February Links

The shortest month, but plenty of nice links for you!

Writers: How Succeed at “Building Platform” Without Really Trying
Always useful Anne R Allen with platform building tips. Including “comment on blogs”. So what are you waiting for? Start here! 😀

I know some excellent writers who never even get a nibble on their query letters, and will spend thousands on writers’ conferences and courses, but won’t put in even a few minutes a day on social media. They won’t bother with anything online because they’re “serious” authors.

Well, they’re probably going to remain serious, unpublished/unread authors unless they start doing something about their online profile.

The 10 Commandments of Critique Groups—A Lesson in Survival!
Thinking of joining a critique group? Some hints about how to get the best out of it.

So why put yourself through the turmoil, you might ask? Easy answer—so you will improve your craft. By no means am I suggesting that you rely on a critique group for the rest of your life, nor that it is the right thing to do for every individual, but from personal experience I must tell you that finding a solid group of writers who are not only willing to read your work, but who give encouragement and much-needed advice—correction: honest and trustworthy and unbiased advice—can make all the difference between a lifetime of rejections and that seemingly unobtainable sale.

Write How You Write
Megan Derr in an Outside the Margins post on Prism Book Alliance, about trusting your process and going with what works for you.

I have spent far too much of my life doing what other people say. I’ve talked quite a bit about how people find me frustrating, that I can be too loud, too blunt, etc. I’m not saying these things to brag. I’m an asshole, you’ll just have to learn to deal or get out. No, I’m not about that. That’s bullshit. Don’t be an asshole. I am saying these as facts. I’m awkward and shy, that too often comes out blunt in a way I never mean and swear I’m never doing. It’s a large source of my lack of self-confidence, that’s I always fuck up what I say or how I say it.

Writing Night Scenes
Rayne Hall on Romance University about how to most effectively use scenes set at night.

To create the right atmosphere, you need to trigger the reader’s senses differently than for a daytime scene. In this post, I’ll show you the techniques professional fiction authors use.

Use different senses. In the dark or semi-dark, your PoV character will see less than in bright light, so use the sense of vision less and the other senses more.

In which I wonder whether romantic fiction can be feminist
Alison May considers this question, and asks the next one – is romantic fiction feminist.

I think the idea that romantic fiction is somehow anti-feminist comes from the idea that romance is about a woman being rescued by a man, or a woman needing a man and a relationship to, in some way, complete her and make her a proper member of society. Now, neither of those things are in any way necessary or desirable features of romantic fiction. You can just as easily write ‘Man who feels incomplete without woman’ (although that would probably be merely different rather than actually better). I try to write ‘man and woman who deal with their own issues and then decide to be together’, although I try to do that with jokes and ideally at least one comedy sword fight.

Things Romance Readers Are Sick of Hearing
Ceilidhann on Bibliodaze responds to the latest romance bashing posts.

Another one came to the romance community’s attention today, and the response was as you’d imagine, mostly because the post itself fell into all the tired and familiar holes we’re dishearteningly used to. Each point feels as though it has been ticked off a bingo card to meet some kind of lazy assumption quota. As such, I often feel little to no desire to refute such generalisations – why should I bring my A game when they didn’t? However, it’s important to challenge these assumptions when confronted with them, especially since they’re so rooted in misogyny. So with that, here are a few of the many traps you’ll see in pieces written by people who don’t exactly read romance, and the best ways to respond.

How and Why to Promote Your Old Blog Posts
Vicky Charles has some great ideas about bringing life back to your blog archive.

Lots of our content is posts that are relevant only there and then: posts about something that happened in the news this week, personal posts about what we got up to this weekend, posts we’ve written to join in with something else that was going on in the wider community. Those posts are probably not something you could share again six weeks or six months later. But there are other posts, which we generally refer to as “evergreen” – because their content is relevant again and again. Posts like recipes, how-to posts or tutorials, or experience posts that can be helpful to others can all be re-shared time and again. Then there are the seasonal posts which will be just as helpful to your readers next Halloween/Easter/Christmas.

How Writers Ruin Their Amazon Links (Yes, You Probably Do It Too)
Gwendolyn Kiste is about to add a job to your To Do list.

Now I’m not usually one to judge, but I’m going to be honest. This is bad. REALLY. BAD. As in, it could cause Amazon to remove legitimate reviews of your book, it might hurt your book’s place in search results, and if nothing else, it proves to the world that you don’t know the ins and outs of how Amazon works.

Dissecting The Blurb: It’s A Formula, Not A Torture Instrument
Blurbs aren’t so hard, says Tara Sparling. You just need to know the formula.

The above is a perfect example of what a blurb shouldn’t do. Going off on a tangent, and then over-explaining it. A lot of blurbs-in-progress tend to say too much about things which aren’t sexy. This might sound odd, but think about it. Some points in a synopsis might be essential to the story (or beloved by the author), but they do nothing to incentivise a reader to pick up your book. And above everything, you want people to pick up your book. That’s what a blurb is for.

Kazuo Ishiguro Has a Brilliant Response to People Who Think Genre Fiction Doesn’t Matter
Top literary writer in standing up for genre shock! Charlie Jane Anders explores Kazuo Ishiguro’s defence of genre fiction.

And Ishiguro also argued that our whole educational system, and thus our cultural values, have been based on creating productive citizens who can help grow our economies. There’s been an emphasis on conformity and a certain type of seriousness, because that’s what our fast-growing economy demanded over the past few decades.

Said Ishiguro, “Education’s task was to get pupils to abandon the fantasy that comes naturally to children and prepare them for the demands of the workforce.”

3 Things To Remember When Writing Action Scenes
Some tips from Gareth L Powell on writing convincing action.

Concentrate on what your character sees and hears and feels. Let the epic sweep of the battle take care of itself. Nine times out of ten, they won’t even know if their side’s won until it’s over. The best way to immerse your reader in the fight is to focus entirely on the specific impressions of your viewpoint character.

Sex, Misery, And Cliffhangers: How I Write Fanfic
Selina Churchill on Buzzfeed about what fanfiction has taught her about writing.

1. Twenty-four hours to save the world.

Fanfic thrives on peril: kidnap, pursuit, the enemy advancing slowly with a loaded weapon. Bring it on, then dot dot dot, more next week! The best fan fiction ends each chapter clinging to a narrow ledge of lust and/or despair, causing readers to type reviews that plead for the next instalment. I always included cliffhangers in my writing, but lately they have reached Matterhorn proportions.

Shame on You AOL/Huffington! NO More Literary Booty Calls
Kristen Lamb on one of this month’s biggest controversies in the writing business.

So this assclown Hull believes unpaid workers are more authentic and that quote alone is enough to make me throw up just a little bit in my mouth. Authentic. Can you guys imagine any other business saying this and getting away with it? Any other business so flagrantly exploiting hard working people and getting off scot-free?

Wait. They don’t.

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