Friday, October 23, 2009

Friday's Interesting Links, and on the move

There's no reading section this week, because I'm not done with the book I am reading, and you'll find the selection on links is a little sparse. I've had an incredibly productive week, but it took me a bit to get back into the swing of things on the Web after the Muse Online Conference, so I didn't have time to read as many links as I usually do. You might also notice that my interesting links have a new home, along with all my posts from both my Thinking and Writing blogs. I've been planning to consolidate onto my website for a while, but I was having some difficulty getting Blogger to give up the old material. As you can see, that is no longer a problem.

So, if you're reading this on Stray Thoughts, please click over to Tales to Tide You Over and visit my home. For those of you already here, welcome. I hope you enjoy your stay and check back frequently. If you haven't been here before, please click the HOME link at the top of the page to see the rest of my site.


A good reminder about sanity in this gig:

YES! We are artists making point by point decisions, not computers churning out results to specification, and I'm a programmer so actually understand the work that getting those results take. It sounds very hoity-toity, and I don't mean it in the way that avoids editing, but applying a "rule" blindly can weaken the text more than using all the tools in the chest as they were intended.

Fun comic about plot twists:

A thought on the meta message being sent by YA fiction:

Because we all need the reminder that our carefully edited and polished manuscripts will be edited again after acceptance:


An approach to synopsis writing with potential:

Some agents want to see how you found them, some want to see who you think you write like, and others want the exact opposite. It only goes to show just how different agents can be.

Proof that publishing runs in cycles. The "standalone" label has become powerful again. A lowdown on the state of series:

A peek into "almost there":


Robots are cool, but that this is a local discovery is even better :).

And on the other end of the spectrum, a Bronze Age town:

Friday, October 16, 2009

Friday's Interesting Links

What I'm Reading

Drowned Wednesday by Garth Nix - This reads like Alice in Wonderland for a younger audience. Crazy things happen in an unreal world all tied to a human boy who has been chosen as the one to fix everything. It's fast-paced, full of reluctant choices, and holds together well. Though I enjoyed Nix's YA voice in Abhorsen, I think his MG voice is actually more my style in this particular moment because there's a true feeling of the fantastical, more so than in a constructed fantasy world where everything has a logical basis. This novel is crazy, wild, and random...and yet is not so random that I was ever lost. It's just a fun read.

Veniss Underground by Jeff Vandermeer - This book was written just for me, or so it seems, combining a mystical, philosophical cyberpunk world with a touch of the sapience question and what it means when genetic manipulation removes humanity. These are all elements that have spoken to me a time or two, or three or four. The tone of the novel is surreal, the information offered through a mist where the POV characters can only see as far as they can stretch their hands and yet still strike out as best they can to change what they don't want to admit is true. Powerful writing that's very evocative. I don't think this book is everyone's cup of tea, and there are many moods when it wouldn't have called so strongly, but if you're interested in the test of human psyche, in the way people react when thrust into extreme conditions of civilization, this is a solid contender. The novel itself becomes Living Art, something you'll understand when you read it.


Author Sally MacKenzie describes her agent quest:

Tips for live pitching:

This may be an old article, but Ethan Ellenberg's advice on finding the right agent still seems true based on my experience so it's worth checking out:


What authors can expect from their publishers for marketing:

The last two weeks before publication:


Another older article from 2002 on the publishing industry and poor choices. The sad part of it is that the contents are still true today as far as I can tell, except for the reading percentage which is heading up.

Measuring a career:


The agent/author relationship demystified:

A follow up on the concept that there's more to being a writer than just words:

This truly belongs in science by content, but is most interesting for character creation in my mind. How about those psychopaths?

A take on backstory--how, why, and when to use it.

The cold hard truth about writing for kids:


Human/robot weirdness is not limited to humans. And they are looking at using this research to help treat autism.

A new pterosaur!

Imagine having one of these appear next to you:

Friday, October 09, 2009

Friday's Interesting Links

What I'm Reading

I'm going to the World Fantasy convention at the end of this month so I thought that I'd take a peek at books by those I know will be there. So far, I've finished Abhorsen by Garth Nix and Vamped by Lucienne Diver, and enjoyed both.

