Making More from Less


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How many times have you wished for more time to write, more time to brainstorm, better ideas, bigger ideas, a newer laptop, a real office space…? Whatever your goals and aspirations, it’s pretty typical to wish you had more to work with, a leg up from whatever point you’re at in the moment. But what would you do with unlimited resources? If you had an open schedule, with all the time in the world to write or paint or dance or do whatever creative endeavor calls to you. The finances to support yourself. A great work space just as you imagine it. How much would your work improve? Would you actually spend more time working?

This podcast looks at the effects limits can have on creativity, how it can push you to be better, more resourceful and imaginative, because you have no other choice. Give it a listen, and then go make something wonderful.

Friday Links


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Happy Friday, and happy long Labor Day weekend to those of you in the U.S. Even though we technically have a few more weeks of summer ahead, this weekend marks the unofficial close of the summer season for many people, so by all means, put this weekend to good use. It’s time for quick getaways, splashing in the ocean or a nearby lake or a lovely pool, backyard cookouts, or reading a great book in a shaded hammock. However you spend this weekend — holiday or not — I wish you a terrific one. And, of course, offer up a few fun links to help kick things off. Enjoy!

I Smell Your Rookie Moves, New Writers – Some excellent advice from the always-funny Chuck Wendig.

A Writing Lesson from Ursula K. LeGuin – As stated.

One Shade of Grey – A virtual peek through the doors of London’s Persephone Books.

10 Instagram Tips for Writers – Share images of your bookish world.

Making Maps for Books: 2 Cartographers Show Us How It’s Done – Wonderful interview with two map makers who frequently provide maps for fantasy novels, etc.

Happy Book Day!


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Archangel's Enigma_Cover

Wishing a very happy book release day to Nalini Singh, whose latest exciting adventure in the Guild Hunter series, ARCHANGEL’S ENIGMA, hits shelves today.

New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh returns to her world of dark passion and immortal power – and to one of the most seductive and impenetrable heroes ever to stalk the Guild Hunter landscape…

Naasir is the most feral of the powerful group of vampires and angels known as the Seven, his loyalty pledged to the Archangel Raphael. When rumors surface of a plot to murder the former Archangel of Persia, now lost in the Sleep of the Ancients, Naasir is dispatched to find him. For only he possesses the tracking skills required – those more common to predatory animals than to man.

Enlisted to accompany Naasir, Andromeda, a young angelic scholar with dangerous secrets is fascinated by his nature – at once playful and brilliant, sensual and brutal. As they race to find the Sleeping archangel before it’s too late, Naasir will force her to question all she knows…and tempt her to walk into the magnificent, feral darkness of his world. But first they must survive an enemy vicious enough to shatter the greatest taboo of the angelic race and plunge the world into a screaming nightmare…

Pick up ARCHANGEL’S ENIGMA from your favorite bookstore or e-tailer, and finally see inside Naasir’s mysterious world.


Friday Links


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Everywhere I look, I see signs that fall is coming. Back-to-school sales, fall book lists, the return of pumpkin-themed foods. But despite all that, it’s still full-on summer in my neck of the woods, another heatwave bearing down and the air conditioning on high to combat constant sweaty foreheads. Though we human beings are the ones who imposed the concept of seasons over the way our weather cycles, we seem terribly bad at actually enjoying the seasons as they play out. Life in a commerce-driven world — we are at the mercy of the marketing calendar.

But I’m more concerned with the weekly calendar today. TGIF! I’ve a nice selection of links for you, and I hope you enjoy them, whatever sort of weather or season you’re experiencing. Don’t forget to squeeze in your writing time. Happy weekend!

The End of the Ambitious Summer Reading List – An interesting look at how our collective reading habits have shifted.

The Great Booksellers Fall Preview – A peek at the books booksellers around the country are looking forward to reading and/or selling.

What Happened to O? – Just one more small evolution of language.

The Purpose of Plot: An Argument with Myself – One reader’s relationship with plot summaries.

When the Editor Becomes the Writer – On wearing two hats.

Tips for Navigating the Submissions Process


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Writers often ask how they can improve their chances of getting an agent interested in their work, and of course the most important response, always, is to write a great book — fabulous story, strong hook, beautifully crafted prose, satisfying ending. That’s easier said than done, and it’s not something an agent can really help a writer with other than to encourage them to hone their skills, to get feedback from trusted sources, and to keep on trying. But not all advice requires such time-intensive, career-building effort.

