Drink your Pumpkin Spice Latte and read the links

Picture by Danielle ScottIt’s that time of year again, when the rest of the world asks “Why are Americans so obsessed with pumpkins anyway?” While we ponder this question and look forward to Halloween – and more importantly NaNoWriMo – try out these links.

Tea and No Sympathy: the Invisible Editor
KJ Charles about how the best editing leaves no trace it ever happened.

And of course, because editors are invisible, you get people thinking they don’t need them. Authors who refuse to accept editing, self-published authors who say, ‘I’ll get my friend to read it over’. And, worse, people who work as editors without really understanding the job. People who think it’s about tidying up, who have no idea how to tackle deep structure or tonal issues or limp characterization, or how to do that without breaking an author’s heart.

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Goodbye to Summer Links

JUST DESSERT: why a whole book can’t be a happy ending
Damon Suede on why characters must suffer to earn that happy ending

The trap is completely logical. If your HEA is a foregone conclusion, if everyone just wants the sweet stuff, why not cut to the chase? The purpose of escapism is, after all, escape. Why even bother with all those pesky setbacks, complications, or disappointment? Why should any character ever suffer or question themselves? Who needs waffles when what folks want is butter and syrup?

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Dog Days of Summer Links

Summer is hot and so are these links. And if it’s raining, these links are still hot. Enjoy!

7 (Bad) Habits of Highly Successful Authors
Even good writers have bad habits – but they know how to turn them to their advantage.

So below are what I think are the most common foibles to which many writers fall prey… and somehow they are still able to succeed. I give you this list not so you can gloat and feel superior (not for more than a minute anyway) but so that, if you happen to have any of these particular traits, you now know, unequivocally, that you can no longer use it as an excuse for not reaching your goals. Accept your weaknesses, and carry on.

Why Every Story You Write Is a Guaranteed Failure
K.M. Weiland on Helping Writers Become Authors blog about how to get past writing lows.

You know how it goes. One minute you’re flying high and having fun. Your story is a delight; your characters are your best friends. The words are zipping from your fingers to your keyboard and into immortality. With everything in you, you genuinely believe agents, editors, and readers are going to eat this thing up.

How To Become A Prolific Writer While Holding Down A Day Job
Yes, like it or not, when we commit to writing every day, sacrifices (choices) will have to be made. Many of us have hobbies that we do every day, such as playing tennis, or golf, or running, or going to the gym. What will you give up or cut back on? Unfortunately, we don’t have unlimited hours in a day – only 24.

Maybe it’s your writing that you’re already sacrificing for something else?

Reading, Writing, and Marketing the Serialized Novel
Thinking of serialising a novel? Clara Kensie on the Romance University blog has some good advice.

I also like the versatility of serials. They give you a choice: savor or binge. People do that all the time with TV series on Netflix – savor or binge, right? It’s the same with serialized novels. I savored some serials: I would read each part as it was released, and then I’d look forward all week long to the release of the next part. I woke up each Tuesday, knowing the newest episode had been released while I slept, and was waiting for me on my e-reader. For other serials, if all the installments had already been released, I binged: I read the entire book at once.

12 Dumb Things Writers do to Sidetrack Our Own Success
Anne R Allen on the big mistakes some writers make that stall their careers for years. Are you making any of them?

12) Not reading (especially in your genre)

I’m amazed at people who claim to want to be writers, but when you ask them what they’re reading they go totally blank.
Or they’ll mention a bestseller of a decade ago as the last book they read. Or they say they read nothing but classics—which you strongly suspect they haven’t read since college. They may even follow by telling you “there’s nothing good out there.”

It’s awfully hard to write a novel contemporary readers are going to like if you haven’t read anything published since The Great Gatsby. And it’s impossible to write something Romance/Mystery/Thriller readers are going to like if you don’t read (and love) those genres.

Long and thoughtful article by Alexis Hall about the Gay For You and Out For You tropes.

