Great Stuff on the Writers’ Blogs, December 4 & 5, 2012

A surprisingly light post today—maybe a good thing after Monday’s mega-post—or maybe I’m just being more selective. That’s not to say everything’s easy reading but there are a couple of fun pieces at the end.

CRAFT

I’m having a feeling of déjà vu all over again about KM Weiland’s (@KMWeiland) guest post on The Bookshelf Muse, 10 Lessons From a Completed Novel but I think that’s just because the post is a compilation of things she’s written elsewhere. In any case, while there’s nothing here that’s likely to be an epiphany for anyone, it’s nice to have a consolidated summary.

Donald Maass’s (@DonMaass) Writer Unboxed piece, Love Thy Neighbor, doesn’t seem at first like something on craft, but it is. He uses his experiences living through Superstorm Sandy in New York City to lead into the topic of finding people and places in any story who/which represent kindness and safety, for the reader if not also for the characters. Something to think about in the midst of stories full of conflict.

BUSINESS

Dean Wesley Smith (@DeanWesleySmith) looks to the future in The New World of Publishing: How To Get Started Selling Fiction in 2013. Several warnings about this piece, including the fact that it’s fairly long:

  1. Smith, like his wife Kris Rusch and Joe Konrath, is highly opinionated and doesn’t mind sharing his opinions. If this bothers you, don’t read the piece.
  2. His own warning: you may not like what he has to say. If you don’t, that’s OK. Follow your own path. If it works, great!
  3. He might be completely wrong. Or he might not be.
  4. Whatever you choose to do, if you want to be both a professional author and a successful one, it’s going to take a lot more time than you expect, and a lot more work. You have been warned.

Rachelle Gardner (@RachelleGardner) has announced that Thomas Umstattd (@ThomasUmstattd), CEO of Author Media, will be hosting a FREE webinar covering 7 Secrets of Effective Author Websites. The date is next Tuesday, December 11th, starting at 8 PM Eastern time (no indication of how long it’ll be). If you can’t attend in real time, as I can’t, if you register anyway you’ll be able to access the recorded webinar later. For just the price of your time, this seems like it would be worth checking in to.

FUN

If you read more than a few blogs, you’ve doubtless come across some written in the UK, Ireland, or Australia. And you’ve noticed that those authors spell things differently from the way we do in the U.S. (and vice versa). Oliver Randall guest posts on The Creative Penn about the Most Common British/American English Spelling Mistakes. “Mistakes” may not be exactly correct—differences would be more like it, unless you’re using the “wrong” forms for a particular market—but don’t let that distract you. The piece is just fun… and only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the differences Sir Winston Churchill described as “two people separated by a common tongue”!

Then there’s Kristy Montee’s (one of the two sisters who write as PJ Parrish) hilarious yet disturbing Yes! Yes! Yes!…Oh no on The Kill Zone, celebrating (?) the year’s worst sex writing in fiction, courtesy of the Literary Review’s annual Bad Sex in Fiction Awards. Two more warnings: (1) You “get” to read some of the “winners.” (2) This material is rated both X and Y—as in X and Y chromosomes and as in, “Why did this stuff ever see print?” Definitely not so-bad-it’s-good but so bad it’ll leave you laughing—when you’re not scratching your… head.

I’m sure there’s more great stuff out there on the blogosphere. Tell us what you liked in the Comments below.

Great Stuff on the Writers’ Blogs, October 16 and 17, 2012

A surprisingly light mid-week, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing terrific out there. For example…

CRAFT STUFF

Sophie Masson (@SophieMasson1) continues her series of articles on characters on Writer Unboxed, focusing this time on Sidekicks and Henchmen. The roles might seem similar, but they’re not. Check out the post for the details.

As KM Weiland (@KMWeiland) points out, we’re always being told to “raise the stakes” in our stories. And yet…is it possible to go too far, even in fiction? The answer’s “yes,” so you need to know Why Your Stakes Shouldn’t Be Too High.

Nicola Morgan (@nicolamorgan) guest posts on Writer Beware with a positive and very helpful piece on one of the hardest things we ever have to write: the query letter. In Write the Letter That Sells Your Book, Morgan shows you how to start a two or three word epithet (that’s a description, not an obscenity!) about your main character, expand it to 25 words, then expand it again into a paragraph that makes that agent or editor think I’ve GOT to read this book! (And don’t forget to include wolves. ;)) This one’s a keeper.

MARKETS AND WEB STUFF

Emily Wenstrom (@EmilyWenstrom) introduces 5 Literary Journals Born of the Digital Age in a guest post on Jane Friedman’s blog. These are definitely babies of the Facebook/Twitter era: one wants stories no longer than 420 characters, poems no longer than 140, another prefers a length of 433 words. If this kind of flash is for you, check out this post.

Laura Pepper Wu (@laurapepwu) also guests on Jane’s blog with this important information: Is Your Author Website Doing Its Job? 6 Things to Check. Practical and actionable advice, whether you’ve got a web site already or, like me, know you need to build one. This one’s another keeper.

INTERESTING STUFF

Today’s last piece is just interesting. There are as many as 31 million dyslexics in the United States alone, people for whom reading is very difficult. Joel Friedlander (@jfbookman) introduces us today to A Typeface Just for Dyslexics on The Book Designer. The free, open-source typeface, called OpenDyslexic makes the bottom of each character thicker, which designer Abelardo Gonzalez says will keep letters from appearing to roll over or turn into others, one of the symptoms of dyslexia. Now, if someone could just invent something that would make my fingers type all the letters of the word in teh rihgt odrer, that would be GRATE!

ANNOUNCEMENT

There will be no Great Stuff on Friday. Wait, let me make that more clear: I won’t be posting anything on Friday. I’ll be stuck in meetings all day. “See” you on the internet on Monday.