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(Don’t) Relax (Too Much)

By G. Miki Hayden
Instructor at Writer's Digest University online and private writing coach

firstwriter.com – Monday October 1, 2018

I told my friend about a grammatical glitch I found in Outside magazine:

A man came upon a dead bear cub and leaned over and touched it, but the bear had been electrocuted by a downed electrical wire, and the man, too, was zapped. (He lived but had terrible physical damage.) At any rate, the article said the bear had been laying on a live wire. Of course, obviously, the bear had been lying on the wire. (I tweeted the editor and was ignored—so much for the power of social media.)

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"Survival Training For Writers": How T.R. Darling Writes Twitter Microfiction

forbes.com – Saturday September 29, 2018

Thomas R. Darling is a television news producer working in Lansing, Michigan, for his day job. The rest of the time he moonlights as a Twitter microfiction author under the handle @QuietPineTrees. He crams entire universes of storytelling into the scant character limits of the social media platform. The results are usually highly conceptual, designed to spark the imaginations of his followers.

Since joining the platform in January 2015, Darling has earned a name for himself: His account has 16.6 thousand followers, he's added a Tumblr account that's even more popular, and he's now crowdfunding a book collecting his best stories and a host of new ones. He gave me a written interview, in which he was, thankfully, a little more verbose then when writing his fiction.

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How to write a killer crime novel, by Val McDermid (who’s sold 15 million of her own)

marieclaire.co.uk – Tuesday September 25, 2018

For the first in our new Writers Bloc series, prolific crime writer Val McDermid tells Charlotte Philby the secret to writing 32 books in as many years

Val McDermid is the multi award-winning author of 32 crime novels, which have sold more than 15 million copies worldwide and been translated into 40 languages. She is married to the professor Jo Sharp, and has a teenage son. McDermid divides her time between Cheshire and Edinburgh. Her latest novel Broken Ground is published by Little Brown (£18.99)

You’ve written 32 books in as many years with no signs of abating, and had your work adapted for TV. What are the most important lessons you’ve learnt about successfully drawing readers into the worlds you create?

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$400M Fiction Giant Wattpad Wants To Be Your Literary Agent

forbes.com – Monday September 24, 2018

It took a less than an hour in 2013 for Anna Todd to change her life. The Army wife and part-time babysitter had spent a lot of time reading fan fiction, stories by amateur writers about existing fictional universes and real-life celebrities. So her erotic tale about Tessa and Hardin—a wholesome college freshman and a tattooed bad boy who is a thinly veiled stand-in for singer Harry Styles—came together quickly when she sat down to type the first chapter of After on her phone. Todd posted it to Wattpad, one of the world’s largest destinations for online reading and writing.

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The Writing Dead

nytimes.com – Friday September 21, 2018

The mystery novelist Reed Farrel Coleman was watching TV in May 2013 when his agent called and asked him, “How would you like to be Robert B. Parker?”

“It took me about a nanosecond to say yes,” Coleman wrote on his website. “We all dream about unexpected magical moments — chance encounters, phone calls, emails — that will transform us, but do we ever believe they will happen?”

These days, when a popular author dies, financially savvy heirs often commission someone to keep writing his or her books. (There’s even a term for this: “continuation literature.”) Sophie Hannah writes Agatha Christie novels; David Lagercrantz channels Stieg Larsson; Anthony Horowitz has taken on Ian Fleming. That’s what Robert B. Parker’s family decided to do when the crime novelist died in 2010. “Spenser was a cash cow,” Parker’s wife, Joan, told The Boston Globe in 2012, referring to her husband’s most beloved character, a Boston private eye. “And we felt that Bob would want to see Spenser live on.” In 2011, they hired Ace Atkins to write more Spenser novels, and in 2013 they asked Coleman to take on a different series, the one starring the Massachusetts cop Jesse Stone.

For Coleman, saying yes was the easy part. “It’s one thing to be offered to step into a great man’s shoes. It is quite another to stare at the blank screen and figure out what to do,” he says ruefully. So he called Atkins. “He gave me some tips on how my life was about to change,” Coleman says. “He suggested that I never go to the fan sites. Of course, that was the first thing I did.”

