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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: writer resources, Most Recent at Top [Help]
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1. New Visions Award: What Not to Do

Stacy Whitman photoStacy Whitman is Editorial Director and Publisher of Tu Books, an imprint of LEE & LOW BOOKS that publishes diverse science fiction and fantasy for middle grade and young adult readers. In this blog post, she discusses what she is—and is not—looking for from New Visions Award contest submissions.

This year is the second year we’ve held our New Visions Award, a writing contest seeking new writers of color for middle grade and young adult science fiction, fantasy, and mystery. Tu Books is a relatively new imprint, and so is our award, which is modeled after the New Voices Award, now in its 15th year of seeking submissions.

Much like the editors who are in charge of the New Voices Award for picture books, for the New Visions Award, I love seeing submissions that follow the submissions guidelines and stories that stand out from a crowd. I look for science fiction, fantasy, and mystery stories that understand the age group they’re targeted at, with strong characters, strong worldbuilding, and if there is a romance, I hope that it avoids cliches.

During the first New Visions Award, our readers made notes on the manuscripts explaining what they enjoyed and what made them stop reading, particularly the things that made them not want to read further than the sample chapters in the initial phase of the contest. For the next few weeks, I’ll delve a little further into those things that made readers stop reading, and then we’ll talk about making your writing have the zing that makes an editor want to read more.

Today, let’s cover the most obvious reasons a New Visions Award reader might stop reading immediately.

  • Main character isn’t a person of color
  • Unclear if main character is a person of color (& not made clear in any supporting materials)
  • Basic formatting rules ignored: single-spaced, no tabs, no paragraph breaks, rules of punctuation ignored to the point it was impossible to read the text
  • Chapters at times seemed to be combined to ensure more text would be read, which made them super long and terribly paced
  • Duplicate submission from the author (stopped reading the duplicate—of course we read the original!)
  • Already read as a regular submission and didn’t see any significant changes
  • Author not eligible (published previously in YA or MG, not a person of color, not based in the US)
  • Book was a picture book (this would be a New Voices submission, not a New Visions submission) or a short story (not long enough to be a novel)

The obvious solution to making sure your submission is right for this contest is to make sure to read the contest submission guidelines before sending your submission. If you are not a writer of color, or if you live in a country outside the US, we do want to read your manuscript, but not for this contest. Watch our regular submission guidelines for when we’ll open again to unsolicited submissions.

Make sure you format your manuscript in a way that it can be read. If you’re new to writing, be sure to have someone check it over for typos, correct grammar and spelling, correct punctuation, etc. We won’t reject your manuscript for a typo or two, but there is a point at which the story is no longer being communicated because the reader gets tripped up by the errors. Make sure your manuscript is as clean as you can make it.

Next time, we’ll talk about hooking the reader with your story. Happy writing!


Filed under: New Voices/New Visions Award, Publishing 101, Tu Books, Writer Resources Tagged: formatting manuscripts, weneeddiversebooks, writing award, writing contest, writing tips

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2. How to Find Time to Write When You Have 11 Children

Pamela TuckPamela M. Tuck is the author of As Fast As Words Could Fly, winner of our New Voices Award and named to the International Reading Association’s Teacher’s Choices list. Tuck lives in Boyerstown, Pennsylvania with her husband and their 11 children. In this post, we asked her to share advice on how to find time to write. 

One common question people ask me is, “How do you find time to write?” I simply answer, “I don’t find time, I steal it, and play catch-up later.” In other words, I MAKE time.

Growing up as an only child, writing served as a source of entertainment for me. I found that expressing my inner thoughts on paper became therapeutic and helped me cope with stressful situations. So, as a mother of 11 children, writing, quite naturally, became a safe haven.

I don’t have a daily writing routine like some writers: waking up at 5 am, going for their morning run, eating a cup of yogurt topped with homemade As Fast As Words Could Flygranola, then sitting at their desk, with the picturesque mountainous view, and writing several pages of their next best-selling novel for 5 hours. Instead, my day begins with waking 11 excessively sleepy children, facing mountainous heaps of laundry, in between cleaning, cooking, homeschooling, and potty training. You get the point. So here’s how I steal prioritize my time for writing.

