Five Links 4/11/2020
1. https://megdowell.com/2020/04/03/writers-just-relax-it-will-change-your-life/ “You might not know it, but you generally do just about everything better when you’re relaxed.
When I took voice lessons in college, my instructors spent more time telling me to relax (physically) than just about anything else. I clench and tighten my jaw a lot because of my anxiety, and you can’t actually sing properly without loosening your jaw. I quite literally had to start going to therapy to improve my mental health so that I could physically relax enough to perform correctly. (It helped with other things, obviously, but … you know.)
Years later when I started trying to teach myself the violin, I couldn’t figure out why I was struggling so much to get the proper techniques down. It turns out I still tense up every single muscle in my body when I’m doing things. That makes playing an instrument extremely difficult, too.” This might be hard to do at this time, but we need to remember who’s with us. Our family. Our faith. Our belief. Let that get you through.
2. https://nailyournovel.wordpress.com/2020/04/06/writing-resolutions-making-them-and-keeping-them-ep-14-free-podcast-for-writers/ “Welcome back to the rerun of my radio show, So You Want To Be A Writer. In today’s episode you’ll see one glaring hazard of the seasonal show – the new year issue that’s no longer at new year. But today’s a new week! And, more seriously, we’re all getting used to new normals, so perhaps the material in this show is timely after all.
We’re covering everything you need to harness your creative zeal, get your projects moving, set good habits, keep going when hurdles get in your way.
You might have noticed our inspirational music choices. Obviously you fast-forward through them if they’re not your bag, but I have to give a warning about one of today’s. It’s the Portsmouth Sinfonia. If you don’t know the Portsmouth Sinfonia, make sure you’re not operating heavy machinery. I first heard them while driving and I nearly crashed.
Asking the questions (or most of them) is independent bookseller Peter Snell. Answering them is me!”
3. https://www.septembercfawkes.com/2020/04/how-book-is-like-baby.html “Story time: When I had been out of high school for less than a year, one of my friends had her first baby. I still remember some of the advice her mom gave her. Something along the lines of, “Everyone wants to put their baby on a schedule, but you know, the baby will let you know when it needs something. The baby will cry when it’s hungry, when it is wet, or when it is tired. It will let you know.”
Now, I’m still not a parent, and I’m sure life can be more complicated than that (and that people wished their baby’s needs were a little clearer), but something about that statement stayed in my nineteen-year-old brain. Maybe part of it was the relief it brought in knowing that any frustration that might come from trying to enforce a set schedule, would be avoided.
For the last couple of months, I’ve been thinking about how a book is like a baby.
You study and plan and prepare and pick names. You might even envision a whole path your “baby” will take. You might prewrite and outline and organize.”
4. https://www.livewritethrive.com/2020/04/06/incidental-characters-that-make-your-novel-zing/ “Minor characters are part of your cast of characters. They come “on stage” from time to time and serve specific purposes in the story. They don’t have huge, front and center roles, but they’re important to the overall plot.
The characters at NASA trying to get Mark Watney home from Mars in The Martian have bit parts, but without them, the story fails. Same with the crew of Watney’s ship, his pals who make the hard decision to turn around and go back for him, committing to many months’ delay in returning to Earth.
There are few moments with these minor characters, but if they were removed from the story, there would be no story to speak of. So, remember, they are only minor in the amount of stage time they have in the pages of your book. But they are not minor in value or purpose.
Incidental characters are in a different category. They can be removed from your story and it wouldn’t truly impact it. Their absence would not equate to novel failure. However, I will venture to say that sometimes it’s the incidental characters that add that special ingredient that makes a novel terrific and stand high above the mounds of other good novels.
It may perhaps be counterintuitive to say that incidental characters often have a big impacting role in a story, but I’d like you to pay close attention to this and consider how you might work incidental characters into your story.”
5. https://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/how-writing-saves-us/ “Tick-tock. The clock rolls on—marking time for all of us who are in the day-by-day progression of processing our understanding of and reaction to the nearly global and mostly voluntary quarantine in response to the startling arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic.
My own emotions have been all over the map—from a rational and pragmatic outlook one minute…
…to having all my germaphobic tendencies massively”
Research & Fun Bits:
1. https://whenangelsfly.net/2020/04/03/5-dramatic-techniques-to-transform-your-writing-nicholas-c-rossis/ “ALLi, the Alliance of Independent Authors, recently published a post on dramatic techniques by Jules Horne, author of Dramatic Techniques for Creative Writers.
With a background in scriptwriting, Jules is perfect for explaining how the dramatic techniques used in theaters and movies can power up your writing and make your storytelling bolder, more engaging, and more compelling. After all, these techniques have been test-driven for centuries in front of unforgiving live audiences, and they work!
Here are five ways you can use them to transform your fiction writing.”
2. http://www.fantasybookcafe.com/2020/04/its-time-for-women-in-sff-month-2020/ “It’s April, and for the ninth year in a row, this month is dedicated to highlighting some of the many women doing wonderful work in speculative fiction! Starting tomorrow, this blog will be featuring guest posts by women doing work in science fiction and fantasy, discussing everything from their experiences and inspirations to thoughts on writing and speculative fiction to the current pandemic. I’m incredibly excited about sharing their essays with you over the next few weeks!
