Friday Links: Reading and Writing to Pack Your Weekend

Happy Friday, all! I’m currently winging my way to Seattle for the Emerald City Writers’ Conference this weekend, but I’ve got some links for you to keep you busy in my absence. And if you’re going to be at the conference, please say hello! I always love putting faces to names. Have a wonderful weekend whatever you have planned, and don’t forget to schedule some writing time. The end of the year is coming up fast, so tackle those goals while you can. Enjoy!

Literistic – A monthly mailing list of contests, deadlines, and places to submit your work. There’s an extensive version for a small fee, and shorter version for free.

20 Reasons Why You Should Read Literary Magazines – Pretty much what it sounds like, but the list name checks some terrific publications, so if you’re looking to expand your horizons it could be a good source.

Bookselling in the 21st Century: On the Difficulty of Recommending Books – More tales from the booksellers’ trenches.

We Need to Talk About Money: Practicality’s Place in a Writing Education – An interesting look at just where writers should acquire their business acumen.

Celebrated Writers on the Creative Benefits of Keeping a Diary – For anyone who might be wondering or just plain curious.

131 YA books for Your October to December Radar – A wrap up of the YA titles being released through year’s end.

Who Nominates Writers for the Nobel Prize? – For anyone wondering how Bob Dylan ended up this year’s prize winner in literature.

Friday Links: Late-and-Lazy Thanksgiving Weekend Edition

Yesterday, instead of posting my usual Friday links, I spent the day napping, reading, and eating leftovers. However, it was not my intention to take the entire weekend off from this blog, so here I am with some belated linkage and a two-part announcement/reminder.

Those of you who have frequented this blog for some time know that as NaNoWriMo comes to a close, I like to let participants know that, while I applaud and encourage your November writing efforts, I don’t want to see queries for them come the start of December. With very few exceptions, what you’re writing for your NaNo novel is a draft only — a first draft — and likely also too short to be considered a novel unless you’ve exceeded your 50,000-word goal. What you have is a starting point; please take that and finish it. Lengthen, reread, revise, send to critique partners, and revise some more. I’m happy to hear about your fabulous book, but only once you’re done making it fabulous.

The second part of my announcement is that for the past several years I’ve issued my own little writing challenge for the month of December. I like to encourage writers to take that NaNoWriMo momentum and run with it. Or, if you didn’t participate, to dig in during this busy month and find a way to develop new writing habits so that, when the new year kicks off with all its resolutions and goals, you’ll be well on your way to making them a reality. So look out for the official challenge post on Monday.

But now for the links. A little late, but hopefully no less enjoyable for it. Wishing you a lovely rest of the weekend. Happy writing!

Make It Now: The Rise of the Present Tense in Fiction – Interesting look at this growing trend.

Want to Be an Artist? First Go a Little Nuts – Korean novelist Young-ha Kim on letting creativity stem from play.

Podcast: Master Class with Winnie Holzman – A chat between screenwriters Winnie Holzman (MY SO-CALLED LIFE) and Jason Katims (ROSWELL, FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS).

Ever Wonder Why Americans of the 1930s and 40s Spoke with an Accent? – An intriguing peek at what is sometimes thought of as movie-speak.

Neil Gaiman on Storytelling in the Age of the Internet and Other Oddities – Gaiman talks about how storytelling has changed as a result of social media and other modern conveniences.

12 Authors You’ll Love No Matter Your Favorite Genre – Great list.

The Ultimate Guide to Getting Published in a Literary Magazine – A look inside the process, plus tips on navigating the system.

25 Outstanding Podcasts for Readers – Great places to hear about new books, new authors, and other reader-ish pleasures.

Friday Links: Setting Writing Goals and Leveling Up

Happy Friday! It’s been a ridiculously busy week, as evidenced by the crickets chirping around here, but I have several things planned for next week that I hope will make up for the quiet.

As I mentioned last week and a few times on Twitter, we’re into the final quarter of the year now, so it’s a great time to reassess your writing goals if you haven’t had the chance yet. It doesn’t need to be a big deal. If you made goals for the year, pull them out and see how you’re doing, where you might need to focus more time or effort, or — if you’re ahead of the game — change things around a bit to give yourself a challenge in the coming months.

