Friday Links: Late-Night Fly-By Edition

Sneaking in a little late this evening for a quick edition of Friday Links. It’s been a weird week for everyone, trying to keep all the wheels turning while battling the stress and anxiety of recent events. I did not want to forgo posting this week’s links, however, because routine is important. So here’s a pocket of normal in the middle of the insanity.

First off, if you didn’t see my post earlier this week, please check it out now and join us for the Virtual Writing Cruise. We kick things off tomorrow with a virtual happy hour. Just sign up for The Creative Academy — membership is free — and you’ll be able to RSVP for any of the workshops that interest you. Please do click those buttons, however. We want to make sure the room tech can handle everyone who wishes to attend.

Now on to the rest of the links. Like last week, these are a little more random than usual, things designed to distract and entertain. Enjoy!

This Week’s Links:

The Value of Owning More Books Than You Can Read. – A look at why you shouldn’t feel guilty about the state of your TBR stack.

Winchester Mystery House Virtual Tours. – Take a virtual tour of this bizarre building, offered temporarily while the house is closed to in-person visitors.

Harry Potter: A History of Magic. – The British Library presents this virtual tour of the popular exhibit.

Ellen Datlow Recommends 13 Dark & Creepy Books to Read in the Time of COVID-19 (That Are Not Apocalyptic). – Pretty much as described.

Personal Data: Notes on Keeping a Notebook. – So many writers are revisiting the idea of keeping a journal or notebook in the midst of the pandemic, I thought this slightly older piece might be of interest.

 

Virtual Writing Cruise Setting Sail, March 28th!

None of us are heading to a writer’s conference any time soon. Spring vacations are canceled. Writers everywhere find it difficult to focus. But your muse is not lost, just in need of a creative boost! Join me, and a faculty of terrific publishing professionals, for a week of virtual cruising and writing inspiration.

The Creative Academy Virtual Writing Cruise presents a full lineup of online workshops and Q&A sessions, plus daily writing sprints to get you back in the groove. All workshop sessions will be recorded and available later as part of the community’s resources, so sign up even if you can’t attend live. Both Academy membership and the cruise itself are free.

We kick off Saturday, March 28th, with a virtual happy hour! Courses over the week range from craft to research to the business side of publishing. I hope to see you in my query workshop, Friday, April 3rd, at 11 am PDT.

Why are you still here? Go sign up!

Friday Links: Shelter at Home Edition

As of last night, the entire state of California is sheltering at home unless involved in some essential activity. Since I live in the Los Angeles area, this was pretty much what I was doing already. Except for a very brief run to my local bookstore last Sunday, I’ve only left the house for groceries and to pick up my mail for the last 12 days. But knowing 40 million people are in the same boat? Kind of feels a little weird.

That said, plenty of cars have passed my window this morning and I can hear someone down the street with a leaf blower. I am not sure what is considered essential, but I somehow don’t think landscaping makes the list. We’re in this weird in-between place where we have to weigh people’s employment and ability to earn a paycheck against everyone’s health. And while the situation brings out the best in so many people who are offering up forms of assistance, it brings out the worst in a lot of people too. I predict a long haul.

On that note, I’ll have some new things up here next week that I hope will offer distractions from the larger world issues. I’m not saying you all should be super productive at the moment; we’re all dealing with trouble focusing and anxiety and a slew of other problems. But for those of you interested in finding ways to fill some time, or to polish up some skills, I aim to please.

But of course it’s Friday, which means links. Not a ton this week, as I’ve been rubbernecking virus news right along with the rest of you. There’s some fun/interesting stuff, though, so I hope you get a little inspiration. Don’t forget about this weekend’s 24 in 48 readathon–officially #StayHome24in48. Very informal. Join in if you can. Otherwise, stay home and stay safe!

This Week’s Links:

Interlude: So Your Book Launch Has Been Canceled. – Great tips for writers struggling with canceled book events, trying to get word out about their work, etc. Keep in mind the situation keeps evolving, so cross reference against your location/severity of restrictions.

Tolstoy Together. – An online read-along of War and Peace. It started a few days ago, but they’re only doing about 12 pages a day, so there’s time to catch up.