When I homeschooled my children, I incorporated timed journal writing assignments for everyone (including me). I had my children think of random words, and then I’d write the words on cut pieces of paper, fold them, and place them in a basket. We all picked one word from the basket. I set the timer for either three or five minutes, and we wrote anything we wanted about the word we picked. Some words prompted poetry, non-fiction pieces, nonsense pieces, and creative story starters that could be developed into longer works. That’s just one way I kept my inner writing flame lit.

I usually find inspiration to write from reading articles, seeing interesting photos, hearing conversations, or from life experiences. If I stumble across a story idea, I simply allot time, either during the day or in the evening, to write. These one or two hour time allotments serve as refreshing rewards during my busy days. Fortunately for me, my husband encourages my writing projects and he, along with my children, comply with my writing antics of having complete silence and/or isolation while I write. I use the time allotments to do research, if necessary, and to read other books similar to the type of story I’m writing. My family serves as a huge inspiration for my writing. They are my “sounding boards” as I bounce ideas around, my audience, as I piece those ideas together, and my cheerleaders when those ideas find a home.

So, going from one end of the spectrum (as an only child, with plenty of quiet time for writing) to the other (as a mother of a large family, with hardly anyYou are a writer. You don’t have to write on someone else’s schedule. Write on your OWN schedule. quiet time at all), I would like to share a little piece of advice that was given to me by my husband. After attending my first writing conference with the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators in June 2007, and hearing all the wonderful writing regimens of different authors, I thought my lifestyle would hinder my dream of becoming an author. My husband told me, “You are a writer. You don’t have to write on someone else’s schedule. Write on your OWN schedule.”

My husband found out about Lee & Low Books offering a New Voices Award and encouraged me to write my dad’s story of desegregating the public school system in 1960s Greenville, NC. My dad’s experiences of determination and courage inspired me to take my husband’s advice. I submitted my story to Lee & Low Books in September 2007. In December 2007, I received a call announcing me as the winner of the 2007 New Voices Award! Now, my dad’s family story has transformed into a picture book, As Fast As Words Could Fly, that can be shared with many families across generations. So, regardless of your lifestyle, your limitations, your oppositions…grab those ideas that are close to your heart, and write the story that only YOU can write. Unleash your dreams, and let them fly!

New Voices Award sealMore information:

The New Voices Award is given each year to an unpublished author of color for a picture book manuscript. Find more information on how to submit here.


Filed under: New Voices/New Visions Award, Writer Resources Tagged: As Fast As Words Could Fly, New Voices Award, writing advice

2 Comments on How to Find Time to Write When You Have 11 Children, last added: 7/28/2014
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3. How Does One Tackle Chronic Writer’s Block?

How does one tackle chronic writer's block? For Sting, it means writing songs that feature the stories of other people. In a presentation delivered at the TED 2014 conference, the Grammy Award-winning musician talks about the inspiration he found in the shipyard workers he knew from his youth. We’ve embedded the full talk in the video above. For more on storytelling, check out the "How to Tell a Story" playlist curated by the TED team. What are your tips for battling writer's block?

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4. Seth Godin Recommends Books on HugDug

Author Seth Godin has been using a new online community called HugDug to share reviews of his favorite books and authors. He has reviewed a couple of books on the site including Steve Krug's Rocket Surgery Made Easy. "One of the biggest benefits we've found in the way people use Hugdug is their ability to share the work of people they respect," he explains on his blog. "Today more than ever, ideas spread horizontally, from person to person, not from the top down, not from an ad or from a talk show or from a promotion." HugDug is an interesting new online community from the founders of Squidoo that is worth checking out. It is currently in beta and is designed as a site to allow people to share recommendations and discover products and reviews. The site lets you read reviews by reviewer, as well as by category and then links to the product's listing on Amazon to make it easy to purchase the item. There is also a featured charity every month.

