Friday Links: Being Thankful

The importance of being thankful gets a lot of attention this time of year. With Thanksgiving next week here in the U.S., the subject has started coming up. The holiday brings some problematic historical baggage along for the ride, particularly in light of ongoing racial strife and feuding over immigration policies, but I prefer to focus on the sentiment of the word rather than pilgrims and turkeys. In difficult years, I think it’s more important than ever to consider what makes us grateful. Holding on to the good things gives us strength to push through all the rest. Especially when all the rest feels completely overwhelming.

Being Thankful fall image

In daily life, I tend to frame my gratitude as an afterthought. It comes out sort of like, “I gained so much weight this year, I have to stop sitting so much, but at least I can afford new clothes.” This probably isn’t the best approach. Being thankful should be a conscious choice. Taking a step back and considering what you appreciate in that moment. That has impact. When life ramps up and the world feels like it’s spinning faster, it makes a difference if you pause and think, “Hey, I accomplished this,” or “I’m so glad I got the chance to see so-and-so.”

So in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I thought I’d take a moment before posting this week’s links to list a few things I’m thankful for this year. No disclaimers beyond stating that it’s incomplete and a work in progress. As it should be.

I’m thankful for:

  • My family and friends, the whole crazy bunch.
  • That my parents are still alive and independent into their eighties.
  • My coworkers, who are always ready to chat books and publishing, and to trade information about our work.
  • My clients, with their talent and persistence and willingness to dig in cheerfully to make their wonderful stories even more wonderful.

On the smaller side of things, I’m thankful for a year of delightful books and movies–so many great discoveries. For entertaining writing challenges like NaNoWriMo and 4thewords, that keep ideas and words flowing. I’m grateful for the lovely spaces in my town that allow me to take a break and clear my mind. For houseguests and visitors. For writers conferences and other opportunities to travel and see new things. For relatively good health and a functioning car and an apartment I like.

Being thankful mostly feels like a small, quiet thing. But when you start listing all the things that come to mind–that bring you joy or relief or just allow you to function–it can feel much bigger. What are you thankful for today?

And on that note, I offer up this week’s Friday links. They’re kind of a mishmash, but I hope you find something entertaining. Wishing you a wonderful weekend, because I’m thankful for all of you. Happy writing!

This week’s links:

You Can’t Rely on Inspiration: Essential Writing Advice from J.G. Ballard. – Thoughts on writing and keeping the words flowing.

Writing Excuses on NaNoWriMo 2018. – The podcast offers up a mini episode with advice and encouragement.

7 Free or Cheap Writing Residencies to Apply for in 2019. – Pretty much as stated. For anyone looking to get away to write.

Applications Now Open for the Sesame Street Writers’ Room. – Information on how to apply before the December 3rd deadline.

Anyone Obsessed with British Authors Should Add These 4 Literary Destinations to Your Travel List. – Great spots to visit if you’re a fan of Jane Austen, the Brontë sisters, Virginia Woolf, and/or Agatha Christie.

Having No Time Is the Best Time to Get Writing Done. – An argument for being forced to write when you can squeeze it into the rest of your life.

Friday Links: Online Listening Edition for Podcast Fans

Happy Friday, everyone, and welcome to the online listening edition of Friday Links. This week I’ve been obsessing a bit about podcasts. I’m not a regular podcast listener. I don’t subscribe to any, and normally I end up streaming them from their websites rather than through iTunes or the like. My listening depends on my running across something interesting more than any adherence to a specific thing. Not to say I don’t enjoy them, because I do. But podcasts fall into the same category as audio books for me. If I am listening while doing something more complicated than driving or walking, I tune out. It’s just how my brain works. I’m more of a visual person. I like to read print. My mind wanders if I’m listening to something recorded without a corresponding image. But this week was a bit different.

microphone for online listening

It actually started with Audible, not with podcasts. I do have an Audible account and will listen to books while walking or driving more than 20 minutes or so. But Audible really got my attention by adding two additional freebies to membership. They now offer two downloads of Audible Originals per month, from a list of six titles they choose. No extra fee, no credits required. So suddenly I had more listening material at my fingertips. Mind you, I’m already working my way through The Three Musketeers (unabridged and over 20 hours), but I like having a variety. But then came the email from Danny Gregory about his latest podcast episode of Art for All–featuring an interview with Austin Kleon.

