Friday Links: A Celebration of Books and Booksellers

Today I wish to celebrate both books and the people who sell them. Independent Bookstore Day is tomorrow, and fall titles start hitting shelves in a few days. Reading good books takes some sting out of this ongoing pandemic, so what better time to praise all things bookish?

Independent Bookstore Day logo of a hand holding an open book.

 

What have you all been reading during this period of safer-at-home? I know not everyone can focus on books right now, but sometimes that means returning to old favorites or finding joy in poems or shorter books. I’m doing some rereading, myself. Old romantic mysteries by Mary Stewart. Humorous poetry I discovered as a child. But also new romances and women’s fiction. Fantasy as long as it stays well away from dystopian situtations. All mixed in with “homework” reading: how to be a better, more active ally to BIPOC people, and political titles about the state of our democracy. If that sounds like a lot, it hasn’t been. It’s been slow going, spread over months, with more books piling up on my TBR behind them at a rapid rate.

Fall always brings a wealth of new titles. I’m trying to keep my pre-orders at a minimum, simply because there are soooo many new books I want to read. But pre-orders are the way to go in this new pandemic economy. Let publishers know they should print copies of the books you’re looking forward to reading. Supply chains are still moving slowly, so reader interest helps publishers know where to make their best efforts.

Meanwhile, here are a bunch of links to give you ideas of what to read, and where to get your copies. Plus the usual writing/industry chatter. I hope you find something interesting and inspiring. Have a great weekend, filled with wonderful books and maybe a little quality writing time!

This Week’s Links:

Independent Bookstore Day. – A resource of online and in-store events taking place to celebrate independent bookstores across the country.

117 Black-Owned Bookstores. – A great resource if you’re looking to support Black-owned businesses. You can even check for stores in your own state.

The Importance of Bookstores During the Pandemic. – A lovely homage to bookstores and all they do for us, especially in difficult times.

Eight Trends in Book Cover Art, From Busy Botanicals to Women Walking Away. – As it says. Some beautiful examples, attached to some great reads. (I’m personally partial to the botanicals.)

Paris Stories: The Writing of Mavis Gallant. – A short film about the Canadian author and her approach to writing, with interview footage as well as the author reading samples of her work. Inspiring, plus a lovely bit of armchair travel.

Why It’s Not Empowering to Abandon the Male Pseudonyms Used by Female Authors. – A thoughtful look at the recent decision to release a number of books written by women including their birthnames over the pseudonyms they chose, and why this is not a simple situation.

9 Books about Disreputable Women by Women Writers. – Great books featuring the inside stories of women society labels disreputable.

The New California Curriculum. – An interesting look at what it means to be a California writer, and where these writers fit into the literary landscape as we reconsider what types of books should be considered “canon.”

Plotting Your Fantasy with a Bullet Journal. – One writer’s system for organizing their writing, plot, and world building.

We Need People Within Our Publishing Houses Who Reflect What Our Country Looks Like. – A great interview with Lisa Lucas, who will be leaving her post as head of the National Book Foundation at the end of the year to take on the role of publisher at PRH’s Pantheon and Schocken Books.

Friday Links: The Edge of Vacation Edition

I’m about to hang up my out-of-office shingle for the holidays, so I’m sneaking these links in under the wire. As with last week, they don’t follow much of a pattern. They’re just things I’ve stumbled across and wanted to share with you all. I hope they inspire a bit of writing, some great reading, and maybe a little literary wanderlust. Wishing you a wonderful weekend. Don’t forget to get your words in!

This Week’s Links:

Our Favorite 50 Books of the Year. – Courtesy of LitHub. Because apparently I’m still a sucker for another bookish “best of” list.

History and SFF: Historical Sources and N.K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth Trilogy. – A look at how history can serve fiction when it comes to world building.

36 Hours in King’s Cross London. – A peek at the area around the famous train station, for Harry Potter fans, Anglophiles, and armchair travelers of all sorts.

Walking through the House Where Louisa May Alcott Wrote Little Women. – More March-family madness in anticipation of the release of the latest film version of the classic story.

Books off the Beaten Path: 15 Small Press Reads If You Want Something Different. – Pretty much what it says on the label. A nice cross section of titles from a some smaller publishers.