The problem with this approach, to my mind, was that it internalised the worldview of the Christian Right. It implicitly accepted that the moral acceptability of homosexuality is predicated on its being innate, biological and unchangeable. This struck me as fantastically dangerous. In fact, I feel this is a massively important debate that we surrendered without even noticing we were doing it. The question is not, and should not be, “is homosexuality a choice?” The question is, “should homosexual relationships be seen as equally valid to heterosexual relationships?”

13 of the most annoying writers you’ll ever meet.
Tori Telfer on Bustle with a list of pesky writing types.

Here are some bad things about writers: They’re solipsistic. They’ll use the word “solipsistic” in conversation without bothering to define it, as though they and their vocabulary are the only ones that exist (…which is called solipsism). They read novels so they can say they’ve read them, not because they genuinely wanted to read them. They’re bad with deadlines. They’re pretentious. They think the world owes them a book deal.

Entitlement In Writer Culture
Kait Nolan with a reminder that nobody owes you anything just for being a writer.

One of the first things I saw when I logged into Twitter this morning was a conversation between a writer friend of mine (who, incidentally, is also a professional editor and teaches workshops) and another writer who was essentially lambasting her (and all other professional writers) for not helping new writers. Digging back through the conversation, this evidently centered around the issue of queries, but it definitely had broader implications. My friend handled things in a very calm, professional manner, stating quite rationally that she couldn’t be held responsible for every writer who wants to write, as it simply wasn’t possible. To which she received this in reply “Your reaction is why so many writers feel worthless. No one wants to hear from them. No one cares.”

Don’t know how to say goodbye
Alexis Hall about the scariest part of writing novels – writing the end.

However, something I realised pretty early (in the two whole years I’ve doing this) is that if I want to keep my sanity, if I want writing to stay in the Fun Zone as opposed to the Omg What The Fuck Am I Doing Zone, there has to be Writing and there has to be After Writing, and I basically have to pretend/convince myself that After Writing doesn’t exist.

One Thing Authors Shouldn’t Leave Out of A Story’s “Big Moment”
Victoria Grefer on how not to sell the Big Moments for your story short.

Today’s post is about the big moments in fiction–the action-packed, “everything is changing because of what is happening” moments–and about one thing in particular that authors shouldn’t leave out when writing such a vital passage.

What inspired this post was reflecting on why I am not, in general, a huge fan of the Harry Potter films (especially the 3rd and 4th) when I love Rowling’s books as much as I do and they have impacted my life and writing as much as they have.

Marketing, Social Media, Books and Me
Liz McCausland about how the marketing writers do on social media does, and doesn’t, influence what she reads.

Stop With “Not Your Mother’s”

Many readers I know object to the currently popular “not your mother’s romance” marketing slogan. Some were introduced to romance-reading by their mothers; some are mothers who like sex and sexy books; all know newer authors did not invent sexy/dark/whatever they think they invented.

How to Speak Blurb: a translation guide
KJ Charles on what book blurbs really mean.

You pick up a bunch of books at random. The blurbs claim that they are ‘A hilariously trenchant romp’, ‘Breathtakingly original, written in rhapsodic prose’, and ‘Lyrical, charming and heartbreaking’. Do you wonder if you have stumbled across a cache of literature representing the pinnacle of human artistic endeavour, or do you think, ‘These all look pretty average’?

Writing Romance Fiction is a Feminist Act
Dannielle Summers talks about how she learned that Romance writers and Romance fiction are not what she expected.

When I walked into the biennial conference of a local chapter of the Romance Writers of America, I expected to learn something but also find lots at which to snicker. I expected to find breathy-voiced women with long nails talking about fine young stallions looking to sweep willing young women off their feet. Romance writing isn’t taken seriously. Even though I, along with my wife, had been writing and successfully selling romance fiction for several months, I didn’t really take it seriously either.

