few days talking books and writing with so many wonderful people. Most of the time I enjoy working from home because I don’t have the temptation of lots of coworkers to talk to or to take breaks with, but it’s still lovely to have a chance to chat business and bookish obsessions with likeminded folk. It reminds me of all the things I enjoy about this industry and leaves me charged up to find great new manuscripts to help shepherd into the world.
But I’m happy to say I have a great collection of links this week, including the last of the Halloween-ish ones that keep grabbing my attention. I hope you find them fun and interesting, and maybe even inspirational, because a couple of these seem like excellent research material for a very cool project. Happy Halloween, everyone, and happy writing!
The Conspiracy Against a Good Night’s Sleep – Tobias Carroll on the things that scare us.
The Key of Hell: An 18th-Century Manual of Black Magic – A bit disturbing, but interesting nonetheless. The page includes further links to articles on magic etc.
Why Are Old Women often the Face of Evil in Fairy Tales and Folklore? – An intriguing (and slightly depressing) story from the folks at NPR.
American Writers Museum Slated to Open in Chicago in 2017 – This will be the first U.S. museum to celebrate American writers, including authors of books and poetry, journalists, and prominent contributors to social media.
In the Sandbox of Words: On Puzzles and Novels – A look at the connection between wordplay and writing.
Really, Really Big Books: A Reading List – Some excellent fat books to check out if you’re looking for a doorstop for a chilly fall/winter night.
The Writer’s Guide to Essential Gear – Writer and artist Danny Gregory provides a helpful list of all the tools he uses for his writing.