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My writing day: Hilary Mantel

theguardian.com – Saturday April 16, 2016

Some writers claim to extrude a book at an even rate like toothpaste from a tube, or to build a story like a wall, so many feet per day. They sit at their desk and knock off their word quota, then frisk into their leisured evening, preening themselves.

This is so alien to me that it might be another trade entirely. Writing lectures or reviews – any kind of non-fiction – seems to me a job like any job: allocate your time, marshall your resources, just get on with it. But fiction makes me the servant of a process that has no clear beginning and end or method of measuring achievement. I don’t write in sequence. I may have a dozen versions of a single scene. I might spend a week threading an image through a story, but moving the narrative not an inch. A book grows according to a subtle and deep-laid plan. At the end, I see what the plan was.

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Why writing diverse children's books is tough

theguardian.com – Tuesday April 12, 2016

What’s the point of having another shoddily-realised feisty girl or two-dimensional token wheelchair sidekick to add to the massive pile of rubbish attempts at diversity? Author Ross Montgomery on why it’s hard to write diverse – but that’s no excuse not to.

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Breda Wall Ryan on writing In a Hare’s Eye

irishtimes.com – Wednesday April 6, 2016

When judge Kevin Barry announced my debut poetry collection, In a Hare’s Eye (Doire Press 2015), as the winner of this year’s Shine/Strong Poetry Award at Mountains to Sea dlr Book Festival, it marked a new milestone on my poetry journey, a journey begun in childhood. Poetry came to me first at the ear. My mother used to recite narrative poems to us as bedtime stories and I was captivated by their rhymes and rhythms. I can still recite swathes of poetry I learned on the cusp of sleep, that tipping point between the conscious and the unconscious. The marvellous imagery and skewed logic of dreams is one of the places my poems are born. If I held a sure key to that otherworld of the unconscious, I’d go there more often, to bring back embryonic poems. One strand of my poetry explores the borders between the real and surreal, between acquired and personal mythologies. A second strand concerns nature, the environment, and our human mistreatment of the earth.

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Let It Go! Improve Your Writing and Free Yourself From Attachment

huffingtonpost.com – Monday April 4, 2016

In writing and in life, it behooves us to remain as free from attachment as possible. Now, you may immediately wonder, “What does that mean? Especially when it comes to writing?!”

Here are a few thoughts to consider. It’s not uncommon for writers to occasionally get attached to certain words, phrases or passages, which inevitably feel essential to getting our message or story across. The problem with such “attachment” is we find ourselves disappointed when we’re told (by editors or agents or publishers or readers), “That part didn’t really work for me.”

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It’s the Cover, Stupid! Why Publishers Should A/B Test Book Covers

digitalbookworld.com – Thursday March 31, 2016

Never judge a book by its cover. So the saying goes, yet consumers do it all the time. Every publisher and bookseller knows that covers sell books. But do consumers also form expectations from looking at the cover? Well, based on the results of some of the initial reader analytics data at Jellybooks, we think they do.

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The Book Inside You: The Business Of Selling It

boston.cbslocal.com – Thursday March 31, 2016

There is inherent passion in the written word, but there is also the business of selling it.

Enter Esmond Harmsworth, a founding partner of Zachary Shuster Harmsworth Literary Agency, which has offices in Boston and New York. He says every agency has a common ingredient – “You have to insanely love books.”

Harmsworth reads at least one full-length book a week, and the first 20 pages of another ten. He generally makes a quick decision.

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Writing Secret No. 1 Is Keep Your Day Job

courant.com – Tuesday March 29, 2016

Here's everything you wanted to know about writing and publishing but were too afraid to ask: These are the questions that come up at the end after bookstore readings. I thought it made sense to address them all at once.

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Inspiring writing advice from the greatest women authors

telegraph.co.uk – Monday March 28, 2016

Virginia Woolf (centre) died on this day in 1941. The pioneering modernist writer addressed the position of women after the war throughout her fiction, but with her collection of essays, A Room of One's Own, she contributed advice and thinking that still sounds fresh and relevant for women writing today. 

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Writing Sci-Fi? First Understand How Elephants Aren't Dragonflies (Op-Ed)

space.com – Saturday March 26, 2016

Animals come in all different sizes, but the laws of physics mean that you can't just arbitrarily scale up a dragonfly to the size of an elephant and expect the body plan to result in a functioning creature. 

For one thing, mass increases much faster than other qualities like strength or surface area as you scale up a body, and so the legs and wings of an elephant-size dragonfly would have to be proportionately much larger to support the extra weight — and it's doubtful muscle power could be sufficient to propel such a creature into flight.

Moreover, insects are generally small because they rely on diffusion to distribute oxygen to interior cells instead of the active oxygen-pumping systems found in animals like mammals. This imposes an upper limit on just how big an insect can get. It's true that there were gigantic dragonflies — still not the size of elephants, however — during the Carboniferous period (as well as housecat-size cockroaches and other horrors), but the oxygen level in the atmosphere at the time was much higher, and that likely played a role in making such bodies viable.

Let's pause for a moment and give thanks for the fact that we don't have to live in a world of pet-size cockroaches and meter-long scorpions.

All of this presents an analogy for fiction. It's tempting to think of novels (the elephants) as scaled-up short stories, or short stories (the dragonflies) as miniaturized novels. But having written both 100-word drabbles as well as 200,000-word epic fantasies, I can assure you that's not the case.

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The Impossible Task of Writing Historical Fiction

publishersweekly.com – Friday March 25, 2016

Kelly Kerney's outstanding novel Hard Red Spring spans the entire 20th century in Guatemala's history through four vivid voices. Kerney, who spent a decade writing the book, talks about the difficult task of fictionalizing the past.

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