Friday Links: Looking Back to Write Your Way Forward

Another Friday has crept up on us. It’s been a pretty intense week, filled with political strife and a few bombshells here in the U.S. I, for one, am looking forward to the weekend and stepping away from all forms of media for a bit, even though I know that might lead to a more startling Monday when I tune back in. But for my own sanity, I know I need to take a breather. And so I plan to do some personal reading, go for a run or two, and tomorrow I get to hang out with a client who is down with her family from Northern California for a few of days.

This week’s links are a kind of eclectic bunch, though I feel like some personal nostalgia inadvertently made itself known. I don’t plan these things; it’s just the sorts of links I happened to stumble upon. Nostalgia can be a good writing tool, as long as you don’t allow it to overtake your ability to be critical of your ideas. Regardless, I hope you find something intriguing in this lot and that you’re inspired to take a bit of time to yourself over the weekend to read a great book and/or work on your current writing project. Enjoy, and happy writing!

The True Story Behind Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler and Her Mixed-Up Files – An interesting look at what was one of my favorite books growing up, and how it came to be.

A 17th-Century Alleged Witch Inspired Margaret Atwood’s ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ – A look into some of Atwood’s thought process on her famous novel.

On the Horror of Getting It Wrong in Print – One writer shares her reactions to learning her errors have gone to press.

More Thoughts about World Building and Food – Lincoln Michel goes deeper into his thoughts on the notion of world building, with a link to his earlier piece included.

The Political Murakami on Life in a Dark Time – How Murakami views the worlld post-9/11, and how that dark viewpoint influences his writing.

6 Tiny Letters for Readers and Writers – I’m a fan of the Tiny Letters – those subscriptions on a theme (or not) that show up randomly when their author decides to share some thoughts – and this round up offers a few intriguing ones.

5 Things to Include on Your Author Website if You’re Not Yet Published – Handy tips for populating that blank author site.

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.

A Month for Verse

Poetry is truth in its Sunday clothes.

~Joseph Roux

Happy National Poetry Month! I don’t discuss poetry much here, mostly because I don’t represent it and I don’t want to confuse anyone. But as a reader, I love poetry, and I believe that writers of every stripe should read poetry as often as possible. It bends the brain in new directions, looks at the world through a different sort of lens, and sings to the soul in varying rhythms. Plus poets know all the best vocabulary words.

When I was seven or eight, my mother bought me a giant anthology of poetry geared for children but that included plenty of poems originally intended for adults. It was a giant hardcover off the dollar book table, with a torn book jacket, but we brought it home and my mother made a book cover out of some gorgeous old wrapping paper, and inside the pages were pristine and illustrated. Many of the poems had a narrative structure, or else a familiar rhyming pattern, or were only a stanza or two long. It was my first introduction to Emily Dickinson and Ogden Nash, to “Paul Revere’s Ride” by Longfellow and to many others, and it made an indelible impression.

I loved how much thought and story could be condensed into such a small package, how entire stories could reveal themselves in a few short paragraphs — while rhyming, no less, though I liked the poems that didn’t rhyme, too. And although I was already a reader who could happily devote entire days to curling up with a book, I appreciated the quick fix of poetry. I could finish reading an entire poem between the time my mother called me down to dinner and the time she actually expected me at the table. It was also easy to keep all the details of something that compact in my mind, to turn over and contemplate in a way I couldn’t with a full-length novel. A poem, once read, belonged to me in a way other reading material didn’t.

In fourth grade, my reading teacher announced a year-long introduction to poetry. Around our regular book assignments and free reading, we would be doing an ongoing poetry unit that basically consisted of standing before the class and reading a pre-chosen poem out loud. Once every couple of weeks, we would devote a class period to poetry readings. Kids would sign up to read ahead of time, choose their poem, and then when the time came, read it to the class. You didn’t need to memorize it, but you did need to read it through beforehand so that you wouldn’t stutter and stumble through it on the actual day. And even better, our teacher would be reading aloud, also. I can’t say I recall much of what the other students read, but I do remember the day our teacher read “The Highwayman” by Alfred Noyes (which I was later delighted to realize was in my own enormous poetry collection). The poem itself is highly dramatic, and she played it up to the hilt. I had no idea what a highwayman was prior to that day, had no idea poetry could make me feel anxious and put me on the edge of my seat. Even for someone who already enjoyed poetry, it was a revelation.