Friday Links: A Mishmash of Inspiration for Your Weekend

Happy Friday! Hard to believe we’re halfway through November. For those of you diligently toiling at NaNoWriMo, I hope you’re making excellent progress. Actually, I wish you all excellent progress, no matter what you’re working on.

The weekend looms, however, and so I offer you this advice. Don’t forget to take a little break. Yes, I know you have words to write. I know you have work and family and other obligations. But take time to recharge a little. Read something fun. Go outside. Rekindle a hobby that’s fallen by the wayside. The rest of the year will only get busier, so take a moment to breathe while you can.

I hope these links provide a little inspiration and maybe some useful information. It’s a mishmash–something for everyone. Have a terrific weekend, and happy writing!

This Week’s Links:

Shelf Mythology: 100 Years of Paris Bookshop Shakespeare and Company. – This month marks the 100th anniversary of the famed Parisian bookstore. The Guardian offers a nice little history of the shop.

The Secret Society of Women Writers in Oxford in the 1920s. – A look at a group of women writers who supported each other in their literary efforts and ambitions considered inappropriate for women of their time.

Go Beyond Sally Rooney with These 13 Irish Women Novelists. – A nice roundup of titles you might consider for your TBR pile.

What Makes Good Comfort Food? Writers in Conversation. – Everyone always asks the literary dinner party question. What authors, deceased or living, would you invite to a literary dinner party? No one asks what everyone would eat. This seems to remedy that.

Reedsy Plot Generator. – For anyone needing a jumping off point for a new project or something to inspire a new tangent. It’s a fun exercise to help you run through a bunch of ideas fast and works across genres. With thanks to Yvonne Shiau for bringing it to my attention.

For N.K. Jemisin, World-Building Is a Lesson in Oppression. – Check out this world-building workshop that addresses the structural forces that lead to inequality.

Kurt Vonnegut’s Advice for the Impatient Writer. – Some wise (and often tongue-in-cheek) thoughts for anyone frustrated with various aspects of their writing career.

Friday Links: Writing Foundations

Every writer’s work develops from their writing foundations, their earliest impressions as young writers and readers. Although new experiences always add to the writer’s perspective, nothing is so formative as those first encounters. This week’s links focus on the usual range of topics, but several include interviews with authors talking about their writing identity and early influences. Consider your own favorite books that inspired you to write, or life events that might affect your writing themes. Sometimes knowing the questions that fascinate you can help you dig more deeply into the story you wish to tell.

As always, I hope this week’s links leave you feeling excited to write. Wishing you a wonderful weekend, with some time to read, write,  and maybe to investigate your own writing foundations. Enjoy!

This week’s links:

On the 13 Words that Made Me a Writer. – Author Sofia Samatar talks about her youthful obsession with fantasy and how it inspired her.

When Your Imposter Syndrome Is Out of Control. – Everyone feels unsure about themselves at some point. A great reading list to help fight self-doubt.

The Crack Squad of Librarians Who Track Down Half-Forgotten Books. – A look at those talented folks who help find that book you can’t quite remember.

Jason Reynolds: “What’s Unusual about My Story Is that I Became a Writer.” – The multi-published author discusses how his early experiences led him to write books that wouldn’t bore his audience.

Writing Wisdom from Guest Author Maureen Goo. – The YA author talks about her approach to writing.

Five Books about Unconventional Pirates. – Because I have a pirate thing, okay? And everyone’s TBR stack should have a pirate book on it.

Reading Horror Can Arm Us Against a Horrifying World. – NPR looks at horror as a way to make sense of reality.

Friday Links: Dog Days Inspiration

August heat calls for some dog days inspiration to get anything accomplished. When the temperatures climb, it’s hard to self-motivate. It can feel like your brain is melting out your ears. So I hope today’s links provide some distraction from the weather, whether you’re roasting along with me, or freezing with my friends in the southern hemisphere.

Dog Days Inspiration: dogs walking on a sunny beach

It’s nose to the grindstone in my neck of the woods, with fingers crossed that my AC keeps working, too. Today through the weekend I’m in reading mode, with two client projects on my desk and a stack of submissions queued up. I’ll have some status updates next week, along with a couple of exciting announcements. Meanwhile, I offer up some great links for you to check out. I hope they help you put your writing caps on and get down to work. Have a great weekend, and happy writing!