12 Museums with Virtual Tours. – Pretty much what it says on the box, plus a link to a list of other museums with online resources. Great for a bit of downtime, education, armchair travel, or research.

7 Prolific Women Authors with More Than 10 Books. – Take some time to really catch up with an author’s works with a deep dive into entire backlist.

Creative Academy for Writers. – Previously a paid membership platform, The Creative Academy has recently dropped the paywall. They have a considerable backlog of writing and marketing advice, so check them out.

Friday Links: The Plague Edition

I opened Twitter this morning to a post that included a photo of Daniel Defoe’s A Journal of the Plague Year. In the midst of concerns about COVID-19, we turn to eighteenth-century fiction. Or maybe it’s just a reflection of who’s on my Twitter feed. Bookish people like books. Even when the news threatens us with a pandemic.

I’m not making light of the concerns about coronavirus. I find it just as alarming as everyone else. But it’s also depressing to hear about the cancelation of the London Book Fair, and to get emails about vendors supplying employees with laptops so they can work remotely. Friends are backing out of plans to avoid public transportation. Companies are suspending work-related travel.

You’ve all heard the advice. Wash your hands well and often, don’t touch your face, etc. But I’m here to offer up some ideas to keep you entertained while you’re avoiding that crowded movie theater or your local happy hour this weekend. Because staying home means more time to write, and to read. (You knew that’s what I was going to say, right?)

I’ve got some terrific lists of books to check out, plus some general writing advice and industry gossip this week. So plump up the sofa cushions, grab your laptop or e-reader, and enjoy. Happy writing!

This Week’s Links:

20 New Books to Read in March. – A ton of wonderful-sounding titles hitting shelves this month, so check a few of these out.

8 YA Sci-Fi and Fantasy Novels to Pick Up This March. – More fun reads, specifically for fans of YA SFF.

Top 10 Writing and Grammar Mistakes that Even Published Writers Make. – Excellent list of things to check for when you do that last pass on your manuscript.

Aaron Sorkin on How He Would Write the Democratic Primary for ‘The West Wing.’ – Less about politics and more about Sorkin’s approach to writing in general. There’s a particularly interesting bit on what interests him in terms of writing conflict.

Are Novelist Obliged to Tell the Story of Their Private Life? – Interesting read in the age of #MeToo and #OwnVoices.

52 Books for 52 Places. – Intended as a tie-in for the NYT article on places to travel, it’s also a great list for some armchair traveling if you don’t want to leave the house.

10-1/2 Commandments of Writing. – A good refresher of some basic things to keep in mind while you’re hermitting away with your work-in-progress.

When Did Reading Books Become So Competitive? – A look at the age of reading challenges and bookish social media.

Announcing the 2020 Women’s Prize Longlist. – The 16 books that made the long list for this year’s Women’s Prize for Fiction.

Friday Links: The Leap Year Edition

This week’s Friday Links decided to leap over to Saturday, courtesy of my insane schedule. I considered skipping the post entirely, but I missed last week and guilty feelings won out. No great unifying theme, however. Just a bunch of things I’ve come across and found interesting, informative, and/or entertaining.

Is anyone doing something special with the extra day this year? I love the idea of considering February 29th a bonus day–one you get to spend at will. I’m devoting my day to a project that I’ve been trying to squeeze into my regular calendar for way too long. Fingers crossed I can make some huge progress.

Wishing you a wonderful Leap Day, whatever you choose to do. Enjoy!

This Week’s Links:

Wired’s 13 Must-Read Books for Spring. – Some fun titles to consider adding to your TBR.

The New Wave of Fantasy: How Millennial Authors Are Transforming the Genre. – A quick round table with four prominent young fantasy writers.

The Man Responsible for Cut/Copy/Paste Has Died. – A brief acknowledgement for the passing of Larry Tesler, who made the lives of many writers easier.

Author’s Guild Releases Grim 5-Page Report on “The Profession of the Author in the 21st Century.” – Not great news, but really, it’s never been great news.

A Library Story. They Say Everyone Has One. – A lovely, uplifting read about the good libraries do.

Open Access Image Libraries: A Handy List. – A helpful roundup of the libraries currently making collections of images available for open use through their websites.