I offer up for your benefit the low-hanging fruit of the submissions process — the advice that is easy to follow. In many cases these morsels are common sense, things that should not even need to be said, but for some reason still get ignored all too often, whether because the writer has gone half-blind staring at their manuscript, nerves make them careless, or the task just hasn’t occurred to them. Most of these things should be done after you’re finished tweaking your manuscript, and in most cases repeated if you go back in for additional revisions. Others apply to your query letters and should be handled on an as-needed basis.

Run spell check. I understand you might have a lot of wiggly red lines in your manuscript and/or query letter. Fantasy writers especially deal in made up words and names that set spell check into a tail spin. If that’s the sort of writing you do, it’s worth the time it takes to create a custom dictionary for your project where you add in the correct spelling of your characters’ names, fancy spells they throw out, the names of countries and rivers and mountain ranges you’ve devised, etc. That way you can not only minimize those wiggly red lines, but you’ll find out if you have a typo in the words you’ve created as well as the more standard varieties. But in this day an age, there is no reason for an agent to face a query letter and/or manuscript with multiple misspellings. If my spell check catches them, yours will, too.

Save edits and eliminate markups. All too often I open a manuscript to find that the writer’s critique partner made extensive edits and comments using Track Changes or some other system, and the writer has left them in the file for the world to see. Even if I have Track Changes turned off, Word presents me with the Final Showing Markup. It’s important to go through all those comments and edits and physically accept or reject the changes in order to have a clean manuscript for submission. If you want to keep track of your critique partner’s or your editor’s notes, simply save a new, clean copy of the file for submission purposes only. You really don’t want your prospective agent to find a sea of colorful revisions the first time they look at your work.

Read the submission guidelines. Agents will repeat this until they go hoarse, and yet I constantly receive queries that show without any doubt that the writer failed to take two minutes to visit the agency site and read over the guidelines for submissions. Take the time. It’s in everyone’s best interests. Why would you want to query an agent who does not handle the sorts of stories you write? Guidelines are there to streamline the submissions process and to help both writer and agent make the best match possible.

Proofread your query letter. This is the first thing an agent will read, so give it the same love and attention you would give your manuscript. The easiest way to handle this is to write your query in Word or another word processing program with a reliable (or customized) spell check, review it carefully for any clunky phrases, missing words and so on, then copy and paste the final version of the letter into your email.

Personalize your query letter and check for errors. Yes, it’s nice if you tell me why you’re submitting to me, specifically, but by this I mean make sure the email address and the salutation match. There’s nothing worse than opening an email query only to see it says Dear [Name of some other agent]. Most agents expect that you’re submitting to multiple people, but don’t let that turn the process into an assembly line. Take the time to double check that you’ve updated all parts of your query letter before you hit send. And by no means should you send a single email to a long series of agents. If the wrong name in the salutation will annoy me, the site of one hundred agents in the to: field will cause me to auto-reject. And no, hiding the list by putting the addresses in the blind copy filed doesn’t change my poor impression. Again, take the time to query each agent individually.

Include pertinent information with all correspondence. Remind the agent who you are and what you’re writing when you send any follow-up emails. If you meet an agent at a conference and they request material from you, be sure to remind them of that when you follow through. Include your name, where you met, the title and genre of your work, and what you’re sending (three chapters, 50 pages, synopsis, whatever). If the agent has requested attachments, be sure they’re actually attached and that they are the correct files, and that they include your name and the title of the work as well. When you write an agent to check up on a project, include your previous email in the thread or, at minimum, use the same email address to make yourself searchable.

Are any of these a magic bullet that will land you an agent or get you published in a heartbeat? Of course not. But they are all basic good-business practices that you should make a habit as you travel along your career path. Agents look for great projects, but they also look for writers with whom they will enjoy working. A writer who takes a few moments to make sure they’re sending the cleanest possible work, with clear correspondence accompanying it, will be a much more appealing prospect than a writer who is sloppy and creates extra work for the agent. Take a professional stance and you will already shine more brightly in the crowd.

Friday Links


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Happy Friday to all! What’s on your horizon this weekend? Mine’s filled with words… I’m deep into a serious submissions-pile catch up, as the number of things rattling around in that particular inbox has been making me twitch for a while now. I tend to read queries and partials during the week when I can work them in around other tasks, but full-length manuscripts are on deck for the weekend. I don’t expect anyone will be seeing much of me.