Not all my academic experiences with poetry were wonderful or inspiring. Poetry, like any kind of reading material, comes in all shapes and sizes. Some of it is difficult, like wading through quicksand. Some of it is plain incomprehensible. But the bug bit early enough, and firmly enough, that I never gave up. I went through all the typical adolescent experiences you might expect; scribbling poems in my journal, writing them for class assignments, editing them for the high school literary magazine. I took far more English classes than required for my university degree — taking both the mandatory courses and then using them for electives as well — and unsurprisingly, there were a fair number of poetry courses along the way. I added John Donne and Milton, Eliot and Bishop, Auden and Yeats to my list of loves, but also Margaret Atwood, Nikki Giovanni, and other living writers.

Outside the academic confines, it’s more difficult to discover “new” poetry — either classics I’ve yet to come across or modern writers, though certain standbys area always lurking on library shelves or well-stocked bookstores. Word of mouth, the internet, and the occasional literary magazine provide new names to check out. Some of my favorite recents finds were the result of an online writers’ loop where we instituted a periodic Poetry Day, and members shared poems and/or poets they love with the group. They introduced me to Denise Levertov, Anna Akhmatova, Sharon Olds…

Poetry still serves as a small escape. It is a treat, a pocket of peace in a sea of work and work-related reading. Sometimes I crave the beauty of a lyrical verse, sometimes the humor of something short and silly. It is an easy prescription, a quick getaway, a balm.

Do you read poetry? Does it affect your own writing? Who are your favorite poets? Who would you recommend?


Friday Links

Friday already? Not that I’m complaining… Well, perhaps I am. Just a bit. This week has flown by and I still have so much to do. I’m on quite the productive roll, however, so I will just keep plowing along and see how much I can accomplish.

Ever feel that way about your writing? Like you’ve got an excellent streak going and you just don’t want to stop for fear of it all drying up? Be sure to take advantage of those. Shut that internal editor right up and just write your heart out. Plenty of time to cross out and replace and tweak later on. Get the draft on paper; the rest can wait.

With those pearls of oft-said wisdom, I leave you with some links to kick off your weekend. Enjoy, and happy writing!

Hunting for Red October: Remembering Tom Clancy – I didn’t read much of his work; his books weren’t really my thing. But he had a huge talent and was an iconic figure in publishing for decades. RIP.

Did the Cat Eat Your Gymsuit? Then These Books Are for You – A look at Lizzie Skurnick’s new project to revive the young adult books of our youth.

Amazon Says France’s New Bill Is ‘Discrimination’ – New legislation aims to limit Amazon discounts in order to help bolster France’s independent bookstores. Personally, I’d say turnabout is fair play.

Document: Manuscript Pages of Great Expectations – Because I’m a lit geek through and through, and this is just cool.

What the Tea Leaves Said – Having trouble taking the leap and committing to your writing? Read this.


A Month of Letters

LetterMo2013postcard-227x300Last February, author Mary Robinette Kowal launched A Month of Letters, the idea being that you write one real letter or put one item in the mail every day the post runs during the month of February. Between the short month and the holiday, there are only twenty-three days of U.S. mail in February (fewer if you live in a country where there is no Saturday mail service). The challenge invites people to take a bit more time to craft a letter than they would if they were shooting off an email, to get back to the thought process involved when you know the recipient won’t see your note for at least a few days. It gives people a chance to reconnect on a different level. Besides, who doesn’t love getting real mail? Something that’s neither a bill nor a flyer trying to sell something, but instead an actual bit of communication from a friend or loved one.

A Month of Letters was a huge success, and many of the correspondence that began that February has continued on over the year. With another February looming, it’s the perfect opportunity to dust off your pens and stationery and think about writing to someone. The challenge website offers all sorts of suggestions on how to get started, and how to find people to write to if you’re looking for some new pen pals. For those of you interested in participating but scratching your heads about what to write, I offer up a few ideas:

  • Valentine’s Day cards
  • Book recommendations to your fellow bookworms
  • Snippets of poems you’ve read or written
  • Epistolary stories or novels, with a new installment sent each week (especially wonderful to send to children, who might never have gotten a real letter in the mail)
  • Descriptions of strange dreams
  • Old photographs
  • Sketches
  • Homemade bookmarks
  • Humorous stories about your pets
  • Discussion of travel plans, either practical or the ultimate dream vacation

Your letters can be long and rambling or short notes that simply tell someone they are in your thoughts. Be creative with your subjects and with the medium you use. Write by hand or rely on your typewriter. There are no rules, beyond mailing something each day and replying to the letters you receive.