Dog Days Inspiration:

How to Keep Plot Twists Fresh. – Author David Bell offers tips on how to keep your thriller surprising. Helpful even if thrillers aren’t your thing.

Dear Suzanne Brockmann.Last week I linked to Suzanne Brockmann’s RWA speech; this letter from author Nicki Saledo offers a heartfelt response and an important personal take on diversity and inclusion in publishing.

Building a SciFi Future that Matters: Five Authors Share their Worldbuilding Strategies. – Really interesting look at different approaches to building a futurescape.

Radical Writing: Was Angela Carter Ahead of Her Time? – Discussion of the late author and the upcoming documentary on her life and innovative work.

“Write a Sentence as Clean as Bone” and Other Advice from James Baldwin. – Writing tips from the late author, who would have been 94 this week.

John Green Wants You to Read Tiny Books. – An explanation of the small book format (Flipbacks) popular abroad that is finally coming to the U.S., in part thanks to author Green. I’m curious to see if these catch on. Think how many more books will fit on your shelves!

Foreshadow, issue zero. – The launch of the new online anthology featuring YA short fiction by both new and established authors. Great reads by a diverse collection of writers.

Friday Links: Holiday Writing Inspiration

Everyone can use some holiday writing inspiration, and this marks the start of my annual pep talks for the season. We’re heading into Thanksgiving here in the U.S., and from there it’s one occasion after another until New Year’s. I run a December Writing Challenge each year, but I encourage you to schedule your writing all through the holidays.

Check out this week’s links for industry information, ideas on characterization, and ways to drum up that holiday writing inspiration. And keep an eye on this space for more writing challenge information coming soon. Enjoy, and happy writing!

This Week’s Links:

It Is Okay to Change Paths. – Bestselling author Tess Gerritsen talks about changing her career from doctor to writer.

Paper is a wonderful technology. – Austin Kleon shares how an exhibit at the Ransom Center inspired him to embrace his paper notebook.

Ilana Masad on the Shrinking of the Industry, Literary Social Media, and Hidden Criticism. – The writer and podcast host discusses how social media has changed literary criticism, and other shifts in the industry from a reviewer’s point of view.

50 Noteable Works of Fiction in 2017. – The Washington Post weighs in on some of the best titles of the year.

Inside the Dystopian Visions of Margaret Atwood and Louise Erdrich. – At a time when Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale serves as a sort of feminist dystopian bible, Erdrich adds her own take on the idea of reproductive slavery.

Marvel’s Black Panther Rules. Literally. – A wonderful interview with actor Chadwick Boseman, with excellent thoughts regarding how characters build from the setting and politics of a fictional nation in this installment in the MCU.

Tor.com Reviewers’ Choice: The Best Books of 2017. – Another best-of list, with some great titles for your own TBR or gift-buying lists.

A Night at the National Book Awards. – A look into what may by the shiniest event in the U.S. publishing world.

 

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: Reading and Writing with a Broader World View

Happy Friday, everyone! This week I’m stepping back and taking a look at the larger scope of the world when it comes to writing and reading. How do recent events affect how we view the world, how we write our stories, how we consider our readers, and how we choose what to read ourselves? We can look back and see clearly how the prevalence of fantasy and darker paranormal seemed to grow up around harder economic times, and that the rise of dystopian literature appears to have been a precursor of the current political climate. So what happens now?

I’m not claiming to be drawing any conclusions with this week’s links, but many do play into this theme and I think it’s something to consider going forward. It’s early days yet, but I’m sure the writings of our time will reflect much of this current turmoil eventually, as well as whatever follows. Food for thought going into the weekend. I wish you lots of excellent time to read and to write, and  hopefully a bit of inspiration. Enjoy!

Fantasy Is about Power: An Interview with Lev Grossman – A talk with the author of The Magicians trilogy, about the books, and about the TV series based on them that just began its second season.

Translation — and Migration — Is the Lifeblood of Culture – A look at how the mix of ideas and cultures from different nations serves to influence and develop imagination everywhere.

On Dracula’s Lost Islandic Sister Text – On this mysterious, altered version of Stoker’s classic work.

“It’s Going to Be Darker. And that’s OK.” Neil Gaiman on Trump, Brexit, and the Death of Social Media – Gaiman discusses the new series based on American Gods and considers what it means to create art in troubled times.

