Late New Year Links

Happy new year all! Here are some lovely links to start the new year. For 2015 I’m moving the links post to the second weekend of the month.

And They All Lived Epiloguey Ever After
Anna Campbell on Romance University talks about epilogues and defends their presence in Romance novels.

And do you know what? If I was writing those first four books today, I’d give them epilogues too!

Why? Because romance readers ADORE epilogues.

They want to linger with the characters. They want to see that everything is OK. They want to know if there are babies or other major changes for the people they’ve come to love. Readers want one last happy glimpse of the world the author has created.

Why It’s Important To Finish Your Shit
Making some new year resolutions? Make some to finish stuff. Chuck Wendig explains why you should.

Writing a novel is not a natural state.

Telling stories is — “Hey, Dan, you hear what happened at work today? A guy took a shit in the pasta extruder.” But the stories we tell to friends and family tend to be short, punchy, and very personal. Sitting down and making up a much longer story, and then shaping that story into something resembling a brick, well, that’s a whole other matter. It doesn’t come naturally and so you have to train yourself to write these things. And part of writing them is…?

That’s right, class. Finishing them.

“Infodump,” “Mary Sue” And Other Words That Authors Are Sick Of Hearing
Charlie Jane Anders on io9 about terms used to criticize writing that are so overused they don’t mean much any more and it’s time to bin them.

Science fiction and fantasy readers are in a constant dialogue with their favorite stories. At conventions, workshops, and online, people geek out about their favorite books. But sometimes, authors get a little tired of the same old memes. Ten authors told io9 about the writing terms they’d like to see retired.

Is Talent Overrated? 8 Things that are More Important than Talent for Writing Success
Another great post from the always excellent Anne R. Allen blog. Talent is just the start.

I often run into new writers who want to be reassured they have talent. They sometimes ask me to read some fledgling work in hopes I’ll pronounce them “talented.”

I always decline. (A wise author never goes there.) It’s not simply that I can’t fit one more thing into my already jam-packed schedule—it’s also that I have no way of telling if people have talent.

I can only tell if they have skills. And if they don’t have skills—which they probably don’t if they’re newbies—their job is to acquire some, not rely on some stranger’s opinion of what abilities they were born with.

Always and Never – Two words that NEVER apply to writers
Holly Jacobs writing on Romance University blog about how damaging absolutes are in writing advice.

I told her what I’m going to tell you…if you attend a workshop where the speaker tosses around the words ALWAYS and NEVER as if she’s tossing a volleyball around on a beach…leave.

There’s no such thing as ALWAYS and NEVER in writing. There’s no such thing as an absolute in writing.

Self Editing Tips: Development edits
KJ Charles with advice on the editing that gets your MS into good shape before you inflict it on betas, editors or publishers – don’t even think about doing so to readers at this stage!

I gave my ‘troubled’ first version of Flight of Magpies to two readers. They both – politely, lovingly, reluctantly – said, ‘It’s boring, there’s not enough plot.’ It hurt. It hurt so much I junked 30K words and started again. It would have hurt a lot more if I’d released a substandard book and heard ‘It’s boring, there’s not enough plot,’ on every review blog, and spoiled my beloved series with a crappy instalment that I could never get rid of.

Self Editing Tips: Line edits
And the next post! Tips for when you get down to the nitty gritty.

This is probably one for its own blog post since every scene has its own demands and every writer her own stylistic issues. Play it out in your head, though, remembering your characters’ relative height, weight and position, to double check that all the bits line up. If you’re using metaphors or euphemisms, keep them under control, and consider that if people actually want to read sex at all, they can probably cope with something a bit more plain-spoken than ‘her intimate dewy petals’.

Thinking Too Much: Violence, Masculinity, Queerness, History & Shame
Alexis Hall on changing ideas of masculinity and queer identity and how the way we view the past has been coloured by the stories told about it.