99% of what Writers are hearing in terms of advice comes from 1% of Authors.
Bob Mayer argues for more diversity in writing and publishing advice to reflect the rapid change in the business.

First—does what the 1% say regarding their career path even apply any more? Things are different now than they were just six months ago. For trad authors issues like rights granted, reversion clauses, and non-compete clauses are growing more and more important. For indie authors, the market is saturated, so how do you get a toehold in it and leverage your way up, especially if you don’t have backlist, which is the conundrum for the new author?

Real Books: Print, e or parchment scroll?
KJ Charles writing at Lovebytes reviews aregues that books are the content not the container.

And I hate piles of books. Really hate them. That thing people say about the smell of real books? Hahaha no. Go to a book warehouse some day: you’ll need two showers to feel clean again. At the publisher where I work, doors are kept open with books, in boxes as doorstops or splayed to serve as wedges. I use the fruit of someone’s hard work and invention to hold up my monitor.

Links that are hotter than July

Some links to read while sunbathing.

Are you ‘in the closet’ about M/M?
Kate Aaron talks about being secretive about what you read.

Here’s the thing: people’s minds don’t just change overnight. There are plenty of folks who think they don’t know anyone who’s LGBT, or who really gives a damn about LGBT rights. They’re aware that out there somewhere in the hypothetical realm this stuff matters, but they don’t think it matters to them. That’s why we keep coming out, to show people that they do know queerfolk. We are the human faces of a heated political debate. Just look how many Republicans have changed their minds about same-sex marriage since their children came out.

Do You Know How To Edit AND Proofread Your Story?
Jenny Hansen talks about the differences between editing and proofreading and how to do both well.

Like most writers, I hang out with a boatload of other writers. Still, I never saw much of other peoples’ works in progress until I coordinated a contest several years ago. Coordinating contests changed the way I see writing. Period. It was a window into both sides of the submission process.

Plus, I saw firsthand one of the important talents that separates the amateurs from the professionals: the ability to both edit and proofread.

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It’s June now, right? (slightly early links)

It’s a little early for links, but it is technically the first week in June, since tomorrow is June. So here ya go. Lovely links I’ve gathered over May.

4 Reasons Authors Shouldn’t Edit While they Write
Victoria Grefer argues that you should keep your editing side locked up until your draft is complete.

Editing, correcting—“perfecting”—can become a bit like a drug. A bit like an addiction. You get to the point where you write a scene, and you can’t bring yourself to move forward unless you’ve edited it. Fixed it.

This is a huge problem and a huge waste of time. You know why? Generally, a read-through of the first draft comes after a first draft. And during that read-through, you realize you have a lot of fluff thrown in your novel. Sometimes entire scenes you can easily delete, and your novel will be better for the cut.

The Germ of an Idea: where a book came from
K.J. Charles on how a writer takes a small seed of an idea and turns it into an oak tree of a story.

One of my favourite experiences was getting so drunk on lemon sours that I spent hours in an animated argument about Lord of the Rings with an equally drunk friend. I was talking to Mr KJC about it the next day, when he pointed out that I don’t speak Japanese and our friend didn’t speak English. I have no memory of this being an issue at the time.

What new authors need to know, but no one usually tells them
Angela Campbell unravels the mysteries of what happens after you sign that first publishing contract.

When you first sign a contract, you expect a certain amount of hand-holding to occur, and sadly, it often doesn’t happen. No one ever tells aspiring authors what to expect once a contract is offered and accepted.

So, I thought I’d share a few tips for those debut authors out there to clue them in on a few things while, hopefully, shucking them on the shoulder with a “You can do this!” pat. Because, No. 1, you’ve already accomplished a major feat. Be super proud of yourself! There are tons of people still struggling to finish a manuscript, let alone shop it around to agents and publishers. And every experienced writer knows the rate of rejection far surpasses acceptances in this business.