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5. Ask an Editor: Worldbuilding in Speculative Fiction, Part I

Stacy Whitman photo

Stacy Whitman is Editorial Director and Publisher of Tu Books, an imprint of LEE & LOW BOOKS that publishes diverse science fiction and fantasy for middle grade and young adult readers. Parts of this blog post were originally posted at her blog, Stacy Whitman’s Grimoire

During the first week of June, I attended the Asian Festival of Children’s Content in Singapore. At the conference, I met writers from all over Asia and the Pacific, discussing craft, marketing their books at home and abroad, and translation. I even ran into Mark Greenwood and Frané Lessac, the Australian author/illustrator team behind the LEE & LOW picture book The Drummer Boy of John John. I enjoyed all the panels and the chance to see Singapore and meet so many people from the other side of the world—it gives you a perspective as an editor you might not otherwise have.

One of the panels I participated in was a First Pages event, in which I read about 20 first pages of picture books, middle grade, and YA novels and then gave feedback on whether the pages were working for me and if I’d want to read more.

Stacy Whitman with author Mark Greenwood and illustrator Frané Lessac

Stacy Whitman with author Mark Greenwood and illustrator Frané Lessac

For the fantasy and science fiction entries, a common problem was—and is in any new writer’s writing—revealing enough about the world that you create interest and intrigue, but not too much. Too much, and you risk alienating your audience, confusing them, or simply not hooking them. Reader reactions are so subjective. One person might think there’s not nearly enough worldbuilding in a book (“give me more! MORE!”) and another might say of the exact same book that what worldbuilding there is was way too confusing (“I couldn’t keep all those made-up words straight!”).

So how do you, as the author, balance the needs of such a wide range of readers when you’re working in a complex world? And how do you balance the need to establish your characters, setting, and plot with the need to spool out information to your reader to intrigue them rather than confuse them?

This is a question that almost every author and editor of speculative fiction struggles with, particularly because we, as veterans of the genre, are already more comfortable with a lot of jargon than your average teen reader, particularly teen readers whose preference for fantasy runs more toward the contemporary paranormal variety.

Singapore 2

Stacy Whitman at the famous Singapore merlion fountain

There are a number of reasons why I think Twilight was so popular on such a broad scale, but one of the biggest ones was the relatability of the initial situation. Not vampires showing up at school—before that. We start with a simple story about a girl who is leaving her mother behind in Arizona to live with her father in an unknown small town on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington. Relatable: divorced parents, fish out of water, adapting to a new school and a new climate.

Think about all the really big fantasy hits of the last decade or so in children’s and YA fiction: Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, Twilight, Hunger Games, Divergent. Of these books’ beginnings, only the dystopian tales start all that far outside the everyday experiences of your average young reader, and even The Hunger Games starts with a relatable situation—a coal mining family lives in a desperate situation and must hunt for food.

While most kids who would have access to The Hunger Games don’t live under a despotic regime, it’s plausible that it could happen in the real world. Every kid has been hungry at some point, though perhaps not as hungry and desperate as Katniss. Every kid has taken a test in school, and sometimes it feels like those standardized tests do determine your everlasting fate, as they do in Divergent, even if Tris’s Abnegation explanations are a little tedious. Harry Potter and Percy Jackson are ordinary kids going to school, living somewhat normal lives (even if abusive ones, in the case of Harry) before their worlds change with the discovery of magic.

Stacy Whitman speaking on a panel at the Asian Festival of Children's Content.

Stacy Whitman speaking on a panel at the Asian Festival of Children’s Content.

There are three primary approaches to worldbuilding:

Reader learns world alongside character

Exposition: questions raised, then answered

“Incluing”: questions raised, then reader infers answers bit by bit

Next Thursday, I’ll go into detail about each of these techniques and give some examples. In the meantime, think about your favorite science fiction and fantasy books. How do they bring you into their world? What works best for you as a reader? Answering these questions about your own reading preferences can help guide you as a writer.