Abhorsen is the third book in a series, and it says something about the author's skill that when I opened my mind to his world, I had no trouble at all following what was going on. (Admittedly, that's a skill of mine, but if the author hasn't put the hooks in place, I'm just as lost as someone who can't do that.) The story is an end of the world/good vs. evil tale with likeable characters who are struggling to handle what they've been given. Both of the main characters, Lirael and Sam, grew up expecting one thing only to have another thrust upon them. They have to figure out what to do without help from their parents or anyone with knowledge, though they do have the somewhat mysterious support of the Disreputable Dog and Mogget, a talking cat. This story is told in a complex world at the border between what we'd consider normal, and a land where magic is alive and powerful. The culture clash doesn't get a lot of play in this book (though the implication is that more was in the earlier books), but the crafting of magic and how it works is beautifully creative. I already started another book of his, and will probably be picking up more.

Vamped is an interesting choice to read because Lucienne Diver is one of the agents I would love to have. I picked up her book in part to see what attracts her, but that dual purpose was lost after about chapter two. Everyone is clear that chicklit is dead, but me, I see chicklit is actually undead :). I first ran across this in Michelle Rowen's fun vampire novels, and Vamped is another along these lines, if aimed at a younger crowd. The main character, Gina, is an unrepentant popular girl with her attention fixed firmly on clothes and shoes, only she wakes up in a hideous dress her parents forced her to have...oh, and she's dead. While part of me doesn't understand the appeal of the popular girl when so many readers don't fit that profile, it doesn't stop Vamped from working, even with me. Gina is quickly forced to accept a much more complex reality, and watching her struggle with no longer being the top dog, the choices she makes, and how she matures makes for a wonderful read. Now I have to track down Revamped next year, not because I want to understand Diver, but because I can't wait to see what Gina will be up to next. I've already passed the book on to a friend because it's too fun not to share. Almost makes me regret not having a girl child :).


Forget about the guilt. Think about what you are writing for in more than monetary terms.

Exploring a definition for YA:

I like this post because it contradicts a "should." I have problems with "should." All writers have one thing in common...we write. How we write, how we function creatively, though, is pretty unique from writer to writer, so how could there be a one solution for everything?

Don't know whether to put this in writing or social, but it's an interesting look at positive and negative space:

An excellent blog post on staying true to yourself as a writer:

I like the balance in this view of writers' required tasks:

Dialogue tips:


A breakdown of promoting your novel:

A peek into the editing process post acceptance:

One writer's perspective on social networking online:

A breakdown of expectations, suggestions, and costs for self-promotion:

An agent's perspective on unrealistic expectations from authors:

Tips on making a successful author event from the perspective of an indie bookstore owner:

An editor's perspective on what authors should expect of editors:

A very straightforward look at author websites:

How to get an agent:

Solid in-person pitching techniques and suggestions:

Agent Query's list of publishing blogs to follow:


Interesting list of environmentally friendly options coming in the future:

The Mayan die-out interpreted thanks to space-based observations:


A wonderful breakdown of what YA is, and what it isn't:


I couldn't pass this up. A while back, I adopted the tagline of Tales to Tide You Over for my business cards with the visual of a message in a bottle, so a list of real stories with the same theme is perfect to share:

Friday, October 02, 2009

Friday's Interesting Links

Books I Recommend

Walking Dead by C.E. Murphy

The fourth in her Walker Papers urban fantasy series, Walking Dead offers a wonderful look into how Joanne is maturing into her shamanistic powers, though she still has doubts. I must admit, when I saw zombies, I was curious how she'd tackle one of the popular genre tropes in a way that is unique. Let's just say that while her zombies are traditional, everything surrounding them is not, from what brings them to life to Joanne's reaction and solution. Even if you haven't been following the series, this one is a fun read. And when you're done, go back and read the rest of them :).


Some thoughts and examples of bad and good author websites.

A look at author promotion successes:

A look at what a publicist can and cannot do:

Dealing with rejection letters:

Tips on researching agents:

Editorial acquisitions process explained:

A solid examination of copyright infringement's costs and excuses.

Questions to ask interested agents:

The ten commandments of blogging. I'm still working on this one.

Tips on oral performance of written work

I've included links to instances when authors fail to respond appropriately. How fun to have one that is the reverse:


The nuts and bolts of creating sympathetic characters.

Techniques for overcoming procrastination:

When an editor requests a rewrite...

Some good observations about querying:

Suggestions for managing writing projects:

On writing characters that are different from you:

A great evaluation of the value in a crit and how to find that value:


Mastering Twitter:

Handling anxiety:


A manifesto against censorship:


A look at a 4.4 million-year-old ancestor: