Sunday, October 23, 2011

Sunday Links: October 23, 2011 Edition

With just over a week remaining until NaNoWriMo kicks off, I finally got some decent planning time in yesterday. Nowhere near as much as I probably should have, but enough that I felt good about what I had accomplished. I've got the main very-high-level story arc nicely laid out and the main character's family tree about 40% complete. I want to get to the point where I have a reasonably-detailed outline done by the end of next Sunday. By the way, if you are looking for an online tool to make a family tree, Family Echo seems to work really well.

Normally I wait until the very bottom of these links posts to tout anything of my own, but I do want to draw attention to my new "Call & Response" Flash Fiction series. The basic idea here is that readers can propose prompts for me to write a flash fiction based on. The prompts can be anything at all: a picture, a song, a concept, whatever. I'll pick my favorite prompt, write a story based on it, publish it on the blog AND send a $5 Amazon gift card to the person who provided the chosen prompt. This seems like it could be a lot of fun for all of us.

And, yes, along with counting down the days to NaNoWriMo, I'm still counting down the days until I can replace phone with one of Sprint's new iPhones. Playing with the one my wife bought has definitely convinced me that this is a good choice for me.

Now for this week's links!

"What is NaNoWriMo Anyway?" (Cameron at Write on Edge) - If all my talk of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) has you wondering just what it is, this servers as a good introduction to the project. There are also some useful tips for those tackling the project for their first time. 

"Five Things You Should Never Do in Epic Fantasy" (K. V. Johnsen guest-posting at Adventures in Sci-Fi Publishing) - I loved this blog post. It talks in detail about some of the potential "gotchas" which can serve to yank your reader out of your story by reminding them that it's been written by an author who lives in our world. There's a lot in here about different types of anachronisms which can creep into your work, but also other things to consider such as economic complexities. The lessons here can apply to anyone doing work which involves world-building.

"Don't Panic! 10 Dos and Don'ts for When Someone Else Has Already Written (and Published) Your Novel" (M. E. Summer - Sticking to the Story) - A great list of tips for those who have gotten deep into working on a novel only to discover that there's a very similar book already out there. There are, after all, so many ideas out there and what's superficially similar can be very different once you peel back some of the layers. The blog author here does a good job of discussing both practical tips and psychological tips relating to this situation.

"Are You an Amateur or a Professional?" (guest post by Damyanti Biswas at My First Book) - An interesting post about labels and how they affect the mentality of writers. Good stuff in the comments below the post, too. In my opinion, the ultimate issue here is that amateur has two different meanings with vastly different connotations. Andrew Luck, a college football quarterback likely to be the first pick in next year's NFL draft, is an "amateur athlete" because he is not (supposed to be) directly paid for his athletic talents. But, if someone describes a story as being "amateurishly written" you can bet they're not thinking of Andrew Luck. In my mind the best advice, as noted by several on this page, is to not worry about labels and focus on doing what it is that you want to be doing.

"It All Starts With a Great Profile Picture" (Angela Orlowski-Peart) - Angela does a nice job here of talking about why, if you're trying to "brand" yourself as a writer (or anything else for that matter), having an appropriate and "Great" profile picture for sites like Twitter, your blog, etc. is important.

"Don't Be Perfect, Be Prolific" (Joel Runyon at Blog of Impossible Things) - Joel isn't talking specifically about writing here, but it's great advice all the same. Hardly any writer is going to come up with a brilliant novel on their first attempt, or write the perfect short story without having written dozens of lousy ones first. Yes, it may happen to one person in a million, but if you're looking to get published are those really the odds you want to be fighting? You've got to keep working at always getting better, and Joel covers that, too. But it's hard to get better if you're waiting for the day when you're good enough to start.

Additionally, here's a recap of the posts from this week on my blog:

"Good Idea/Bad Idea Tips for Working With a Critique Partner, Part One" - In Monday's post I talked about things not to do when you're on the receiving end of a critique partner relationship. Soon, I'll be posting thoughts on being on the critiquing end and I'll wrap up this mini-series with a post on tips relating to the overall process of working with a CP beyond just the giving/receiving of feedback.

"Vacation in Paradise (3rd #Writecampaign Challenge)" - The third and final challenge of the Platform-Building Writers' Campaign was issued Monday. Wednesday's blog post was my response to the challenge, a flash fiction about an island vacation which got off to a rocky beginning.

"#FridayReads - October 21st, 2011 Edition" - I've been blogging every other Friday about what I've been reading recently. This entry updates on a novel I finished reading, a short story collection I've continued reading, and a novel I started reading.

"Call and Response Flash Fiction: Request for Prompts" - As mentioned above, I'm starting a combination Flash Fiction series/contest interactive series on my blog. All of the details are in this post.

That's it for this week's links! I just noticed that this will be my 50th post to this blog. Thanks, as always, to the people who come and read them!


  1. Some helpful stuff in there. Thanks for posting it. I particularly enjoyed "5 things" and "profile picture." Your flash fiction idea sounds like a ton of fun. I like the idea of prompts much more than "challenges" with odd requirements.

  2. Great post -- I love having so many interesting links at my fingertips. Thank you for including my "profile picture" post :-)

  3. @Daniel, glad you like the flash fiction idea. Looking forward to seeing what clever prompt you suggest!

    @Angela, you're very welcome. Glad you like the links!