I’m not a historian—so this might be bollocks—but I also feel the way we understand these semi-constructed queer historical narratives is heavily shaped by Victorian ideas about morality. Obviously, people have been buggering each other since Sodom and Gomorrah, but that era was kind of the first time ideas about queerness-as-identity-or-malady emerged in a way that made them public, accessible, and—in a way—discussable. As a consequence, we’re all now really familiar with the Queer Narrative of Shame and Ruin, but I’m genuinely uncertain how much it reflects what actually happened. and how much it simply offers us a Victorian morality tale of vice and punishment and the triumph of social order.

Kazuo Ishiguro: how I wrote The Remains of the Day in four weeks
We NaNoWriMo loving writers have a new hero and a great book to cite when anyone tries to tell us “nobody can write a good book in four weeks.”

So Lorna and I came up with a plan. I would, for a four-week period, ruthlessly clear my diary and go on what we somewhat mysteriously called a “Crash”. During the Crash, I would do nothing but write from 9am to 10.30pm, Monday through Saturday. I’d get one hour off for lunch and two for dinner. I’d not see, let alone answer, any mail, and would not go near the phone. No one would come to the house. Lorna, despite her own busy schedule, would for this period do my share of the cooking and housework. In this way, so we hoped, I’d not only complete more work quantitively, but reach a mental state in which my fictional world was more real to me than the actual one.

STFU About Anyone “Taking a Chance” On You
Skylar Dawn wants writers to remember that publishers are doing them a favour by publishing their books nor agents when accepting them as clients.

Gratitude is a good thing (never, ever lose sight of it). Yes, be thankful for the excellent people you work with. Be thankful for their guidance and advice, the experience they share with you.

But any chance taken on your work is a calculated financial decision.

Perception, Reality and Misguided Depression
DP Denman on why you should avoid comparing your career to that of other writers – because what you think is going on with them may not be accurate. Short, but thought provoking.

I’ve found several parallels between his career and mine. It seems authors and life coaches have similar problems. Everybody has had a book perform far below expectations. Few admit it at the time because perceived success is as important to an author’s image as actual success. Readers don’t want to take a chance on a book the author admits only sold 20 copies.

Let’s make 2015 the year of the T
Aleksandr Voinov sees a different reaction to recent online revelations about an author’s identity than happened in the past. An emotional and personal post.

I’m sensing a seriously different atmosphere in this part of my world – we’ve had a case of gender-bending catfishing, and so far, the pitchforks aren’t out to go hunting trans* people. Just three years ago, they would have. (I can’t speak for the Goodreads M/M Romance moderators, who used to love a little bit of trans* baiting, like upper-class twits keep hunting foxes for fun. But in my world, I’m not seeing a trans*-directed witch hunt because somebody did something stupid/thoughtless/callous by pretending to be a different gender).

Sue’s seven useful things to know about writing for money
Sue Moorcroft talks about some things you need to know if you want to write for some of that filty lurce.

2 You need to know about publishing. Publishing is an industry and has to make money to survive. If you don’t learn something about how it works you’re making your life unnecessarily hard.

The importance of “small victories” and the beauty of “saving a draft”
Crimson League blog talks about how small steps can get you to your goals. Don’t waste the small blocks of time while waiting for big ones you may never get.

Now that school has started back up and I’m back to full-time teaching duty, I’ve been searching for ways I can be more productive blogging. And this option of saving a draft occurred to me this morning at 6:05 a.m., when I realized I had ten or fifteen minutes of free time before I had to get ready for work.

Why not start a post and save it to finish later?

Wedged bear in great tightness
Finish with the funny – Alexis Hall’s tragic tale of the time he was trapped in a photocopier.

I am kind of the opposite of a photocopier-whisperer. In my vicinity, photocopiers break. I don’t even have to be using them. My mere existence is enough to make them jam, break, burst, explode, and otherwise malfunction. Needless to say, I usually get other people to do my photocopying for me. Today, I’d left it a bit late, and I don’t like to take the one perk of my job for granted, so I undertook the task myself. About one third of the way into my notes, the photocopier jammed.

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