Great Stuff on the Writers’ Blogs, October 6-8, 2012

Good-to-great stuff in lots of areas over the weekend, so without further ado…

CRAFT

KM Weiland (@KMWeiland) continues her Most Common Mistakes series with this surprising question: Are You Skipping the Best Parts? Let’s turn this around: have you ever read a book or story where things were getting really tense or exciting, a big event is waiting on the very next page, and then…nothing. No shift to another character or location to stretch out the tension. No promise of coming back to that big scene. Nothing. How frustrating is THAT? That’s what KM teaches you not to do in your own work.

L. L. Barkat (@llbarkat) guest posts on Jane Friedman’s blog with a not-really-so-unusual technique: Steal Your Way to Better Writing. Of course, she’s not referring to plagiarism, but learning via close reading of something that draws you. This may not work as well for you as it did for her would-be-poet daughter, but it has value for everyone.

Quality work depends to some extent on productivity, which is why Rachelle Gardner’s (@RachelleGardner) post How Productive Are You? may be something you want to follow up on. Rachelle introduces a product called “Rescue Time” that is supposed to help you identify your work habits—and, one presumes, the times and ways you’re wasting time—so you can be more productive. I haven’t tried or used this tool or others like it, so I have no opinions on them, but if this is a concern of yours, you might want to check them out.

THE WRITER’S LIFE

That’s a good transition into one way to use time productively: going to writers’ conferences and conventions. New Kill Zone contributor Boyd Morrison (@boydmorrison) offers 20 Writers’ Conference Tips to make your time there more fun and more productive. Very practical and right on target from my own experiences.

OK, this next post might seem a bit morbid, but you know what, I’m right there with James Scott Bell (@jamesscottbell) in his thoughts about How Writers Should Die. His story is about novelist James M. Cain, who after a string of early successes (The Postman Always Rings Twice, among others) hit a dry patch and was urged to quit writing. He didn’t, found his way back to success late in life, and died at age 85 after completing two more books. While he didn’t literally die at the keyboard as some writers have, he did what he loved right to the end. How cool is that?

BUSINESS

OK, on to a cheerier topic, although not necessarily an easier one. Cheryl Craigie (@manageablelife) takes on a topic on Write to Done we all have to face at one point, writing the dreaded author bio. How to Write About Yourself offers practical tips on saying what you need to say—and no more—for the audience you’re writing for at that moment.

Joel Friedlander (@jfbookman) takes on the process of self-publishing again today, making the point that there are Only 2 Things Authors Ought to be Doing: writing and marketing. His central point is that there are a lot of very technical things that go into turning a manuscript into a self-published book and that an author who is an expert at none of them is going to end up producing something that looks like it was produced by an amateur. While Friedlander’s point might seem a bit self-serving since he is a professional book designer, leaving certain work to the pros is something we do every day, so why not do it in something we hope will make us money? That’s just common sense, isn’t it?

Along these lines, and maybe in direct contradiction to Friedlander, Matt Setter (@maltblue) posted over the weekend two tutorials on Essential HTML for Bloggers, part 1 and part 2.  Seems like a good idea, right? A quick and friendly introduction to the basics of the programming language that’s the basis for so much that’s done on the web, so you can use it better. Unfortunately, these posts weren’t proofread closely, so important information is sometimes missing and Matt’s web site isn’t available as I type this, both of which hurt his credibility, but since I mentioned this series in my last post, I feel obliged to tell you about it now.

Finally, Victoria Strauss (@victoriastrauss) reports on Writer Beware® Blogs that Publishers Settle With Google—But What About Authors? This all has to do with an effort Google started years ago to scan and make available on-line every book that’s ever been written of which a copy survives. Several organizations, including the Association of American Publishers (AAP) and the Author’s Guild (AG) sued to block the effort over copyright concerns. After years in court, the AAP has settled with Google, Strauss reports, but AG has not and there are many questions remaining about what the AAP settlement means for authors, particularly in terms of royalties, because the terms of the settlement are confidential. This may seem very esoteric but the questions are legitimate. Much more to come on this in the years ahead, I’m sure.

What great stuff have you found out on the web? Share it in the Comments.

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