There are 699,999 books that people want more than yours. Perfect.
Christa Desir about not defining success purely by your book’s Amazon ranking

I loved everything about release day. I’ve heard lots of debut writers say the same thing. All this good will is showered over you and your little labor of love is out in the world and it’s a social media frenzy of congratulations. But then, after that first day, that first month, those first six months, you wake up to the morning when your book is ranked 700,000 on Amazon. So basically the world wants to read 699,999 books more than yours. Perfect.

The BBA Jihad, or: Why This Is Getting Pretty Bloody Ridiculous (A How-To Guide for Authors)
Nenia Campbell on not going crazy about Goodreads reviews.


Someone just gave all your books one star ratings.


Do nothing. Calling attention to it will only make it worse.


“But it isn’t fair! They didn’t read the book!”


You don’t have any way of proving that, though. Unless the person wrote a review saying, “Nyah, nyah, I didn’t read the book but this author sux LOL!” that is.

Four Ways Fictional Romance Sometimes Reads False
Victoria Grefer about how to avoid making people think “Yeah right” about your loved up characters.

However, I have recognized through some failed “sweet” (read “sickly sweet”) romantic moments I tried to write in my unpublished novels that when my tender moments go wrong, it tends to be for one of a limited set of reasons. I’d like to share those just for reference and to ask if you’ve found this same thing happening in your writing.

Ask a Debut Novelist – Question 2 What has surprised you most about the book business?
Ted Thompson talks about what he learned after he sold his first book.

I’ll be honest, I was reluctant to answer this question at first because I confess I’m someone who thinks concentrating too much on the book business can be counterproductive for writers. Going to panels about publishing or subscribing to Publisher’s Lunch (don’t do it!) or obsessively Googling a certain agent can fill you with all kinds of ideas about what you think publishers want, and can distract you from exactly the thing that makes your book good.

Finishing Your Book: a handy completion checklist
So you think your books is finished and ready for submission? Think again, and check this handy list from author and editor K.J. Charles.

You’ve written your book. You’ve slaved over the plotting, wept blood on the characterisation, drunk your way through the sex scenes, got yourself under GCHQ scrutiny thanks to the websites you’re visiting for research, squeezed out multiple thousand words through your finger ends, and typed The End. But are you really finished?

Here, in honour of sending off my sixth book to the publisher, is my cut-out-n-keep Book Completion Checklist. It won’t catch everything but it might save you a bit of humiliation as the editor finds a delicate and tactful way to tell you you’re an idiot.

Anglo-Saxon Attitudes: bigotry in historical fiction
K.J. Charles about how writers deal with “of their time” attitudes and beliefs in historical stories without making us think their characters are appalling people.

In general, though, the attitudes were really pretty gruesome, and it shows in the books. Though it’s often a little bit complicated. Fu Manchu, for example, is an appalling caricature of Chinese stereotypes, a living yellow peril, threat to the white race, blah. Genuinely, massively, horrifically racist. But I can’t help noticing that he always wins. Denis Nayland Smith can stiffen his upper lip till you could use it to scrape wallpaper, but he usually ends up bound in a remote strangely carved cavern under the influence of mysterious Oriental drugs, while Fu Manchu buggers off to get on with running the world.

The 7 Deadly Sins of Writing
Zachery Petit compiled seven deadly sins of writing based on four popular authors on a ThrillerFest panel.

1. Laziness
(David Hewson, author of the Nic Costa series)
Intellectual laziness is something all writers are prone to: as in writing the same type of book, and doing it annually. “I think you really have to fight against laziness and constantly keep challenging yourself.” Like great art, books aren’t ever finished—they’re abandoned. (In other words, don’t just finish writing a first draft and call it a day.)

Tuna Salad and Creative Writing… A Connection, Please???
Victoria Grefer on why fiction is like tuna salad.

Remember, variety is the spice of life. You want enough variety to keep things interesting and flowing, but enough stability so that your reader keeps a hold of what is going on and what this story is actually about.

Finish off with a writing related chuckle.

Now, bring on the summer!