I believe firmly in branching out when it comes to seeking advice on a creative life. I like to dabble in arts and crafts and photography when I’m not nose-deep in a book. And I check out books or websites by various types of artists, as well. So I’m a fan of Danny Gregory, and Sketchbook Skool, the online art class platform he co-runs. I gave his newish podcast a try when it first started, but it didn’t really capture my attention. This week’s episode, however, was a different story. Gregory’s interview with Kleon covers so many aspects of the creative life. They discuss Kleon’s system of journaling, working on paper versus digitally, and his thoughts on why so many people are trying to turn their art into a career. So interesting, and relatable to many artistic endeavors.

Unlike many podcasts, this one wasn’t streaming from the landing page, so I ended up listening on iTunes. When I finished, I went scouting for more things to listen to and came up with a handful of other recommendations. They’re all related to books and/or writing and creativity, and I’m bookmarking for future listening binges. I’m also adding them here to the rest of this week’s links. I hope you find something fun to check out over the weekend for a bit of reading and writing inspiration. Enjoy!

Online Listening Links:

Art for All. – The main page for Danny Gregory’s art-related podcast focusing on the creative life.

The Librarian Is In. – A fabulous podcast run by the New York Public Library, featuring two very entertaining hosts, frequent guests, and diverse book recommendations.

Overdue. – A podcast where the hosts finally get around to reading (and discussing) those books that have been lingering on their TBR lists way too long.

Other PPL with Brad Listi. – An old favorite of mine; one-on-one interviews with authors.

First Draft. – Another favorite. Interviews with young adult and middle grade authors.

Lit Up. – More great author interviews.

What Should I Read Next? – A book rec podcast run by Anne Bogel, of the popular blog, Modern Mrs. Darcy.

A Few Other Links:

Romance Bookstore The Ripped Bodice Poised to Bring the Genre to Television. – Announcing the store owners’ deal with Sony TV.

Bloomsbury Group’s Countryside Hub Opens to Visitors Year-Round. – In case you’re making literary travel plans…

23 Book Cover Designers to Follow on Instagram. – Pretty much what it says.

Regency Rendezvous: Inside the World of Jane Austen Fandom. – For diehard fans, a chance to step into the period.

 

Friday Links: Vacation Land Edition

Greetings from vacation land! I’m oficially off this week, though unofficially still doing a few things here and there. My travels involve driving to see friends for the day and wandering around Los Angeles’s prettier sites, rather than jetting off to some hot spot. But even while vacationing, I think about writing and reading. I work in publishing for a reason, after all. So the blog marches on. Now that I’m getting back in the swing of posting, I don’t want to spoil my streak.

blogging-in-vacation-land

That said, this week’s links are on the sparse side. I have spent very little time online this week (see: vacation land) and so did not discover the usual wealth of tidbits to share. But I’m excited for the ones I found, so I hope you find them inspirational and informative.

Also, if you didn’t see it earlier this week, I posted my thoughts on marginalia and whether or not taking notes in the margins as you read a book can make you a better writer. I got inspired by Austin Kleon’s post on Reading with a Pencil. so check out Kleon’s thoughts and then see my take on the subject. Please feel free to comment about your own experiences with making notes while reading. I’m curious as to how many people still use marginalia as a way to engage with their books. And if you’re an e-reader, those electronic notes you can take on Kindles count, too (though I’m not sure Kleon would agree with me). I’ll respond to more comments on that post once I’m officially back to work.

I plan to do some housekeeping here in coming weeks, both in terms of agenting and more general information. Longtime readers probably know this blog is only partly work related. It houses writing and publishing tips, book talk, and so on. But I also keep my public face here, in many respects, and I might do more of that in the future. Meanwhile, I bring you links from vacation land. Wishing you a wonderful weekend and some good writing time. Enjoy!

This week’s links:

Tin House Is Accepting Unsolicited Submissions for 2019. – Guidelines for submitting to the literary magazine.

How to Write a Traditionally Published Book: A Behind the Scenes Look. – One writer shares her experience building a writing career.

All the New Fantasy Books Coming Out in September. – Tor offers a great list of books to add to that TBR pile.

Francine Prose: It’s Harder than it Looks to Write Clearly. – The writer offers advice on saying what you mean in a readable way.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: I Became Black in America. – The author discusses feminism, race, and perception in Nigeria and the U.S.

Margin Notes: Does Marginalia Make You a Better Writer?