 


Filed under: Publishing 101, Writer Resources Tagged: fantasy writing, science fiction, Science Fiction/Fantasy, stacy whitman, worldbuilding, writing advice, writing resources, writing tips, young adult writing

0 Comments on Ask an Editor: Worldbuilding in Speculative Fiction, Part I as of 6/19/2014 11:55:00 AM
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6. Ask an Editor: Worldbuilding in Speculative Fiction, Part II


Stacy Whitman photoStacy Whitman is Editorial Director and Publisher of 
Tu Books, an imprint of LEE & LOW BOOKS that publishes diverse science fiction and fantasy for middle grade and young adult readers. Parts of this blog post were originally posted at her blog, Stacy Whitman’s Grimoire

Last week, I discussed why worldbuilding in speculative fiction can be so challenging for authors. How do we introduce a completely new world without infodumping or confusing readers? I gave some examples of worldbuilding done well in popular YA science fiction and fantasy: The Hunger Games, Divergent, and Twilight. In all these cases, the starting point is in some way relatable, or there is something about the character (Tris, Katniss) that hooks the reader. First pages should be character- and plot-driven, and worldbuilding should support rather than dominate. That gives these books an easy entry point and wide appeal.

There are three primary approaches to worldbuilding:

Reader learns world alongside character

Readers of Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, and Twilight figure out the world alongside the main character. Information is spooled out as the character learns it, so the reader doesn’t have to absorb everything at once. This is a low bar for entry, not requiring much synthesis of information. The character is almost a stand-in for the reader.

Exposition: questions raised, then answered

What about Hunger Games? Now it gets a little tougher. Suzanne Collins starts out with a perfectly relatable (if a tiny bit cliche) situation, the main character waking up and seeing her family. We get some exposition on Katniss’s family and the cat who hates her.

But it becomes non-cliche by page 2, when we learn about the Reaping. Ah! What’s the Reaping, you ask? We don’t know yet. Now the bar for entry is raised. There is a question, the answer for which you’re going to have to read further to find out. The infodumpage level is low, but there is still some exposition in the next few pages, letting us know that Katniss lives in a place called District 12, nicknamed the Seam, and that her town is enclosed by a fence that is sometimes electrified—and which is supposed to be electrified all the time.

Collins’s approach to spooling out a little information at a time is to explain each new term as she goes, but some readers think that feels unnatural in a first person voice because the narrator would already know these things, so why is she explaining them to the reader?

It depends on the story, in my opinion—Collins makes it work because of how she crafted Katniss’s voice. It is a very fine line to walk—I can’t tell you how many submissions I’ve received that start out with, “My name is X. I am Y years old. I live in a world that does Z,” an obvious example of how this approach becomes downright clumsy when not handled with Collins-esque finesse.

“Incluing”: questions raised, then reader infers answers bit by bit

Then there is the opposite end of the spectrum, in which the reader is given clues to work out rather than having any new terms explained to them. This approach needs just as much, if not more, finesse. It’s a process that some readers who are new to speculative fiction might stumble over the most, which is why I think there’s so little of it in middle grade and YA fantasy and science fiction. I’ve seen it called “incluing,” which is a silly word, but I don’t know of another name for it and the description of incluing in that Wikipedia link is exactly the kind of worldbuilding I—as a lifelong fantasy fan—prefer to see in the beginning of a book, particularly one set in a world that has no connection to our own, or if it’s in the future of our world far enough into the future that the society is unrecognizable to us, such as the society in Tankborn. Karen Sandler does a wonderful job at incluing readers as we read chapter 1 of the first book in the Tankborn trilogy.

The prominent example I like to give writers for this kind of worldbuilding is from The Golden Compass. Check out the first paragraph of that book:

“Lyra and her daemon moved through the darkening hall, taking care to keep to one side, out of sight of the kitchen. The three great tables that ran the length of the hall were laid already, the silver and the glass catching what little light there was, and the long benches were pulled out ready for the guests. Portraits of former Masters hung high up in the gloom along the walls. Lyra reached the dais and looked back at the open kitchen door, and, seeing no one, stepped up beside the high table.”

