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A Brutal—and True—Piece of Writing Advice from Toni Morrison

lithub.com – Friday May 13, 2022

The very first time I saw Toni Morrison in person was at an event in Boston, at a church, along with hundreds of people. The Beloved tour. I attended as a reader, as a Morrison fan. I’d had plenty of reader-only experience with books, but I knew next to nothing formal about writing then. Reading as a writer is a higher calling, and a whole different world. I had no writing tools at the time, though I did have some facility; I loved words—but the tools you need to write stack up and can be complicated. I could identify and define imagination, but I did not know the concepts of setting or drama or scene. I knew that language was critical, but how few words I knew then! I was hungry, eager, reaching—but I was ignorant of exactly what writers needed to know and do.

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Is there a secret to writing a bestselling book?

smh.com.au – Friday May 13, 2022

How do I write thee? Let me count the ways … no, there are too many to count. Every writer has made their own journey, and no two are quite alike. So how can you possibly teach anyone how to write, say, a novel?

Despite the difficulties, there have probably never been so many writing courses and guides on offer, and people eager to take them up. Two of the latest books by Australian writers are perfect illustrations of how different writing advice can be. Both are eminently absorbing, encouraging and inspiring for the novice. In other ways, they are poles apart.

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Writer’s essay on why she plagiarized her book removed for … plagiarism

theguardian.com – Wednesday May 11, 2022

An author’s online essay on why she used plagiarized material in a novel pulled earlier this year has itself been removed after editors found she had again lifted material.

Jumi Bello’s essay, I Plagiarized Parts of My Debut Novel. Here’s Why appeared just briefly on Monday on the website Literary Hub. Bello’s debut novel, The Leaving had been scheduled to come out in July, but was cancelled in February by Riverhead Books.

“Earlier this morning Lit Hub published a very personal essay by Jumi Bello about her experience writing a debut novel, her struggles with severe mental illness, the self-imposed pressures a young writer can feel to publish, and her own acts of plagiarism,” the publication announced. “Because of inconsistencies in the story and, crucially, a further incident of plagiarism in the published piece, we decided to pull the essay.”

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18 Literary Agents Reveal “How to Land a Book Deal” Read more: https://www.digitaljournal.com/pr/18-literary-agents-reveal-how-to-land-a-book-deal#ixzz7SgnLz1je

digitaljournal.com – Sunday May 8, 2022

“Literary agents can change an author’s life,” says book publicist Scott Lorenz, president of Westwind Book Marketing. “A high-quality agent will review your manuscript, coach you along the way and pitch the book to the right publisher who would be interested in your work. In the end, they can help you land a lucrative book deal.”

Why does the agency model still exist? In the words of literary agent Jeff Herman, book publishers do not want to deal with unpublished writers. Agents will screen, vet, and qualify authors so publishers know if it came through the agent process it’s worthy of their review.

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Just Reject Me

gawker.com – Saturday April 30, 2022

The first piece of fiction I ever wrote was in middle school, though I’d say I “started writing” with the first glimmer of public-facing intention in high school. There’s a couple slapdash short story collections of mine floating around Amazon somewhere and, as embarrassing as this is to admit, I did once do thing where I printed out copies of these books and then intentionally left them places, like the New York City subway, for strangers to find so they could be utterly transformed by my prose. I was a teenager, so I didn’t know any better and have long-since stopped.

The problem for me, when I was first starting out, was that I didn’t know any published writers and so didn’t know I had to submit my work anywhere. This is a problem for a lot of young writers — the publishing industry is opaque, confusing, and frequently demoralizing. Eventually I sort of figured it out. I sent my first piece of fiction via the ubiquitous literary submission manager Submittable in January of 2017; I have since been rejected 185 times. My latest was back in January of this year.

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Don Winslow: The Complicated Ethics of Writing Violence in Fiction

time.com – Wednesday April 27, 2022

There are some hard ethical questions in the writing of crime fiction.

For me, the most difficult one is how to portray violence.

For one thing, should you depict it all?

And if so, how do you do it with some sense of morality?