Confessions of a Hate Reader, or Bad Writing Habits I Picked Up from Bad Criticism. – Takes a look at the difficulties of creating with a laundry list of “shouldn’t”s in one’s brain.

 

Friday Links: Happy Valentine’s Day Edition

Valentine’s Day puts me in a quandry. In my heart I consider it a retail holiday, designed to sell chocolates, flowers, cards, and fancy dinners. But I also represent quite a few romance writers, and I love a good love story. So there you have it. Whichever way your belief system lands, wishing you a lovely day. And hopefully some good chocolate and an even better book.

In light of the holiday, I did find some suitably romantic links. And a bunch of other stuff, too, for those of you frowning at me. I think it’s a good roundup with something for everyone, so I hope you get inspired to write something great. If you’re more in the mood to curl up with a good read this weekend, I’ve got you covered, as well.

Happy writing, happy reading, and a very happy Valentine’s Day to all. Enjoy!

This Week’s Links:

Celebrating Valentines with Our Favorite SFF Ships. – The folks at Tor/Forge share a few romances from SFF land.

17 Books that Will Make You Believe in Love. – BuzzFeed has you covered.

23 YA Romance Novels that Are Better than a Candlelit Dinner. – BuzzFeed again, but for the young adult crowd (and those who like to read about them).

Quiz: Find the Perfect Shakespeare Quote for Your Valentine. – What it says on the box. Fun for those of you who like to handwrite your cards.

Voices of Change. – A talk with authors Tomi Adeyemi, Akwaeke Emezi, Elizabeth Acevedo, Angie Thomas, and Nic Stone about the (slowly) diversifying landscape of young adult fiction.

RWA 2020: No Ending in Sight, Just Hollow Women. – A thorough update from the folks at Smart Bitches about the mess at Romance Writers of America.

Season of the Witch: The Rise of Queer Magic in YA SFF. – A look at how more diverse young adult fiction is queer without relying on coming-stories, particularly in the SFF realm.

How Obama’s Reading Shaped His Writing. – A bookseller looks at President Obama’s relationship to bookstores and writing.

Shelf Life: Anne Enright on the Five Books that Made Her. – The Booker Prize-winning author talks about the books she believes helped make her a writer.

Friday Links: Writers On Writing (and Reading)

I sifted through the links I discovered this week and found many focused on writers discussing writing. Normally, I need to hunt for these sorts of links to share. They appear mostly on niche sites. This week, for whatever reason (and I could speculate), the world is discussing narrative. Points of view. Truth versus fiction. Who should have a voice. I love that so many writers have joined in, whether to tell personal stories or to share a wider perspective. Regardless, I’m pleased to pass along these interesting stories, as each offers up some wonderful food for thought to take back to your own efforts.

Next weekend I’m heading off to Utah to teach at the Futurescapes Workshop. In case you missed it, I posted yesterday about how to attend my masterclass there if you’re in the neighborhood.

This weekend, however, I’m nose down in a client manuscript, plus a pile of submissions. I’ve closed the query box temporarily, because I was a bit behind from the holidays and then more than 400 of you queried me in January. That’s not even counting partials/manuscripts I’m trying to get through, so I’ve shut the gates. I plan to reopen on the 21st, once I’m back from the workshop and a bit caught up.

In the meantime, wishing you all a wonderful weekend, filled with good reads and some productive writing time. Enjoy!

This Week’s Links:

How to Write Fiction When the Planet Is Falling Apart. – Author Jenny Offill discusses her new novel, which addresses climate change.

Screenwriter and Novelist, Turned YA Author, Christopher J. Moore: Author Spotlight. – An interview with the talented, versatile writer.

Women Writers Are Driving Philadelphia’s Literary Renaissance. – An interesting look at the group of authors leading the recent surge of notable books from the Philadelphia area.

A Year in the Life: 2019. – Author Roxane Gay shares her annual roundup of books she’s read and things she’s written in the past year.

I Don’t Want to Be the Strong Female Lead. – Filmmaker Brit Marling talks about the difference between male- and female-centric stories, and what gets lost when women replace men at the head of a traditional quest narrative.