If you didn’t make goals for the year, even easier. Think about where you are with your writing and what you would like to achieve before 2016 rolls around. Keep in mind holidays and such make this time of year busy, but don’t just let yourself off the hook and think you can procrastinate on all the big stuff until January. Break things into bite-sized pieces and figure out what you can tackle now, even if it’s just an aim to write a little each day. And don’t forget that National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is coming in November, a great way to recommit to your writing.

To help inspire you, I’ve got this week’s links, a broad range I hope you find intriguing and entertaining, and that might give you some ideas on how to level up with your writing. Enjoy, and have a wonderfully productive weekend!

Anatomy of a Discovery: How a Literary Magazine Editor Finds New Writers – Some food for thought for those of you submitting shorter work to the lit mags, or considering it.

53 Wonderfully Pointless Facts about the English Language – For a chuckle.

My Paradoxical Quest to Build a Personal Brand – More food for thought. Ever more pertinent, whether you’re writing novels or freelancing or just designing your blog.

Immigration, Dislocation, and the Search for Home – How immigration and the economy have affected one writer’s work, and outlook. Another good argument for reading diversely in a global sense.

Win a Writer’s Retreat in Iceland – Details for a scholarship covering flight and attendance to the April 2016 program.

Reading Material for Writers

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As promised, I’m back with further gift ideas for the writers in your life, with a focus on buying them things to read. You may, of course, choose to simply provide your special writer with an enormous gift card to the book retailer of your choice, and no doubt that will make them very happy. However, if you want to be a bit more specific and personal, here are a few recommendations to check out.

Certain writing-related books get named quite frequently. They are wonderful classics, and deserve to be mentioned, but you should also keep in mind that many writers already have dogeared copies of these babies. But for the sake of thoroughness, I’ll run through them:

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott — General writing advice mixed with personal history/anecdotes.

On Writing by Stephen King — Part memoir, part excellent writing advice.

Story by Robert McKee — On story structure, focusing primarily on screenwriting, but applicable to all fiction.

Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass — Advice on taking your writing to the next level.

These barely scrape the surface, of course, as books about writing seem almost as abundant as books in general some days. However, they are some of the most popular, and for good reason.

I also like to recommend the following writing-related books. Some are also well known, others less so, but I find they each offer good tips and inspiration.

Reading Like a Writer by Francine Prose — Thoughtful analysis on the reading process and how writers can learn from the works they read.

The Making of a Story by Alice LaPlante — A step-by-step guide focusing on short fiction, but applicable to all storytelling craft.

Story Engineering by Larry Brooks — Another way of looking at story structure.

The Write-Brain Workbook by Bonnie Neubauer — A huge collection of writing exercises to help get the words flowing.

The Elements of Style Illustrated by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White — The classic style guide, updated with fun illustrations.

Beyond books, subscriptions make great gifts for writers. They’re the gift that keeps giving all year long, plus in some cases they help the writer get a fix on what a certain publication is looking for so that they can in turn submit their own efforts. Here’s an assortment of both informational and entertaining periodicals for the various writers on your shopping list.

The Writer — A magazine filled with advice, interviews, and other information pertaining to the writing life.

Poets & Writers — A bi-monthly magazine focused on more literary writing, including fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, with an excellent list of upcoming contest deadlines, grants, etc., and annual issues dealing with MFA programs, writers’ retreats, and so on.

Publishers Weekly — The industry magazine for publishing. Much more business oriented than writing oriented.

Top 50 Literary Magazines – One site’s list of top literary magazines with links to each one. An easy reference to some of the most popular magazines currently published.

Asimov’s Science Fiction — Magazine for short science fiction, reviews, etc.

Apex – A magazine for science fiction, fantasy, and horror.

Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine — Publishes short crime and mystery fiction.

There are many, many additional publications available, especially if you are shopping for a reader open to digital subscriptions, as some online publications do not issue print copies. For writers who love their e-readers, another option is a subscription reading service such as Oyster or Scribd, which allows unlimited access to their library of books for a monthly charge. Be sure you know what type of e-reader the person has before making digital purchases, as some services are not compatible with older models.

Wishing you all happy shopping, and some great reading of your own!