But before I disappear into a dozen different worlds, I bring you this week’s assortment of links. I hope you find them interesting, educational, and entertaining, and that you might find a little inspiration for your own weekend activities. Enjoy!

The Charge to Be Fair: Ta-Nehisi Coates and Roxane Gay in Conversation – An important talk about Coates’s new book, race in writing, and race relations today.

7 Books to Give You a Taste of Edinburgh (If You Can’t Be There to Soak Up the Culture Yourself) – The annual Edinburgh International Book Festival began last weekend, so this might give yo a little taste.

13 Tips for Actually Getting Some Writing Accomplished – Advice from Gretchen Rubin.

11 History Books You Should Read Before Writing Your Military SF – Nice round up, even if you’re not writing in the sub-genre, plus some more suggestions in comments.

Beyond Bond – The New York Public Library offers up a list of spy novels for lovers of Ian Fleming’s famous character.

How “The Girl on the Train” Became a Runaway Success – A look at the role of Goodreads in the marketing of a successful title.

Happy Book Day!


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Kissing Vicious

Happy book release day to Brooklyn Ann, whose new romance, KISSING VICIOUS, is available today. Known for her paranormal romance, Brooklyn veers off into the very real world of heavy-metal music with her latest tale, the first in a planned trilogy.

Aspiring guitarist Kinley Black is about to get her first big break—as a roadie for Viciöus, her favorite heavy metal band, and for the rock god she always dreamt might make her a woman. 


At 15, aspiring guitarist Kinley Black wished she were a boy. At 16, after hearing Quinn Mayne sing, she wanted him to make her a woman. Now, at 22, her dreams have come true. Quinn’s band Viciöus needs someone to lug their amps around the country, to strive and sweat with the guys. She just has to act like one of them. 


Quinn had to admit the new chick could pull her weight, but that didn’t mean his road manager made the right choice. Taking a hottie on a heavy metal music tour was like dangling meat in front of a pack of feral hounds—and Quinn could be part dog himself. But more surprising than her beautiful body are Kinley’s sweet licks, so that no man could help but demand a jam session. Quinn will soon do anything to possess her, and to put Kinley in the spotlight where she belongs. And to keep her safe and sound from the wolves.


Sheila Heti’s First Time


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The Paris Review Blog is back with more of their “My First Time” series of interviews with authors about their first publications and the experiences leading up to them. Today’s interview features writer Sheila Heti discussing how she became a writer and her approach to learning how to write a short story.

PSA: On Writing the Other


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There’s been a lot of discussion about diversity in reading and writing, both in traditional media and social media. I know that one of the problems for writers can be that hesitation to include diverse characters for fear of getting them wrong and ending up doing more harm than good. So I wanted to give a quick signal boost to an online course coming up on Writing the Other, taught by K. Tempest Bradford and Nisi Shawl. It’s going to be a small class in terms of size, but I suspect it will be offered again if it’s successful. If this is something you’re concerned about, either generally or for a particular project, you might want to check it out.

Friday Links


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Happy Friday, everyone! This week flew by. In fact, summer seems to be flying by. A friend cornered me the other evening to let me know about her Labor Day bbq, and all I could think was “September? Already? No!” It’s the same every year, yet it always manages to catch me unawares.

But we have a few more weeks of summer to enjoy, and I hope you intend to get some good reading and writing time in along with your other activities. And of course, if you’re in the southern part of the world, I hope you’re anticipating spring’s arrival by staying inside, keeping warm, and cranking out pages on your WIP before sunny days lure you outside. To mix in with all these activities, I offer this week’s links to check out. Enjoy, and have a fabulous weekend!

World Building 101 – N.K. Jemisin recently taught an online class in world building, and here she offers a downloadable PDF of the steps she takes when creating worlds. Not as complete as taking the course, obviously, but still a great resource.

How Romance Novelists Got Such a Silly, Sappy Rap – In the wake of this year’s national RWA convention, an interesting look at romance writers as business people.

Can’t Get Into It – Artist and writer Danny Gregory talks about attention span and reading — briefly.

How to Access a Million Stunning, Copyright-free Antique Illustrations Released by the British Library – A fabulous resource for bloggers, etc.

World’s Coolest Bookstores – Some amazing photos. You’re going to want to add a few of these to your travel list.


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