Happy Friday, everyone! I hope you’ve all had a terrific week and that the weekend ahead holds some excellent adventures. Busy, busy over here, so this is just a fly-by post to give you this week’s links. Happy writing, and enjoy!
Get to Know the Finalists for the 2014 National Book Award – Looking for a weekend read? Maybe give one of these babies a try.
Seven Stories Chooses 50 Best Books for Cultural Diversity – Get your kids going on diverse reading early with these wonderful recommendations, divided by age range.
Is This a Golden Age for Women Essayists? – A look at some of the wonderful volumes of essays written by women that have been released recently, and some thoughts about what that means.
Shut Up and Write (Or: “I Really Want to Be a Writer, But…”) – Tough love from Chuck Wendig
It’s the middle of October, which means November and NaNoWriMo are only a couple of weeks away. For the uninitiated, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, a period during which thousands upon thousands of writers of every ilk and intention, all around the world, put fingers to keyboard and start furiously writing in the attempt to turn out an entire novel (of approximately 50,000 words — so not really a full-length novel according to most genres) in 30 days.
If that sounds a little insane, it’s actually only a little less than 1,700 words per day. That’s a lot for some writers and less than normal output for others. The real idea behind the challenge, however, is to force you to write, full out, with no time off for editing or mulling over or second guessing. You turn off the internal editor and just see what you come up with. At worst you have a really shitty first draft on December 1st that needs a whole lot of work. Maybe you just keep small bits and pieces and end up turning them into something else. Or perhaps you have the bones of something new and wonderful. What you don’t have is an empty page.
I encourage writers who want to give NaNoWriMo a try. It can be a fun exercise or a social endeavor, a way to finally push yourself to get a lot of writing done or a kick start on your next project. The key is to remember you will end up with a first draft, not a polished manuscript. December 1st rolls around demanding more writing and lots of editing. So give yourself permission to go a little crazy.
Whether you’re an outliner or a discovery writer, you’ll have a better chance of hitting your 50,000-word goal in a month if you do at least some prep work. So what kind of things should you be thinking about between now and November 1st?
- Characters – Who do you want to write about? Dream up some interesting characters and figure out a little bit about who they are and what they might want.
- Setting – If you can figure out where you want your book to be set, you may be able to do a little research ahead of time so you’ll have the information to write about at your fingertips.
- Careers – Here’s another aspect of your story you can research ahead. If you’re planning to give your characters interesting jobs and/or skills, you want to be able to describe them or fit them into your story with a certain level of authority. So look up things now.
- Plot – This is the tricky one, of course. Maybe you have an idea already burning in your brain, or maybe you have a hundred of them. Pick one (or maybe one and a backup if you’d rather) to flesh out a bit. You won’t start writing yet, of course, but that doesn’t mean you can’t fill a few note cards with ideas for potential pivotal scenes in your book — things to write first, or to write toward.
Finally, be sure to check out the NaNo site for information and tips. They provide pep talks throughout the month of November, plus all sorts of advice. There are local groups and online forums and places you can go write with other participants in coffee shops. Even if you’ve participated in NaNoWriMo before, you can make it a new and fresh experience each year. Good luck, and happy writing!
Happy Friday! I hope you all had an enjoyable week and that your plans for the weekend are shaping up. If you’re planning to participate in NaNoWriMo this year, you might consider starting to plan (assuming you haven’t already). Three weeks and counting to the madness. It’s also a great time to pick up some spooky, Halloween-type reading if you’re so inclined.
Whatever your plans for the weekend, I’ve got some great links here to inspire you. I hope you find them entertaining and educational. Happy writing!
The Introvert’s Guide to Planning a Book Launch – Some helpful tips for those of you who’d prefer to hide under a blanket with your laptop instead of promoting your book.
Judge Overturns IRS on Artist Tax Deductions – Useful for anyone juggling a day job that requires work similar to your art.
20 Amazing Writing Residencies You Should Apply for This Year – Looking for some time away to write? Check these out.
How to Write a Kick-Ass Essay, with Ann Hood – Wonderful Tin House podcast featuring Ann Hood’s workshop lecture on how to write a stellar essay.
Our Favorite Spooky Tales – Some recommendations for seasonal reading from the New York Public Library.
Happy Friday, and welcome to October! It’s the month for fall colors, crisp apples and shiny pumpkins, Halloween costumes, and NaNoWriMo prep (for those of you who go for that sort of thing). Of course in my neck of the woods, it’s supposed to hit 100 degrees again over the weekend, but I’m studiously ignoring that fact and planning a good fall housecleaning; time to haul old electronics out for recycling and to donate books to the library.
What do you have planned for your weekend? A short getaway? A cozy couple of days at home with the family? Some quality time with your WIP? Whatever you’ve got on the schedule, I hope you enjoy. And if you’re looking for a bit of a break, I have a huge list of links this week to offer up some distraction. Happy writing!
12 Essential Essays for Writers – A great roundup with inspiration for all.
First Pages: Tips to Avoid Cliches and Weak Writing – Some good advice on how to craft a strong first page.
10 Lessons from Real-life Revolutions that Fictional Dystopias Ignore – Food for thought if you’re writing a dystopian novel (or considering it).