Do you scribble margin notes in your books when you read? I never really adopted the habit of keeping marginalia, but this past week I read Austin Kleon’s post, Reading with a Pencil, so now I’m thinking about it. He claims marking up your reading material serves as a gateway to becoming a writer. It forces you to read with a writer’s brain. I can see why he says it, but I wonder if it’s true.

Stack of books with pencils

Margin notes felt wrong to me when I was a kid. My mother trained me early on not to write in books. She took me to the library weekly, so there was a specific logic in her insistence I treat the books well. It carried over into how I kept my own books. I recall going through a very brief period at about four when I underlined (in pencil) words I recognized. I say recognized rather than read because “kitten” isn’t difficult to pick out with the book is The Three Little Kittens. But I outgrew the habit quickly, probably about the time my mother realized what I was doing.

Through school, I took notes separately, in my notebook. Teachers handed out all of our textbooks at the start of the year and expected us to return them in good condition in June. The habit was so well ingrained that by college, when I was purchasing my books, it took conscious effort to highlight the text. Even then, I reserved margin scribbles and highlights for my math and science books. As an English major, I mostly read novels in thin-paged editions I tried to keep clean. Ink would have bled through those pages. Pencil would smudge and become illegible. Writing in them felt impractical.

But occasionally I’d come across books with margin notes. At the library, used bookstores, in a friend’s loan. I read enough literary criticism and biographies of authors including references to marginalia to become curious. What process of reading resulted in these small comments? So I decided to give it a try.

Armed with a few sharpened pencils, I crashed on the couch with my latest book and set to reading with a pencil in hand. But it wasn’t a particularly successful experiment. I’d get involved in the book and forget to make any notes whatsoever. Or, I’d grow so self-conscious about needing to take notes that my reading slowed to a crawl.

Looking back having now read Kleon’s post, I understand that the slow, thoughtful reading necessitated by making margin notes helps you read more closely. It forces you to analyze the text in a different way. But at the time, I tried to take notes more because I wanted to be a person who left witty comments in the margins than from a desire to read deeply.

Which brings me to my question. Does keeping marginalia automatically give you a leg up on becoming a writer? It no doubt makes you a better reader. You read more thoroughly, think through the narrative on a different level. You engage with the content. And the act of writing notes has been proven to help you recall what you’ve read. But is that the same things as reading like a writer?

I once read a book on how to write romance–maybe twenty-five years ago, so I can’t recall the title. The author recommended taking a favorite romance novel and marking it up with a color code. Plot development should be underlined in one color, characterization in another, action a third, and so on. I gave it a very brief attempt before giving up. First, writing is not that clear cut; sentences serve multiple purposes at once, so what color to choose? Second, the slow, frustrating task had me ready to throw my colored pencils out a window after less than a chapter. I’d never make it through underlining the book. Still, the process of trying to separate out those differen parts of the text showed how well the author had entwine them. It served as a lesson on book structure, which was ultimately the point.

Marginalia can include the reader’s thoughts on many aspects of the text. Looking through books with margin notes, you’ll find lovely quotes underlined, disgust expressed at purple prose, and comments on the sanity of the protagonist. Readers focus on whatever captures their attention, but not everything readers note will be helpful to their writing process. I’d argue marginalia can definitely be helpful to the developing writer, but that the most helpful marginalia occurs when the writer reads with that specific intention. A reader who reads for pleasure and happens to make notes won’t engage on the same level as one hoping to improve their writing.

What are your thoughts? Do you write in your books? Is it something you feel helps you understand how the author approached their work? I’d love to hear some other takes on the subject.

Friday Links: Labor Day Weekend Edition

Here in the U.S., we’re heading into Labor Day weekend, so it seems wrong to tell you all to spend the holiday weekend laboring. Of course, many writers consider writing time precious and to be hoarded, time to indulge rather than time spent working. I don’t know any of those writers personally, but they do exist. At the end of the day, even when you enjoy the process, writing takes work. So this week’s links focus more on ways to relax this holiday weekend. If you’re not blessed with a holiday on Monday, please do piggyback on ours and have some fun this weekend anyway.

Labor Day Weekend by a lake

Meanwhile at agenting central, I’m in reading mode, trying to finish up some things for clients before taking time off myself. I will be out of the office next week, though I’m sure I’ll pop up online. It’s my last gasp vacation before the long fall haul until the end of the year. September always kicks off the busiest season for me, even if summer was busy, too. I’m attending several conferences over the next few months, dates for which will appear shortly in my travel schedule here on the site. In addition, I’m planning to send some of you back to school. More details on that when I return from vacation.