Pullman jumps right into the scene, with Lyra sneaking down the dining hall with her daemon. We’re hooked—she’s doing something sneaky, and we don’t know what. And we want to know. We don’t even know what the daemon physically looks like until paragraph 4, and even then we don’t know why he’s called a daemon or what makes a daemon special.

What is a daemon, anyway? We don’t know! In fact, this is one of the major conflicts of the book—we need to read more to find out about daemons, and further mysteries are revealed as we read that deepen our understanding of daemons and of Lyra’s world in general. As we discover more clues that intrigue us, we want to know more, and keep reading.

But the line between intriguing the reader and confusing the reader is very thin, and I would argue that for some readers it’s in a different place than for others. Those of us who are familiar with fantasy might be more willing to patiently wait for more information about daemons because we trust that this author will let us know what we need to know when the time is right. We know that they’re teasing us with this information so as not to overburden us within the first few pages of the book (or, in the case of The Golden Compass, because the reader can’t know what the majority of people in that world don’t know, either).

Tankborn coverIn situations in which you need to establish a world that’s entirely different from our own, I find that putting a character in a situation that’s somewhat familiar to the reader can help with establishing the unfamiliar. In Karen Sandler’s Tankborn, for example, Kayla has to watch her little brother instead of going to a street fair with her friends. While Kayla calls him her “nurture brother” instead of just her brother, it’s still a situation to which a lot of readers can relate, even if it is set on another planet and her brother is catching nasty arachnid-based sewer toads instead of familiar Earth frogs and toads.

M. K. Hutchins, author of Drift, approached it in a completely different way. She starts with a dangerous situation—a family on the run from authorities, splitting up. The mother, our main character Tenjat, and his sister Eflet are embarking on a terrible journey that’s almost certain death, setting off on a raft in the middle of the night into an ocean full of snake-like monsters, and leaving the family’s father and smallest brother behind to face unknown punishment. While perhaps no reader has been chased by authorities in the middle of the night, it is a dangerous situation and a parting of family—mixing the familiar (family) with the unfamiliar (a dangerous situation in a completely new setting).Drift

It’s the difference between showing and telling. Philip Pullman, Karen Sandler, and M. K. Hutchins all show us how their worlds works, rather than pausing to tell us how it works (“in this world, all people are born with an animal companion called a daemon”).

Telling can work, though, especially in small doses—Katniss’s voice is so conversational that the brief moments of telling in the first few pages of The Hunger Games work, particularly because Collins is mostly showing what Katniss is up to. The brief pauses to “infodump” feel like the reader is being told a story by a storyteller, like a friend telling a story over the kitchen table after a nice big meal would pause and explain something you didn’t understand (a friend who’s a very good storyteller). It’s an awareness of audience that most speculative fiction doesn’t have the luxury of.

Showing isn’t always better, and telling isn’t always bad, when done right and mixed in with showing. Whichever method you use, remember that sometimes readers will trip over new words so you need to give them as much context as possible without over-infodumping.

And here is where the art comes in. I can’t tell you what that balance is, but if you look at examples like the ones above, you’ll get a better feel for how much to reveal and how much to hold back in your first few pages—revealing enough to orient your reader and give them a sense of the differences of this world (while grounding them in something familiar like Lyra’s hallway or Katniss’s humble home) while seeking to avoid overburdening them with too much all at once.

What about you? How have you found the right balance of introducing your world without overburdening the reader? What books do you recommend that do this particularly well?

 


Filed under: Publishing 101, Tu Books, Writer Resources Tagged: fantasy writing, science fiction, Science Fiction/Fantasy, stacy whitman, Tu Books, worldbuilding, writing advice, writing resources, writing tips, young adult writing

0 Comments on Ask an Editor: Worldbuilding in Speculative Fiction, Part II as of 6/26/2014 5:51:00 PM
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7. Moleskine Introduces Photo Notebook

photomoleskine

Moleskine has introduced a new kind of notebook, letting you completely personalize your writing notebook by including your own photos, art and drawings.

You can design every single page of the $50 notebook, even adding inspirational notes or quotes alongside the pictures. The notebook will have 96-pages, sized at Moleskine’s familiar dimensions of 5.12 x 8.19” for a book.