Fiction Podcast: George Saunders Reads Grace Paley and Barry Hannah – Sit back and enjoy.
How I Forgot to Write – An interesting look at how the business of creating a career can alter your intended trajectory.
For Sale: Gloucester Home, Possibly Haunted by T.S. Eliot – An inspirational location, regardless.
When Science Fiction Grew Up – An intriguing look at the genre from the late 1950s through the mid-1970s, including a long list of titles. Great for anyone looking to brush up on their sf history/reading.
New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh’s new contemporary romance novella is pure hard rock and scorching heat…
What happens when the Gentleman of Rock decides to play dirty?
A drummer for the hottest rock band on the planet, David has a single, powerful weakness: Thea, the band’s publicist and the woman who steals his breath away with her every move.
Only problem is, Thea doesn’t date clients—or musicians. Emotionally scarred by a cheating ex, she’s not about to risk her heart with a man who has groupies buzzing around him like flies. Even if his sexy smile ties her up in knots.
What she doesn’t know is that David is a one-woman man…and he’s madly in love with her. David’s determined to prove he’s worth the risk, and willing to court her, step by exquisite step. Thea’s about to discover just how long and hard this handsome drummer can play.
Happy Friday! It’s the first weekend since fall officially arrived (in the northern hemisphere), and I’m looking forward to some cooler days ahead. Er… relatively speaking. I am still in Southern California.
But regardless, fall brings to mind reading and writing, books and shiny school supplies. It’s deeply imbedded in my psyche at this point. All I have to do is eyeball the enormous stack of books that has made its way into my apartment this month to know it’s pointless to fight my compulsion. So I plan to spend my weekend reading. First some submissions, and then some books with covers.
However, right now I’ve got links to share! I hope they inspire you to some creative endeavor this weekend, or send you scrambling for a good read. Enjoy!
An African Reading List – Great roundup of suggested titles/authors listed by country in Africa, with more suggestions in the comments. Especially handy for anyone looking to diversify their reading by adding in authors of color, women, or writers of different backgrounds.
The Longing of the Collector – A look at the book Curiosity’s Cats: Writers on Research, which collects a series of essays by different kinds of writers on their research habits and experiences.
How Stephen King Teaches Writing – Some words of wisdom from the prolific author with great information on his approach to both writing and teaching writing.
Romance Unlaced: Beyond Britain’s Shores – A look at historical romance novels and why, exactly, they tend to take place in England and Scotland, plus how some have broken the pattern.
Teju Cole’s Rules on Writing – A list of wonderful tips and things to consider, some familiar but worth repeating, and others a little different.
It would be terrific to live in a world where Banned Books Week was unnecessary, but as long as people attempt to get books thrown out of libraries and schools, as long as there are individuals who think books are for feeding fires instead of feeding minds, Banned Books Week remains important. It serves as an opportunity to draw attention to those titles that have been criticized for addressing subjects that make people uncomfortable, to books with difficult ideas or harsh imagery or what some might label objectionable vocabulary. Banned Books Week reminds us to embrace our right to read what we wish and to stand up for all the diverse voices striving to be heard.
Over at Book Riot, contributor Kelly Jensen urges us to stop “celebrating” Banned Books Week, rightly pointing out that the week itself is nothing to celebrate. But what we should celebrate is our freedom to read the very books that have been banned, not just this week but all year long. So choose a book from one the many available lists of banned works, and add it to your reading pile for the week, and maybe pick up a few more for the months ahead. Sadly, you can choose from many, many titles.
Happy Friday! It’s a very happy one around here, mostly because the insane heat wave we’ve been experiencing in the Los Angeles area has finally backed off a bit. I’m all for a nice hot day, but triple digits for nearly a week is enough to do me in. Right now it’s 70 and cloudy, with a mid-80s high forecasted, and I’m enjoying having the window open for a change.
But on to the links! I have a fun assortment for you today, which I hope will inspire you to challenge yourself when you sit down to write, or maybe get you to try a book from a genre you don’t normally read. I say fall is a great time to experiment and learn new things; maybe it’s the back-to-school mentally that was drilled into my head over the years. Whatever you’re up to this weekend, try to toss something a little bit different into the mix and see where it takes you. Enjoy, and happy writing!
Class of 2014: MacArthur Foundation – This year’s “Geniuses” have been chosen. Check out these interesting, diverse people and see what they’re up to. One or more of them might spark your own creativity.
The Bookrageous Podcast – This wonderful podcast features a cast of book bloggers, writers, booksellers, and publishing types discussing first what they’re reading, and then books on a theme. There’s a lovely backlog to check out for inspiration, and new podcasts seem to get posted every few weeks to every couple of months.
Opportunities for Writers: October and November, 2014 – A list of places to submit your work, including contests and grants with upcoming deadlines.
Interview: Mary Robinette Kowal – An interesting look at how Kowal addresses different aspects of her Glamourist series, including getting the language right for the historical period and how she ended up writing a “new” Byron poem.
Internet Predators, Vicious Amazon Reviews, and How Mitt Romney’s Smile Inspired a Novel – A group of writers discuss the writing process over at Salon.