Looking for bookish activities for your long weekend? I’ve got some reading-centrinc suggestions in the links, but also it’s a great time to head to the movies. So many book-inspired films are either in theaters now, streaming, or coming soon. If you haven’t seen Crazy Rich Asians yet, go now! I’m queueing up To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before on Netflix. I loved the book, just haven’t had a chance to watch the movie quite yet. Also, The Bookshop, based on the Penelope Fitzgerald novel, opens in NYC and LA this weekend, elswhere soon. And finally, Jack Ryan, the series based on the Tom Clancy character, starts streaming on Amazon Prime today. I know there are more; those are just off the top of my head.

So without further ado, I’ll get to the links. I wish you a wonderful Labor Day weekend, or just weekend in general, with time to sit back and relax. Enjoy!

This week’s links:

Deciding to Read More than One Book at a Time Has Made it Easier than Ever for Me to Meet My Reading Goals. – The reading habits of a book nerd. I’m totally onboard with this.

My Favorite Bit: Andrea Phillips Talks about Bookburners Season 4. – Are you a fan of serialized fiction? Check this out for a peek into this great series at Serial Box, plus discounts on some early episodes if you’re looking to get started.

Problematic Classics: Four Questions to Ask When Beloved Books Haven’t Aged Well. – An interesting look at how to address older works from a modern, more socially aware perspective.

Haruki Murakami On Parallel Realities. – The author discusses his new story in The New Yorker.

All the New Genre-Bending Books Coming Out in September! – Nice round up of titles that might appeal to a broad readership. (And an excellent reason to finish that August TBR pile and make room for new goodies.)

The Books Tayari Jones and Ann Patchett Say Remind Them of Fall. – Can’t wait for red leaves and sweaters? Pick up one of these titles to get in the mood.

 

Friday Links: Vacation Reading Roundup

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.

Vacation reading

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.

Friday Links: Some Writing Journeys

This week’s Friday Links include some writing journeys, because there is no single way to become a writer. Every writer follows their own path, and only through writing will you discover what works for you. So I’ve gathered a few essays and interviews with authors who share their particular journeys. I hope they inspire you and encourage you to keep writing, keep experimenting, to find your own road to success.

In addition, I’ve got the usual collection of interesting tidbits I’ve found this week. I hope you find them entertaining and/or intriguing. Have a wonderful weekend, and don’t forget to squeeze in some time for writing journeys of your own. Enjoy!

This Week’s Links:

Podcast with Jasmine Guillory. – Sarah Enni speaks to debut author Jasmine Guillory about her road to writing, and how she ended up writing a romance.

The Bodies of the Girls Who Made Me: Fanfic and the Modern World. – Author Seanan McGuire talks about getting her start through writing fanfic and the role fanfic plays in storytelling, writing, and representation.

Catherine M. Valente: Five Things I Learned Writing Space Opera. – The multi-published author discusses the things she learned writing her latest book.

In the Gap Between Writer and Reader, the Novel Come to Life. – An interesting look at how the reader’s perceptions color their experience of a book.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s Remains Rediscovered in Wine Cellar. – The poet’s remains, which had been moved at some point, have been relocated.

An Interview with Jamie Ford, Author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. – The author talks about writing his debut title, and  how it reads a decade later in light of the current political climate.

Your Pocket Guide to 10 Literary Movements. – A fun little reference for anyone looking to fill holes in their literary knowledge or acquire a bit of ammo for trivia night.

Friday Links: With No Theme Beyond Bookish Pursuits

Some weeks there’s just no theme other than bookish pursuits to connect the links I’ve collected to share with you. With a little work, I can generally find one; everything is reading and/or writing related, after all. But I’ll admit this week was long, and I’m likely working straight through the weekend, so I’m just going to throw the links out there and hope that will do. I wish you all a wonderful weekend, and some good writing and reading time along with whatever you have planned. Enjoy!

This Week’s Links:

Fresh Voices: 50 Writers You Should Read Now. – A great list of suggestions across various genres, both fiction and nonfiction.

The 7 Creepiest Manor Houses in Mystery. – Some great reads for those of you who enjoy mysteries set in creepy old houses.

The Paris Review Names a New Editor: Emily Nemens of The Southern Review. – This week’s announcement regarding the editor set to replace Lorin Stein, who left the journal after allegations of sexual misconduct.

These Writers Are Launching a New Wave of Native American Literature. – An introduction to some talented up-and-coming authors.