The Secret Feminist History of Shakespeare and Company. – A look at the life of Sylvia Beach, original owner and driving force behind the bookstore. I’m not sure how much of a secret it all is, but it’s definitely interesting.

The Great Vision of Houston’s Arte Público Press. – A brief history of the publisher’s efforts to bring Hispanic authors ignored by mainstream presses out into the public’s eye.

Futurescapes Workshop: Masterclass

I’m excited to be teaching at the Futurescapes Workshop in Utah again this year. The workshop itself is full, but masterclasses have been opened up to the public. If you’re in the Provo area, I’ll be teaching my First Pages class on Sunday, February 16th. Find full registration details HERE. Class runs from 9am to 10:30am at the Provo Marriott Hotel and Convention Center.

First Pages: What Keeps Agents Reading

Grab your reader from the beginning. It’s great advice, but what does it mean in practice? And even more important, what does it mean in your manuscript? While it might be easy to recognize a fabulous beginning in a favorite novel, it can be difficult to determine what works in your own writing, especially after a few drafts where nothing seems to pop. Join me to learn what elements make for a compelling opening, what I look for in the first pages of a manuscript to keep me reading, and how to avoid the mistakes that most typically negate a fabulous first paragraph.

Because the workshop itself focuses on science fiction and fantasy writing, the masterclass does skew in that direction. However, the lessons taught apply to writing the opening for any novel. Hope to see some of you there!

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.

New Year on the Way: Writing Goals for 2020

A new year looms right around the corner, so consider spending a few minutes each day thinking what you’d like to accomplish. I’m not a huge fan of traditional resolutions. Making lofty promises to turn your life around come January never ends well. Most resolutions vanish by mid-February. But goals? Goals are a different thing entirely.

Setting goals gives you milestones to hit over the course of the year. Big goals can have an enormous impact. Smaller goals provide a sense of achievement as the year progresses. Below I’ve outlined some tips for determining what goals will work best for you, and things to remember while you’re planning out your year.

Choosing Goals:

Keep in mind that goals should be something you have control over. It’s lovely to say you want to be traditionally published in the new year, but some of those steps might be out of your hands. Instead, set goals that can lead you in that direction but are up to you. You might set goals to revise your manuscript, to research agents, and to write a strong query letter. If you’re just starting out, your goal might be to complete a first draft of your novel, to take a class, or to make a list of prompts to use for daily writing sprints. Adapt your goals to where you are in your writing career, and what you’d like to achieve.

How Many Goals Do You Need:

The number of goals you set should fit your ambitions and your schedule. If you’re holding down a day job, raising kids, and/or looking out for elderly parents, you might have less time to devote to your writing than you’d like. Be realistic in setting your goals. Challenge yourself, but don’t ask so much of yourself that you become frustrated. Maybe you want to focus on several small goals instead of a couple of larger ones. Or take one major goal and break it into smaller parts.

A good way to set goals is to spread them out over the year. You can have a goal for January through April, and then another, smaller goal for May, and maybe a third one that runs the remainder of the year. Tailor your goals based on their difficulty, and also what’s going on in your life. If summer gives you more writing time, you can give yourself a couple of extra goals for June through August.

Figure Out the Steps:

Don’t set a goal and expect to magically achieve it. Figure out what steps you need to take in order to get where you wish to be. Break it down. How many hours will you need? Assign them on your calendar. Instead of waking up in the morning to find “Rewrite novel” on your to-do list, give yourself one step in the process: “Revise five pages.”

Check-in Regularly:

In order to keep yourself accountable, check in on your goals on a regular basis. This can be weekly, monthly, or at least quarterly, depending on the scope of your goals. See how you’re progressing, and determine if you need to tweak anything. Nothing is set in stone, and your goals should work for you. If circumstances change, you might want to alter your goals a little as well. Be honest with yourself and you will find the entire process more rewarding and useful. If you’re falling behind your goal, see what you need to do to catch up, or rework your schedule to account for your new pace. And don’t forget to reward yourself or celebrate when you hit those milestones!

However you picture your writing career at the end of 2020, now is the time to start making that happen. Carve out the path to your future and get ready to go. Happy writing!