If you don’t want to customize the entire notebook, you can use the FiftyThree’s Paper app, you can create 15-pages of digital art and publish them inside a customized Moleskine notebook.

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8. Freelance Writers & the Affordable Care Act

weights304

We collected some Affordable Care Act resources for freelance writers recently, but author Roberta Winter urged freelance writers to think carefully about these complex choices.

Winter wrote Unraveling U.S. Health Care: A Personal Guide, leading people through these tough decisions. She offered some advice for freelance writers:

Since freelance writers do not typically make much money, the insurance exchanges will afford them the opportunity to choose from 4 health plans, platinum, gold, silver, and bronze and receive government subsidies, based on their adjusted gross income. The subsidies vary between 93 percent and 100 percent of the premium, based on the silver plan premiums.

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9. How To Approach Other Writers About Blurbs

Author and Rock Plaza Central musician Chris Eaton wrote about scores of people online and offline who share his name in Chris Eaton, a Biography. Over at The Believerhe interviewed another writer with the same name and a small Internet footprint.

How many people share your name online? In this encore edition of the Morning Media Menu, Eaton shared advice for making a genuine appeal to a writer, artist or musician when searching for blurbs.

Press play below to listen on SoundCloud. We’ve collected a few excerpts from the interview…

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10. How Writers Can Pitch Online Outlets

Author and technology consultant Scott Steinberg shared some important advice for writers in this encore edition of the  Morning Media Menu podcast (embedded below).

Steinberg shared tips for pitching online outlets about your book. We caught up with Steinberg while he promoted The Modern Parent’s Guide to Video Games.

To promote his work, he shared columns and essays on a number of sites–reaching out to new readers at major outlets like CNN.comAll Things D and ESPN.com.

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11. Are You For or Against the Oxford Comma?

Do you regularly use the oxford comma in your writing? The animated video embedded above features a three-minute TED-Ed lesson called “Grammar’s Great Divide: The Oxford Comma.”

This linguistics lesson provides information on the debate between those for and against what is “perhaps the most hotly contested punctuation mark of all time.” Back in 2011, the University of Oxford Writing and Style Guide noted that use of the serial/oxford comma should be generally avoided.

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12. Does the English Language Drive You Crazy?

Does the English language drive you crazy?

Gregory Brown and Mitchell Moffit, the co-creators of the AsapSCIENCE YouTube channel, have written a poem called “English Is Crazy!” The two collaborators posted a poetry video on their second channel, AsapTHOUGHT, featuring Moffit as the narrator.

The Huffington Post lists some of the reasons why English can cause frustration; “grammar rules can be inconsistent, spelling nonsensical and don’t get us started on plurals, pronouns and pronunciation. Tough, cough, bough and dough. Enough said.” What do you think?

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13. What’s Your Favorite Font?

What’s your favorite font? It’s possible that it was created by designer Matthew Carter.

Carter invented several famous typefaces including Bell Centennial, Verdana, and Georgia. During the TED 2014 conference, he gave a talk and shared several stories from a career that spans more than three decades.

We’ve embedded the full presentation in the video above. According to the TED blog, “Carter think of himself as an industrial designer whose medium is type. When one designs a font, one deals closely with the technology that renders it, Carter explains, whether that’s a mechanical printing press or a central processing unit.” What do you think?

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14. Emerging Voices is Looking For ‘Emerging Voices Fellows’

PEN Center USA has opened the admissions process for its fellowship program. The Emerging Voices Fellowship is a literary fellowship that is designed to help launch literary careers for writers that lack the tools and access to do so on their own. Writers can find applications at this link. The deadline for submissions is August 11, 2014. Fellows that are selected will earn a $1,000 grant and will participate in an eight month professional mentorship program. This includes courses donated by UCLA Writers’ Extension Program, being a part of hosted Author Evenings with authors and several public readings in Los Angeles. Fellows will be paired with mentors. In the past, Sherman Alexie, Aimee Bender, Chris Abani, Héctor Tobar, Ron Carlson, Jerry Stahl, Susan Straight and Harryette Mullen have all served as mentors.

