Got loads and loads of great links this month. These should keep you going nicely until August.
“‘We Have Always Fought’: Challenging the ‘Women, Cattle and Slaves’ Narrative”
Kameron Hurley challenges the accepted narrative roles of women in history and fiction.
“Women have always fought,” he said. “Shaka Zulu had an all-female force of fighters. Women have been part of every resistance movement. Women dressed as men and went to war, went to sea, and participated actively in combat for as long as there have been people.”
Survivorship bias: why 90% of the advice about writing is bullshit right now
Tobias Buckell on why the big sellers of self-publishing are outliers and their experience provides little useful to imitate for most authors.
Like in most cultish behavior, if you follow the rules and don’t get the results, you’re either ostracized, ignored, or it’s pretended you don’t exist. Many who don’t get the same results just shut up and go away. Thus creating an environment where people are creating massive amounts of confirmation bias by continually listening to the top sellers.
Hooks, Lines—and Sinkers
Shannon Donnelly on crafting a good opening line for your story.
But you have to be careful here—a great hook, or first line, can also backfire on you. If all you have is a fabulous first line (and nothing else to go with it), the reader is going to figure that out fast and put down the book. Also, if you polish and create a fabulous hook, or a wonderful first line, but the rest of your book doesn’t live up to the promise, that’s a problem. And, if the first line doesn’t match the tone of the story, you’re in trouble. As in, if you want funny, you want to start that way and stay that way—same thing goes for sexy. Start as you mean to go on.
Victoria Oldham – Pitch it to Me
Victoria Oldham of Bold Strokes Books about the basics of “pitching”, including what the heck that actually means.
That’s it! It’s that easy, and that difficult. My advice: practice. Write it down, read it out loud, make sure it makes sense. Don’t leave me with a synopsis full of spelling mistakes! Have someone else check it over. Sit across from someone (your dog, your cat, your plush toys, an actual human) and say exactly what you want to say to me, and time it. There are folks signed up before you and after you, so you don’t want to run over your ten minutes.
Rules for writing – separating editing and writing
Liam Livings talks about getting some distance between the process of writing a draft and editing it.
I like to think about writing in the same way as another creative pursuit I love, cooking. Cooking has plenty of tips and rules. How many different ‘ultimate recipes’ have you seen for basics like a sponge cake, Yorkshire pudding, shepherd’s pie? Each one very different from the last.
Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing: Writing Fast
Dean Wesely Smith on what he views as the myth that writing slower always means writing better.
Talk to any writer, and I mean privately, getting them to tell you the truth, not the public line, and you will discover that one of the writer’s books was written quickly, maybe even in a few weeks, while another book took the writer a half year to finish and he was deathly ill during half the writing time. And you, as a reader, reading the two books, would never be able to tell the difference.
Writer’s Guide To Twitter
Debbie Ohi’s extensive list of questions about Twitter, targetted at writers. Great for Twitter newbies. Good resource.
I’ve seen a lot of writers sign up for Twitter but then be confused about what they should do next. Or get frustrated because no one seems to be reading their feeds. I’m far from a Twitter expert but I’ve done a ton of research online, lurked and chatted, and made Twitter mistakes (a lot of them), then learned from those mistakes.
One of my goals for this series of posts is to help you learn from my mistakes, and also share what I’ve learned about what does and doesn’t work on Twitter, from an author’s perspective.
7 Ways Authors Waste Time “Building Platform” on Social Media
Anne R Allen has an interesting point of view about authors and online promo. Some I agree with, some I don’t, but a good read.
The only thing that can be counted on to enhance your visibility as a writer is to interact with readers in a real, honest, and generous way on the social media platform of your choice, as Hugh Howey has showed us. He said he focused on the readers he already had instead of trolling the universe for more. When you create the kind of goodwill and loyal fan base he has, word of mouth spreads news of your books. That way you get those “1000 true fans” instead of amassing pointless lists of numbers.
The Importance of Being Edited
Editor Francine Lasala on the different types of editors and why they are important to writers.
As wonderful as you are (and you are wonderful), you know it is impossible for a single human being to know everything. (Many, including my husband will disagree with me about this, but, look, it is what it is.) And hey, even if you do know everything, consider this: You may know too much! That saturation of knowledge of yours could very well affect how you present it, and you can drown your reader in confusion without even realizing it. Sometimes it’s an editor’s task to pare down, to tell you when to rein it the freak in.
Gender, power, and m/m romance
Interesting post by Sunita at Dear Author and discussion about how gender roles are still an important factor in a m/m romance, as they are in m/f romance.
If I hear one more time that readers turn to the m/m genre because it is free of “gendered power relationships,” I will throw a large heavy object across the room. The worst thing about this statement is that it is often made by intelligent people who seem to have some familiarity with feminism and gender theory. If they were in class on the day that the professor lectured about how male roles are also structured by gender assumptions and patriarchy, they seem to have forgotten it. Gender is not just about women. Gender is about everyone.