I wrestle with this issue all the time. It’s a fine line to walk. On the one hand I don’t want to sanitize violence—I don’t like presenting murder as a parlor game, or worse, a video game in which there are no real consequences. On the other hand, I don’t want to cross that thin line into what might be called the pornography of violence, a means to merely titillate the worst angels of our nature.

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The 25 best podcasts for writers

mashable.com – Monday April 25, 2022

Audio can be a bit of a contentious subject among written word lovers. But we're not here to re-litigate the age-old debate over whether listening to audiobooks counts as "reading" (it does, by the way).

Writing can be a lonely profession (or currently unpaid passion, until it can become your profession). But podcasts can bring listeners a sense of community no matter how isolated they are in their interests, both emotionally or geographically. As the illustrious history of famous literary circles goes to show, it often takes a village to produce the singular creative geniuses of an era.

So for established authors or amateur creative writers with big aspirations alike, there's a lot to be gained from the virtual book clubs and writer communities behind the podcasts listed below. Whether you're looking for guidance on the writing process, seeking to learn the fundamentals of great literature or about the publishing industry, or looking for muses to refill your well of inspiration, we've got you covered. From fiction to memoir, screenwriting to playwriting, and prose to poetry, there's an endless world of audio storytellers just waiting to fill your ears with the written word.

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On Writing a Social Novel, Giving Clear Feedback, and Outlasting Doubt

lithub.com – Wednesday April 20, 2022

I met Melissa Chadburn in 2011, at the Tin House Writer’s Conference, where I taught her in workshop. You already know that I’m going to tell you that she was brilliant and kind and funny, even back then, so I’ll skip to the part where I get really stoned.

This happened on the final night, when the poet D.A. Powell (bless his soul) proffered me hits off a blunt the size of a drumstick. At some point, I passed along to Melissa the little secret I had been saving for just such an occasion: the Croatian publisher of my debut story collection (“My Life in Heavy Metal”) had—after much anguished consideration—come up with a title that would capture the essence of my work for her readers: Sexburger U.S.A. 

Oh my god, did we laugh.

Over the next five years, Melissa did two things for which I am still grateful. First, she took to calling me as Sexburger. Second, she sent me various drafts of her novel for review, absorbing, in the process, some pretty blunt feedback.

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How to Get your Book Published with Abigail Bergstrom

zoella.co.uk – Wednesday April 13, 2022

We caught up with Abi to talk all things book-writing and publishing. From this year’s book tropes and trends to cooking up her very own bestseller, how to find the right agent for you and the recipe for getting that elusive book deal...

Abigail Bergstrom is a literary agent, author and publishing consultant. She has worked in publishing for over a decade and is an expert in navigating the cross-section between digital and print, speaking at international conferences on the subject. 

She’s edited some of Britain’s most prominent feminist voices, was nominated for Literary Agent of the Year in 2020 and was listed in The Bookseller 150 for shepherding over thirty titles onto bestseller lists and building some of today’s biggest book brands. 

In short, dear reader, she’s one multi-hyphenate lady. Not only does she have a wealth of knowledge from the publishing field thanks to her time at Gleam Titles and heading up her own publishing consultancy Bergstrom Studio, she also knows a thing or two about what it takes to become an author, having recently published her first novel What A Shame

We caught up with Abi to talk all things book-writing and publishing. From this year’s book tropes and trends to cooking up her very own bestseller, how to find the right agent for you and the recipe for getting that elusive book deal, if you want to break into the book industry and see your novel gracing the shelves of your local Waterstones, Abi is on hand to offer some invaluable advice on how to get your voice heard. 

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Ocean Vuong on Taking the Time You Need to Write

lithub.com – Saturday April 9, 2022

The Japanese have this idea of the color of a poem. Bashō talks often about the colors of poems. I think what he means by that is the moods and the tones, the sort of aesthetic principles of them. And I think that you can’t just sit down and write that, you have to really embody it. That’s the hardest part: figuring out what tone or what mood you’re writing towards. A lot of this has to do with the themes you’re working with, or the mode that you want to present. That takes sometimes weeks, months — years, really — to develop before language comes to fruition. Language has its own register, like music, and depending on the “octave” or the tone that you’re using, there are connotations, there are meanings, implicit in tone.

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