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15. Breaking Bad Mapped as Dan Harmon Story Circle

As Breaking Bad concluded its epic television run, one fan mapped out the epic TV series as a Dan Harmon story circle.

Community creator Harmon writes using a story circle, making sure that every script meets his eight steps of a satisfying story. As you can see by the chart embedded above (filled with spoilers), Breaking Bad contained all eight elements and can help aspiring storytellers master the elegant structure. Here’s more from Wired about Harmon’s method:

So he watched a lot of Die Hard, boiled down a lot of Joseph Campbell, and came up with the circle, an algorithm that distills a narrative into eight steps … Harmon calls his circles embryos—they contain all the elements needed for a satisfying story—and he uses them to map out nearly every turn on Community, from throwaway gags to entire seasons. If a plot doesn’t follow these steps, the embryo is invalid, and he starts over. To this day, Harmon still studies each film and TV show he watches, searching for his algorithm underneath, checking to see if the theory is airtight.

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16. How To Submit To Macmillan’s Swoon Reads

swoon

Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group has opened Swoon Reads, a crowdsourced romance imprint where readers help pick what gets published.

Follow this link to submit your work.  They accept both teen romance and new adult novels, but the work must be “original, completed novels that are not, and have never been under contract with another publisher.” The publisher shared a few author submission tips:

Teen novels ideally feature protagonists between the ages of 14 and 19. We also accept New Adult novels which feature protagonists ages 19-23. Novels can be set anytime, anywhere – and can be realistic, supernatural, dystopic, historical, comedy, inspirational, suspense or a mash-up of any sort. Stories can be happily ever after…or just happily for now. Girl/boy, girl/girl, boy/boy – just wow us with the intense romance of your story.

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17. Free Writing Pacemaker Creates Custom Writing Schedule

pacemaker

Do you struggle to meet your writing goals? Try the free Pacemaker tool online, a way to experiment with different writing schedules and keep track of your work.

Software developer Sarah Williams created the writing tool. Simply visit Pacemaker online, choose your word count, intensity level and weekend writing plans–the program will generate a customized writing schedule you can follow.

You can approach your writing target in various ways to suit your style : Steady – write the same amount of words every day. Try It. Rising to the Challenge – start off small and increase your word count quota every day. Try It. Biting the Bullet – bite off large chunks of your writing goal at the beginning of your schedule so that the pressure is off at the end of your schedule. Try It. Random – each day is a surprise, you may need to complete 5 words or 500! Whether heavy or light, you’ll reach your word count goal at the end of your specified schedule. Try It.

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18. What Writers Need To Know About the Affordable Care Act

affordable health care

Despite the federal government shutdown, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Marketplace is now open, a way for people to compare health insurance options under the new policy also known as “Obamacare.”

Self-employed writers will have more choices under this act. Explore options for self-employed writers at the official site:

You can use the Marketplace to find health coverage that fits your budget and meets your needs. You can compare important features of several plans side-by-side, all of them offering a full package of essential health benefits. You can see what your premiumdeductibles, andout-of-pocket costs will be before you decide to enroll. You can’t be denied coverage or charged more because you have a pre-existing health condition. If you currently have individual insurance–a plan you bought yourself, not the kind you get through an employer–you may be able to change to a Marketplace plan. Learn more about changing individual insurance plans.

Novelist and Writer Beware co-founder Victoria Strauss shared the news on Twitter.

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19. 3 Ways To Build a Healthy Writing Routine

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Earlier this week, we linked to some Affordable Care Act resources for freelance writers.

Health insurance is a major step for writers, but you also need to stay healthy. And the writing lifestyle: sitting, thinking and more sitting, can be dangerous for your health.

Below, we’ve collected three ways you can plan for a healthier writing routine next week.

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20. How To Submit To The Best American Nonrequired Reading Series

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The Best American Nonrequired Reading is out this week, collecting “the country’s best fiction, journalism, essays, comics, and humor” for readers of all ages. Below, we’ve collected all the information you need to submit your work to the anthology.