Tuesday Talks: Between Plotters and Pantsers
Charlie Cochet on outlining – with a technique very similar to my own.
As a writer, one of the questions I’m asked often is in regards to plotting. “Are you a plotter or a pantser?” What if you’re a combination of both? I can safely say I fall somewhere in between. I don’t plan out every single detail before I start my story, nor do I sit down in front of a blank document and allow my muse to take the wheel. Heaven knows where I’d end up.
Is Your Author Website Working Against you? Top 10 Things to Avoid on your Author Site or Blog
Anne R Allen talking about the wort irritations on author blogs and websites that put readers off coming back.
Worst of all—I used to follow a couple of bloggers who put up a separate “teaser” post a few days before they actually posted. This “promise” post had the same header as the real post and went out to subscribers as if it were a notice of actual new content. After at least six visits to the blog only to find a two-sentence teaser for “next Friday’s post,” I unsubscribed. There is NO reason to do this to your readers. You are not filling them with anticipation for your upcoming post. You are inviting them in for a meal and then serving nothing.
Why Authors Need an Author Brand
Jacob Z Flores on the tricky subject of branding for authors.
Well, I needed to let readers know who I was, and that’s what an author brand does. It tells readers what type of books they can expect to read from me. It also gives them something to remember. After all, we associate the golden arches with McDonalds and the bitten apple with, well, Apple. I had given my readers nothing to associate with me.
How to Title Your Book
An old from 2010 that I only just found. Agent Rachelle Gardner wrote a very useful post about how to come up with a good name for your book. Something I often struggle with.
Let’s start by acknowledging a few things. The publisher is usually responsible for the final decision on title, and in the query stage, it’s not that important. In fact, some agents have said they don’t pay any attention at all to titles. But at some point, you’re going to want to think seriously about this. Your title is part of the overall impression you’re creating about your book. It can set a tone and create an expectation. Whether you’re pitching to an agent, or your agent is pitching to publishers, I think you want to have the strongest title possible.
Getting to the Editor: follow the guidelines
An always useful reminder, by K J Charles, about how to get your book read by agents and editors.
Everyone is writing a book. Literally, everyone on this planet, all seven billion of us, with the single exception of an author I contracted three years ago and who still hasn’t bloody delivered, is writing a novel. Getting yours in front of an editor is hard.
How To Write Sex Scenes When You’re a Prude
Romance author Misha Crews on the Romance University blog talks about breaking through the shyness barrier when writing sex scenes.
Okay, “prude” is definitely too strong a word. That title should probably read: How to Write Sex Scenes if You’re Somebody Who Doesn’t Want Anyone to Know that You Even Think About Sex Much Less Enjoy It. Or maybe: How to Write Sex Scenes If Your Mom Reads Your Books and It Grosses You Out to Know That She’s Reading Your Descriptions of Hot Naked Sweaty Cavorting.
Giving purpose to your novel (Don’t shoot yourself with Chekhov’s gun)
Another link from editor and author K J Charles, this time about making sure everything in your novel is there for a reason.
This principle doesn’t just apply to a dramatic object like a gun (the heroine’s karate skills / the rickety bridge over the chasm / the serious contagious illness in the village). It applies to pretty much anything you choose to put in a prominent position.
Do You Have Obsessive Promotion Disorder?
James Scott Bell talks about letting the promo and marketing take over your life.
Like talking about a malady that seems to be striking more and more writers each week: Obsession Promotion Disorder. There is a fine line that runs between healthy marketing and OPD. To be a well-balanced and productive writer, you’ve got to stay on the right side of that line.
Things writers hear and how the advice affects readers – it’s a wild world out there!
Cassandra Carr about some of the less useful “truths” about writing.
In the wild world of publishing, writers — especially beginning writers — are inundated with advice from all sides. Agents, editors, other writers, your Aunt Flo…everyone has an opinion. And as a writer, especially one just starting out, how can you distinguish the helpful advice from something that might ruin your career?
The Myth of the Constant Writer
Molly D Campbell talks about how sometimes a writer comes to the writing life late.
Writers write. At least, that is what I always thought. A writer is born, not made. From the time he or she can just barely form the letters of the alphabet, there are little sentences, tiny stories.
When I was a child, I read about Jo March writing in her chilly garret, crunching on apples and bending over a candlelit trunk. Anne Shirley also wrote stories and poems from the time she was adopted by Matthew and Marilla. These were fictional writers, but I also knew about Emily Dickinson, Beatrix Potter, the Bronte sisters, et. al., who wrote volumes as they grew up.
Picture of the month
From this collection of strange pictures from Google Earth, caused by some kind of software thingummy (that’s the technical term.) They kind of make you go “so, we are living in the Matrix after all!”
“At first, I thought they were glitches, or errors in the algorithm, but looking closer I realized the situation was actually more interesting — these images are not glitches. They are the absolute logical result of the system.”