Friday Links: Witches, Word Play, and Women as the Face of Evil


TGIF! End of the week, on the cusp of Halloween, and nearly ready to turn the clocks back an hour here in most of the U.S. and a few other spots that are in sync with us. (Yes, that’s this weekend.) I wish I could say I was looking forward to an extra hour of reading, but like many people I suspect, I’m actually looking forward to an extra hour of sleep.

I’ve been in post-conference mode this week, trying to catch up on email and work reading, and feeling like my office is just a bit too quiet after spending a few days talking books and writing with so many wonderful people. Most of the time I enjoy working from home because I don’t have the temptation of lots of coworkers to talk to or to take breaks with, but it’s still lovely to have a chance to chat business and bookish obsessions with likeminded folk. It reminds me of all the things I enjoy about this industry and leaves me charged up to find great new manuscripts to help shepherd into the world.

But I’m happy to say I have a great collection of links this week, including the last of the Halloween-ish ones that keep grabbing my attention. I hope you find them fun and interesting, and maybe even inspirational, because a couple of these seem like excellent research material for a very cool project. Happy Halloween, everyone, and happy writing!

The Conspiracy Against a Good Night’s Sleep – Tobias Carroll on the things that scare us.

The Key of Hell: An 18th-Century Manual of Black Magic – A bit disturbing, but interesting nonetheless. The page includes further links to articles on magic etc.

Why Are Old Women often the Face of Evil in Fairy Tales and Folklore? – An intriguing (and slightly depressing) story from the folks at NPR.

Alex Mar’s Journey into the Occult – An interview regarding the author’s new book, Witches of America.

American Writers Museum Slated to Open in Chicago in 2017 – This will be the first U.S. museum to celebrate American writers, including authors of books and poetry, journalists, and prominent contributors to social media.

In the Sandbox of Words: On Puzzles and Novels – A look at the connection between wordplay and writing.

Really, Really Big Books: A Reading List – Some excellent fat books to check out if you’re looking for a doorstop for a chilly fall/winter night.

The Writer’s Guide to Essential Gear – Writer and artist Danny Gregory provides a helpful list of all the tools he uses for his writing.

Toys… er, Tools for Writers

Writing requires very few tools if you’re just getting started and sincere in your desire to commit to that first draft. Really, a pen or pencil and some paper does the trick. The important thing is to sit down and get to it rather than wasting time worrying about the right computer or the proper program or what font will make you look most writerly. At its heart, writing is about… writing.

However, writers do love their toys. And the truth is that, once you’ve actually started to write and have finished some stories or drafted your novel, there are plenty of tools out there that can make your life easier. Some are even pretty necessary. Most editors expect a polished manuscript delivered electronically, so a computer with an internet connection and your own professional email account comes in handy. Then there’s the software that helps you turn off that internet connection long enough to get your writing done, and it just kind of balloons from there.

I’m a firm believer that less is more. Find the tools that work for you and then get back to the business of writing and marketing your creations. That said, I’m a fan of a few products out there, and there happens to be a summer sale, so I thought I’d share with the class. I’d like to state up front that I’m in no way connected to these programs or their creators, nor do I receive any benefit if you decide to purchase them. I just think they’re very useful tools, and I’m taking this opportunity to pass along the information.

Scrivener. This is a writing program that was truly designed with the creative writer in mind. It allows you to pull in all your research materials, see your work in outline or notecard formats, color code characters or themes or whatever you’d like, rearrange chapters or sections or combine them all with ease, reformat into a standard manuscript format or export into a self-pub format, and so much more. You can download it for a trial run before purchasing, and it’s the sort of program that allows you to jump right in and work with just the basic tools and learn the more complicated functions as you go. Plus the website offers up plenty of helpful video tutorials for when you want to figure something out. I know so many writers who have switched to this program and adore it. Available for Mac and Windows, and on sale until August 15th, 2014.

Aeon Timeline. This is a much more specialized program and certainly not for everyone. However, if you’re heavily into world building for your project, you write historical novels where you want to track your characters’ history versus actual historical events, you’re writing a series of novels set in a created world where the characters lives overlap (for instance a number of romances in the same town, etc.), or anything where an in-depth timeline could prove useful to maintaining your sanity, you might find this to be an extremely helpful program. Additionally, if you’re using Scrivener 2 for Mac, you can sync projects between the programs. As with Scrivener, you can download a trial version to help you decide if this is a useful program for you, for either Mac or Windows, and it’s on sale until August 15th, 2014.

Sale information for these and several other programs is available at SummerFest 2014. Please make sure to check, as different purchase parameters apply depending on the program in order to take advantage of the discount.