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11 Tips On Writing Horror From The Greats Of The Genre, Including Mary Shelley, Shirley Jackson, And Tananarive Due

bustle.com – Friday September 21, 2018

As the autumn mists roll in, and prestige horror movies make their triumphant return to cinemas, it seems like the perfect time to settle in with your beloved word processor and your favorite hot beverage and write some ghost stories. But how does one make a piece of writing scary? Where's the line that turns a cheesy people-eating demon into the stuff of nightmares? How does a writer create a spine-tingling atmosphere of tension and fear while staring at a computer screen and eating cereal directly out of the box? Here are a few tips from the horror greats for writing creepy fiction (and quite possibly terrifying yourself in the process).

Of course, as with all writing, there is no one-size-fits-all method for crafting a great horror novel. You might be a person who is entirely unfazed by classic monster movies, and who rolls their eyes at creepy campfire tales. Or you might be someone (like me) who routinely has to hide their novelty clown-shaped pencil cup for fear that it will spontaneously come to life. Your fears and your writing methods are all your own. But no matter what your approach, these horror-writing tips will give you a few extra thoughts to mull over as your write your tales of terror:

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Penguin Random House Is Building the Perfect Publishing House

newrepublic.com – Wednesday September 12, 2018

When Penguin and Random House announced in the fall of 2012 that they intended to merge, Hurricane Sandy was barreling toward New York City, America’s publishing capital. It was an instant metaphor for headline writers: “As Sandy Loomed, the Publishing Industry Panicked.” People inside both companies worried about their jobs; people outside the companies worried about the market power of a new conglomerate comprised of the country’s two largest trade publishers. Agents and authors, meanwhile, worried that the consolidation would further drive down advances.

Random House’s top brass insisted that there was no need to panic. “The continuity will far outweigh the change,” Markus Dohle, the CEO of what would become Penguin Random House, told The New York Times when the merger was completed the following summer. “We have the luxury to take the time before we make any strategic decisions. There is no need to rush.”

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Scottish crime author Val McDermid got into writing for the money – and reveals why she loves ‘books with dead bodies’

thescottishsun.co.uk – Tuesday September 11, 2018

AUTHOR Val McDermid remembers the exact moment she knew she’d be a writer — when she read in a kids’ story that you could get PAID to pen books.

Award-winning Val, who has sold more than 40 million of her crime novels, said it was the popular Chalet School stories that sparked her future career.

She said: “The moment of realisation came for me when I was nine years old.

“I used to read the Chalet Girls books and one of the characters grew up to become a writer.

“I remember distinctly reading it — it was on a right-hand page about halfway down, about her getting a cheque from her publisher.

“I thought, ‘Oh my god, you can get paid money for this?’ I don’t know if I thought people maybe just wrote out of the goodness of their heart and the books arrived on the shelves.

“But I thought I could do that, I could tell stories and lies, and I could get paid money for it.

“From then, when people asked what I was going to do when I grew up I said a writer and people would laugh, people from my background didn’t do that.”

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E-book pricing: because you’re worth it

irishtimes.com – Monday September 10, 2018

You’re a self-published author. You’re digitally publishing and you are responsible for pricing your e-book. How do you decide the price?

There are two schools of thought in the interminable self-publishing pricing discussion. One believes firmly in the pile ’em high and sell ’em cheap philosophy. The other side holds that to be a horrible undervaluation of our talents and time.

I’m firmly in the second camp. I’ve long been of the opinion that self-published authors selling at “remaindered bin” prices are doing themselves, and self-publishing authors generally, a huge disservice. They’re not valuing their own work sufficiently highly, and they’re encouraging readers to place less value on independently published work than traditionally published. They’re saying, “my book is not as good as one you would find in a bookshop, so I can’t charge as much for it. The only way I can encourage you to buy it is if I either give it away free, or charge what a bookshop would charge for books that nobody wants (the ‘remaindered bin’)”.

Why has that become an accepted tactic?

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Should writers only write what they know? What I learned from my research

theconversation.com – Tuesday September 4, 2018

As an academic in creative writing, I attend a lot of literary events. One question I can always count on being asked is, “can I write characters of other backgrounds?” This has been a growing concern since Lionel Shriver at the 2016 Brisbane Writers Festival unleashed a tirade against what she called “censorship” in writing – referring to criticism of her book The Mandibles.

The recent ABC Q&A episode, Stranger Than Fiction, in conjunction with the Melbourne Writers’ Festival, showed the many sides of the “write what you know” debate. Dr Michael Mohammed Ahmad and Sofie Laguna argued that space should be given for marginalised groups to represent themselves. Maxine Beneba Clarke pointedly discussed when appropriation can be harmful, as was the case with Shriver’s representation of Latino and African American characters. Meanwhile, Trent Dalton argued that appropriation leads to a good story, which also takes empathy and care.

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