A group of high school students in Ann Arbor, Michigan and the Bay Area help choose the stories and edit alongside Dave Eggers. The editorial team also includes managing editor Daniel Gumbiner and assistant managing editors Henry W. Leung and Jia TolentinoCheck it out:

The Best American Nonrequired Reading committee —comprising students from dozens of different high schools —meets nearly every week of the year to read, debate, and compile this offbeat but vital anthology. Want to say something to us? Contact the BANR committee at nonrequired [@] gmail [dot] com. We’ll read everything you send us.

You can also mail print submissions (“whole periodicals or specific pieces”) to this address:

Best American Nonrequired Reading
826 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94117

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21. Oxford Reference Library Free During Government Shutdown

To help scholars during the federal government shutdown, Oxford University Press has offered readers free access to hundreds of titles in the Oxford Reference Library.

Above, we’ve embedded a video tutorial about the reference tool. Check it out:

For a two week period, the entire Oxford Reference site will be freely accessible as millions of scholars, students, and researchers are cut off from crucial tools during the U.S. Government shutdown. NEW USERS: Start exploring over 125 titles in Oxford Quick Reference as well as nearly 200 titles in Oxford Reference Library by entering the following information into the lefthand “Subscriber Login” box on the homepage: Username: tryoxfordreference Password: govshutdown

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22. Charles Stross: ‘I Want Microsoft Word To Die’

strossDo you wish the publishing industry used some other standard besides Microsoft Word?

Novelist Charles Stross published an anti-Microsoft Word manifesto recently, inspiring debate among writers with a revolutionary thesis: “I want Microsoft Word to die.” Check it out:

It imposes its own concept of how a document should be structured upon the writer, a structure best suited to business letters and reports (the tasks for which it is used by the majority of its users). Its proofing tools and change tracking mechanisms are baroque, buggy, and inadequate for true collaborative document preparation; its outlining and tagging facilities are piteously primitive compared to those required by a novelist or thesis author: and the procrustean dictates of its grammar checker would merely be funny if the ploddingly sophomoric business writing style it mandates were not so widespread.

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23. Narratively Seeks Storytellers Of All Media

Narratively

Narratively, the year-old New York-centric website, consists of writers, photographers and reporters who want to share in-depth human interest stories with the world.

The site values long form writing, and instead of sections or columns, they have weekly themes. As editorial director Brendan Spiegel says, “Our motto is: Any way you want to tell your story, we can do that.” All of the site’s content is generated by freelancers:

[The pub] has earned its reputation on the long-form text, [but] storytellers of all media are encouraged to pitch Narratively. Photo essays, short films, audio stories and comic boards are all game… In Narratively’s first comic text story, “The Real Mermaid,” an illustrator told a narrative non-fiction story about Coney Island’s Mermaid Parade.

For more details on pitching, read: How To Pitch: Narratively.

– Aneya Fernando

The full version of this article is exclusively available to Mediabistro AvantGuild subscribers. If you’re not a member yet, register now for as little as $55 a year for access to hundreds of articles like this one, discounts on Mediabistro seminars and workshops, and all sorts of other bonuses.

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24. Finish Your Book with Mediabistro’s Self-Publishing Intensive

selfpubintensive

Struggling to finish your book?

No matter where you live, Mediabistro has a new online course designed to guide independent authors through the final and most important steps of the publishing process.

Smashwords co-founder Mark Coker, bestselling self-published author Melody Anne and WeGrowMedia.com founder  Dan Blank  will help you complete your book in Mediabistro’s Self-Publishing Intensive.

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25. Free Writing Cheat Sheet

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Writers have been debating the Mike Shea‘s handy cheat sheet for writers this week.

The “Writing Tips” PDF collects George Orwell‘s writing rules, Edward Tufte‘s presentation rules, Strunk and White’s principles of composition and Robert Heinlein‘s writing rules in a single page you can keep on your writing desk.

What do you think? Do these writing rules help or hinder writers? Shea has published some helpful tutorials on eBook publishing as well.

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