Women in SF&F Month was created after some discussions that took place in the online science fiction/fantasy book community around March 2012 regarding review coverage of books by women and the lack of women blogging about books being suggested for Hugo Awards in fan categories. Seeing the responses to these—including the argument that women weren’t being reviewed and mentioned because there just weren’t that many women reading and writing SFF—got me thinking about spending a month highlighting women reading, reviewing, and writing speculative fiction to show that there certainly are a lot of us. At that time, April was the earliest this could happen, and I was astounded by the number of authors and reviewers who accepted my invitation to write a guest post, as well as their wonderful pieces.
Things have changed a lot since 2012 and the years that closely followed it, but especially given that everything has seemed under threat lately, I think it’s important that women’s voices continue to be heard and have run the series every April since. One thing that has not changed is that I continue to be astounded by all the wonderful essays that are part of this series, and I am incredibly grateful to everyone who has written a piece for it.
There’s also an ongoing recommendation list project that has been part of it since the second year. In 2013, Renay from Lady Business not only wrote about her personal experience with finding it difficult to find books by women when she was starting out as a young genre fan but also asked readers to submit up to 10 SFF books by women that they loved. Those individual recommendations were made into a list containing the number of times a work was submitted, and we’ve collected new book”
3. https://nailyournovel.wordpress.com/2020/04/09/criticism-for-your-writing-how-to-seek-it-how-to-take-it-getting-feedback-free-podcast-for-writers/ “here’s a lot of criticism involved in being a writer. It’s part of every stage of writing a book. Early on, you need feedback to help you with your personal vision. Later, you might get input from publishing professionals – editors, literary agents, publishers. Some of them might reject your work! (Rest assured, this happens to all of us.) Finally, after all those thrashings, you’ll get opinions from readers and critics. We need thick skins at times; receptive hearts at others. We need to learn who to trust, who’s not a good fit for our aims, who to laugh off with a shrug. And alongside all these we have our harshest critics – ourselves, our hopes.
That’s what we’re talking about today.
Asking the questions is independent bookseller Peter Snell. Answering them is me!”
4. https://writershelpingwriters.net/2020/04/5-methods-for-writing-a-novel/ “et’s face it: the current state of events has thrown all of us into a tailspin. Some of us are juggling lots of new responsibilities while others are struggling to figure out what to do with our time. As hard as it is for the former group to fathom, this situation has provided an actual opportunity for many people to finally sit down and write. Maybe you’ve been putting it off, unsure where to start, and now the temporal barriers are gone. If you’re in this boat, Rachael Cooper from Jericho Writers is sharing some novel-writing methods that might give you a push in the right direction.
Writing a novel is not just a case of putting pen to paper and letting your imagination run wild—at least not all the time. For most writers, their novels begin with some form of structure. Planning for each twist and turn can be hard at first, especially if you don’t quite know how it all hangs together, but with any of these techniques, you’ll be fully prepared to plot your novel and make the most of your writing time.”
5. https://awriterofhistory.com/2020/04/09/setting-is-like-an-iceberg/ “o what exactly is setting as it relates to historical fiction? I’ll attempt to answer that, but I know that my answer will be incomplete. In addition, many of the items listed below also fit into the category of world building – I’m having trouble separating the two! We’ll explore world building later.
A few years ago, I wrote Time Travel – The Work of Historical Fiction where I listed all sorts of details I needed to explore to develop a novel set in 1870s Paris. Since then, other authors have written guest posts that have helped expand the notion of setting and I’ve done more digging on the topic. In this post, I’ve organized the components of setting into broad categories to make it more useful.”
Some Things More Serious:
1. http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2020/04/09/disjecta-membra-3/ “Once again I return not with a single blog post (because I can barely concentrate enough to manage that feat), but a prismatic one — a single blog post broken up into fragmented, colored beams. Please to enjoy. Or don’t. Don’t enjoy things. No obligations.
A good portion of my day is now spent as a digital hunter-gatherer. I eyeball our supply and try to loosely plan meals and such and then I’m like, I DON’T THINK WE HAVE ENOUGH EGGS OH FUCK OH FUCK and then I realize Easter is coming and so I spend an hour doing some kind of Internet deep dive trying to source local eggs, and I make a bunch of phone calls and then, boom, I get two dozen eggs and the day is saved. Until the next crisis. Do I have enough toilet paper? I better go check again, oh shit, oh shit. Can I wipe my ass with tree bark or an errant squirrel? Should I have some kind of toilet-side shower pail, a tabo?
Last night, part of my huntering-gathering was about cocktail ingredients. I know. I know. That is probably not healthy? I promise I’m not drinking any more, I’m just not drinking any less — zing! Ahem. No, it’s just, we have a lot of base spirits. I’m well-stocked on gin and whiskey and such, but then, things to mix? Not so much. And yes, you can drink whiskey straight, and I do, but these days I am a fancy man who sometimes likes to add in various syrups and occult reagents to my drinky-dranks. Or tonic, at least. I think tonic makes gin medicine. Right?”