First Draft with Tomi Adeyemi. – Great podcast interview with debut YA author Tomi Adeyemi about her recently released CHILDREN OF BLOOD AND BONE and her journey to publication.

Does Having a Day Job Mean Making Better Art? – An interesting look at the life of the artist and what contributes to their creative output.

Here Are the Literary Guggenheim Fellows of 2018.  – Some talented writers on this year’s list. Worth checking them out.

Friday Links: A Reading Avalanche

My reading list seems to have morphed into a reading avalanche of late. I’d make a Hydra reference — read one thing and two more spring up in its place — but it actually feels more like the way the gold at Gringott’s multiplies and tries to crush Harry Potter when he breaks into the vault in the final book. I’ve got submissions, client projects, ARCs that have hit my desk, and of course, regular old books. It’s a fabulous wealth of riches, but I just can’t seem to get ahead of the flow.

So I’m sharing the wealth. I’ve been dutifully collecting links for weeks, many of which offer up lists of amazing sounding books to read. Time to get them out into the world (and close some of these endless tabs). It’s a holiday weekend here, so whether you’re celebrating Easter or Passover or something else or nothing at all, I wish you a bit of excellent reading time. Here are some suggestions for your TBR stacks, as well as the regular writing tips and so on. Happy holidays and here’s to wonderfully word-filled  days. Enjoy!

This Week’s Links:

7 Books about Different Writing Lives. – An assortment of books revealing varied facets of the writing life.

The Best Classic Novels for Beginners. – A panel shares their thoughts about the most accessible classics for anyone looking to give them a try or maybe get back to reading them.

21 Amazing New Books You Need to Read This Spring. – New releases either already on shelves or on the horizon.

25 Classic Crime Books You Can Read in an Afternoon. – Some shorter classics to curl up with when you have (or need) a few hours to yourself.

Hilary Mantel: “We Still Work to a Man’s Timetable and a Man’s Agenda.” – An interesting look at the author’s experiences coming up as a writer, and the treatment she received as a woman in the field.

How to Hide Exposition through Action. – When you can’t get away from the need to “tell” instead of “show.”

In Naomi Alderman’s Podcast, Listeners Walk into the Story. – NPR interviews the author about her podcast’s unusual, immersive story structure.

Visit London’s Radical Bookstores. – A guide to some great, diverse bookstores in London, whether you’re local or planning your next trip.

On Writing the Comics – and Queer Characters – We Need. – A fabulous conversation between Neil Gaiman and N.K. Jemisin.

21 of the Biggest Debut Books by Women, Winter of 2018. – Some terrific titles on here I’ve already enjoyed, with many more to add to the TBR stack.

Friday Links: Still Breathing Edition

For those of you wondering, I’m still breathing. I know things have been a bit quiet here lately. Apologies for the radio silence, but I’ve been snowed under — by paperwork and reading, not actual snow. I hope to have some wonderful things to share with you soon. In the meantime, I’ve a collection of links that are past due posting. My browser will be so happy when I close out these tabs.

These links are a bit all over the place, mostly because I’ve been gathering them for weeks. A couple are February-centric, but they certainly won’t expire, so I hope you’ll excuse them sneaking in here at month’s end. Wishing you all a wonderful weekend, filled with books and good writing time. Enjoy!

This Week’s Links:

2017 Locus Recommended Reading List. – A roundup of the best SFF from 2017, according to Locus magazine.

Should You Write What You Know? 31 Authors Weigh In. – Writers discuss the age-old advice and how true it is.

#ReadingBlackout: 28 Days of Books By and About African Americans for Black History Month. – A terrific selection, and certainly worth reading all year long.

I’m National Book Foundation Executive Director Lisa Lucas, and This Is How I Work. – LifeHacker focuses on Lisa Lucas in their “How I Work” series.

Applications Now Open for the $35,000 Academy Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting 2018. – Details posted for how to submit for the fellowships run by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Let’s Talk about the Fantasy of the Writer’s Lifestyle. – A look at the glamorous ideal of the writer’s life in comparison to reality.

15 Banned Books and Their Reasons for Censorship. – A look at how and why various books have been banned and the route from challenge to actual censorship of a title.

Nick Harkaway Tells Strange, Chilling Tales — and Has Devoted Fans. – An interview with the author discussing the secretive nature of his stories and how that limits the conversation about his work.

On Imitation. – An intriguing look at one writer’s experiences growing up and learning about influence and imitation and where the line gets drawn to make something your own.