Friday Links

Welcome to a brand new year! It’s been a bit slow around here these past few days. Well, more like I’ve been struggling to crawl out from under the pile of holiday e-mails that attacked me when I walked back in the door after my trip home for Christmas. The thing about getting back up to speed following a long vacation is that there often doesn’t seem to be much obvious progress for a while. It might be time to clean out a closet or something, so I get that sense of accomplishment that comes from noticing an actual difference.

However, I have scrounged up some fun and interesting links to kick off 2013, and I’m happy to share them with you here. Next week we will return to actual content, including talk of what everyone has planned for the new year in writing. Wishing you a wonderful weekend, and happy reading!

The Obscure Early Lives of the Artists – Or stalking Harper Lee. Either way, good read.

My New Year’s Resolution: Read Fewer Books – I’ve been known to panic over the idea that I’ll never read all the books I want to read, but I still thought this was an interesting look at the annual books-read tally.

Crews Remove Borders Sign from Flagship Store – A moment of silence, please.

North Polar Bear’s Leg Got Broken – Yesterday was J.R.R. Tolkien’s birthday, so in honor of that, a link to a 1925 Christmas letter, with illustrations, that the author wrote to his boys as part of their annual holiday tradition.

Experience Required: A Group of Writers – An entertaining tale about MFAs, writer’s groups, and late starts.

Links for Friday

Happy Friday, everyone! I am buried under tons of client reading right now, but I’ve still got some fun and educational links to share. Hope you enjoy them, and that you all have a terrific weekend!

London Bookshops Do Not Disappoint – A great look at some fabulous bookstores across London. These make me want to hop a plane…

Pub Sprawl – How various publishers are adapting for the new tablet market.

New York City Portrayed Online in 870,000 Images – Great resource for anyone researching NYC.

Sites We Like: Paper and Salt – A look at a website that celebrates and attempts to recreate the food described in literature, from diaries and letters to works of fiction.

The Ongoing Problem of Race in YA – An excellent article, and a good follow-up to my post earlier this week of Chimamanda Adichie’s Ted Talk.

Friday Links

Not only is it Friday, but this weekend marks two holidays — Passover and Easter (for those of you who aren’t Eastern Orthodox — our Easter is next week). Our office is technically closed both today and Monday, so I’m leaving you with these links and then scampering for parts unknown. Or, well, okay, for my couch with my laptop to read submissions. But I get to ignore phone calls and e-mail, so that’s a long weekend in my book.

Wishing you all a lovely weekend, whatever you are celebrating. Take some time to enjoy your family and friends, a good book, and maybe a little writing if you’re so inclined. Meanwhile, here are this week’s links:

Words I Couldn’t Use… – Ever wonder how the authors of historical novels keep their vocabulary period appropriate? Mary Robinette Kowal describes how she checked her word use for her Regency-with-magic fantasy series.

Why More Adults Are Reading Books for Teenagers – There’s been something of a debate about this topic going on this week. Here’s an interesting take, if only a very small part of the answer.

The Hobbit Illustrated by Maurice Sendak – On this long-lost edition that never was.

Things to Write About – Some interesting prompts and places to look for more.

The Greatest Bromances in Southern Literature – This just amused me.

Have You Seen This Short Story? – Talk about creative formatting…

A PSA about Mice – Author Erin Morgenstern shares where to get candy mice quite similar to the ones featured in her debut novel, THE NIGHT CIRCUS.

Friday Linkage

Happy Friday, all! It’s a busy, busy day, so I will link and dash. There should be a little something here for everyone. Wishing you all a lovely weekend. Enjoy, and happy writing!

Who Gave You That Book? – An interesting look at how book recommendations and gifts can influence our reading — or not.

Ten Quick Ways to Analyze Children’s Books for Racism and Sexism – Fabulous listing, whether you’re writing the books or reading them.

A Booklover’s Map of Literary Geography, circa 1933 – So much fun. I would love to track this down for my office.

The Art of the Sentence – Another wonderful sentence deconstructed over at the Tin House blog.

A Thoughtful Look at Fanfic – From author Seanan McGuire.

Sequels, Prequels, and Companions: Is it Fanfiction? – And another look at fanfic, from a very different angle.