50 Must-Visit Beautiful Bookstores on Six Continents – See the world, buy some books.

Waterstone’s, the UK’s National Bookstore, Came Back from Near-Death by Transforming into Indie, Local Stores – How the new mastermind behind the chain turned the tide, proving it’s still possible to get readers into bookstores.

What’s the Next Big Dystopian Novel? Margaret Atwood Has some Ideas – The author of The Handmaid’s Tale, which has gained new popularity between current politics and the series soon to debut on Hulu, talks dystopian literature and book trends.

How to Escape the Slush Pile: A Self-Editing Checklist for Short Story Writers – Excellent tips, some of which apply to any writing.

Friday Links: Creative Outlets for Difficult Days

It’s been a tense week filled with terrible news, here in the U.S. The sort that makes you want to hold your loved ones a little closer and try to be a little kinder to everyone you meet, even as you wonder how there can be so much pointless hatred out there. I hope this week’s links provide a little distraction and maybe some inspiration. Creating something meaningful isn’t the worst way to try to combat the ugliness in the world. Of course, sometimes the world drains you of every creative impulse, in which case escaping into a good book can offer a brief respite, if that’s what you seek.

Wishing you all a safe, sane, enjoyable weekend.

On the Genius of Yuri Herrera’s Character Names – One translator looks at the meaning behind an author’s choices.

12 Bookstores Every Reader Should Visit in Their Lifetime – Some gorgeous photos to inspire your next book-related travel plans.

Why Setting a Historical Romance Outside of England Is Risky Business – The strange reality of sales figures in this particular sub-genre.

Modern Witches Are So Much More Than Just Mothers/Maidens/Crones – A look at more recent roles for this standard archetypal character.

The Great Second-Half 2016 Book Preview – A rundown of a huge number of highly anticipated titles due to release during the second half of the year. By no means exhaustive, but it has something to tempt just about everyone.

Life Behind the Stacks: The Secret Apartments of New York Libraries – A peek into the world of the former library caretakers of NYC.

10 Mistakes (Almost) Every Rookie Writer Makes: Part 2 – A continuation from the previous list, with some great tips to keep in mind.

Friday Links: Combatting Cabin Fever

Happy Friday, everyone! It’s been an insanely busy week here, so I apologize for being a bit quiet on the inter-webs. Sometimes you just have to put your head down and plow forward. And of course, with spring in full bloom here in the northern hemisphere, I’m aware that I, like everyone else, am struggling with a certain level of cabin fever. The birds are even now chirping outside my office window and it’s very tempting to just go play outside.

When I’m feeling this sort of pull, I resist it by reminding myself that the nice weather will still be there come the weekend… or whenever things quiet down to normal levels. Or I give myself lines in the sand; do everything on this list and then you can wander down the block to Starbucks for an hour of fresh air and caffeine injections. But it also helps to be engrossed in what I’m working on. The lure of a lovely day feels much less tempting if I’m reading a wonderful manuscript or helping make a project better. It’s all relative.

With this in mind, I’ve got a mishmash of links for you today that I hope help to combat your own cabin fever and allow you to put in a bit of reading and writing time. Plenty of things to think about and get you into gear. Enjoy!

Around the world in 18 science fiction and fantasy novels – A nice roundup for some serious armchair travel.

Interrogating Sentimentality with Leslie Jamison – On the line between writing that’s emotional and writing that’s overly sentimental or saccharine.

Download 67,000 Historic Maps – An open collection of high resolution maps available from Stanford University’s David Rumsey Map Collection. Great for research.

On the Heartbreaking Difficulty of Getting Rid of Books – Most of us know this problem. An interesting look at an author’s experience with trying to apply the Marie Kondo tidying method to her bookshelves, proving that not all systems work for all people — or at least not precisely as intended.

Whit Stillman Returns: “Sometimes it’s good to blow through all your deadlines.” – The director of Metropolitan tackles Jane Austen’s Love and Friendship.

Authors, Get Thee to Social Media: Explaining the Rise and Rise of YA Books – Intriguing article with some great points about social media (though this is obviously not the entire driving force behind the success of YA).

Knausgaard in Chicago: “I Don’t Want to Write about Myself Anymore.” – The author known for his mammoth multi-volume work of autobiographical fiction talks about literary ambition and success with Sheila Heti.