2. https://telavivsferalcats.home.blog/2020/04/09/can-animals-show-altruism/ “Some people believe showing unselfish concern toward others’ welfare is something only humans are capable of, that it’s part of our social behavior. However, animals can be altruistic and compassionate, too, sometimes more so than humans.”
3. https://franceandvincent.com/2020/04/09/seeking-and-well-being/ “The human condition has changed little at the level of the soul and is unlikely to do so for a long time to come. Over the course of various workshops, the Silent Eye has ventured into the furthest reaches of past and future with its themes, drawing upon both ancient cultures and science fiction for inspiration. We have woven tales around sacred sites and explored the symbolism of myth… places outside of time. Place and time are irrelevant, the questions we carry may have changed over the centuries, but only by our ability to formulate them in ever more complex ways. The essence of those questions echoes back through our distant legends and will reverberate through our future. Who are we? Why are we here? And is the meaning of ‘life, the universe and everything’ something more understandable than ‘42’?”
Teaser Fiction & Poetry:
Book Reviews, Cover Reveals, & Author Interviews:
1. https://middlegrademojo.com/2020/04/09/mo-books-the-wonder-of-wildflowers-by-anna-staniszewski/ “The Wonder of Wildflowers is by far the most personal project I’ve worked on. It’s about a young girl who is an immigrant in a country that’s closed itself off from the rest of the world in order to protect its most valuable resource, a magical liquid called Amber. The idea was inspired by my own experiences as a Polish immigrant, acclimating to life in what felt like a magical new land. When I first had the idea of writing a story inspired by my own experiences, I started off by trying to write it as realistic fiction, peppered with a bit of humor. But the genre and voice just weren’t working. Then it occurred to me that perhaps this land didn’t just feel magical to my protagonist—perhaps it really was magical. Once I knew that about the setting, the voice and plot fell into place pretty quickly.”
2. http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2020/04/09/corry-l-lee-five-things-i-learned-writing-weave-the-lightning/ “Empire. Revolution. Magic.
Gerrit is the son of Bourshkanya’s Supreme-General. Despite his powerful storm-affinity and the State’s best training, he can’t control his magic. To escape the brutal consequences, he flees.
Celka is a travelling circus performer, hiding both her link to the underground and her storm-affinity from the prying eyes of the secret police. But Gerrit’s arrival threatens to expose everything: her magic, her family, and the people they protect.
The storms have returned, and everything will change.”
3. http://www.fantasybookcafe.com/2020/04/women-in-sff-month-k-s-villoso/ “Today’s guest is K.S. Villoso, author of The Agartes Epilogues series and Blackwood Marauders. The Wolf of Oren-Yaro, the first novel in her epic fantasy trilogy Chronicles of the Bitch Queen, was recently republished by Orbit Books with the next two books in the series following soon—The Ikessar Falcon in September and the new conclusion next year. I’m excited for the rest of this series since The Wolf of Oren-Yaro is exactly the type of book I love to read: a character-driven story with a vivid voice that captured my attention from the very first line and kept me riveted until the very end.”
4. https://robertawrites235681907.wordpress.com/2020/04/08/bookreview-wake-robin-ridge-by-marcia-meara/ “Marcia Meara, author of Swamp Ghosts and Finding Hunter, has set Book One of her Wake-Robin Ridge series amid the haunting beauty of the North Carolina mountains, where ghosts walk, ancient legends abound, and things still go bump in the night.
“A PHONE RINGING AT 2:00 A.M. never means anything good. Calls at 2:00 A.M. are bad news. Someone has died. Someone is hurt. Or someone needs help.”
On a bitter cold January night in 1965, death came calling at an isolated little cabin on Wake-Robin Ridge. Now, nearly 50 years later, librarian Sarah Gray has quit her job and moved into the same cabin, hoping the peace and quiet of her woodland retreat will allow her to concentrate on writing her first novel. Instead she finds herself distracted by her only neighbor, the enigmatic and reclusive MacKenzie Cole, who lives on top of the mountain with his Irish wolfhound as his sole companion.”
5. https://mariacatalinaegan.com/2020/04/09/the-secrets-of-hawthorne-house-by-donald-firesmith-genre-ya-mg-urban-fantasy/ “Matt’s life changes forever when a family of druids moves into the dilapidated Victorian mansion next door. The story of an unlikely friendship, the clash of two completely different cultures, secret magic, and a search for the lost Hawthorne treasure.
Fifteen-year-old Matt Mitchell was having the worst summer imaginable. Matt’s misery started when a drunk driver killed his mother. Then his father moved him and his twin sister to the small town of Hawthorne in rural Indiana, as far as his grieving father could take from the ocean that Matt’s mother had loved. At the new high school, three bullies are determined to make Matt miserable. And to top it off, Matt learns that the recluse who lives in the ‘haunted house” next door is none other than Old Lady Hawthorne, the town’s infamous witch and murderer. Matt’s terrible summer is turning into an awful autumn when something quite unexpected happens. Old Lady Hawthorne’s niece and her three children arrive, and Matt meets Gerallt.”
Office supplies: one.