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  • Cristina Merrill 4:00 pm on 2019/11/12 Permalink
    Tags: all fired up, andie j. christopher, , , , leave me breathless, , , patricia davids, restless rancher, , , the hope, the princess plan   

    Romance Roundup: Event Planners, Gossip Writers, and Amish Widows 

    This week’s Romance Roundup includes an arts and crafts store owner with some dark secrets, a popular writer who wants to take a more serious career route, and an Amish widow who is about to get a delicious blast from her past. 

    Leave Me Breathless, by Jodi Ellen Malpas
    Ryan Willis works in the protection business, which takes up a lot of brainpower and muscle. (Fortunately, he has both in spades!) He just finished a huge assignment, so he’s ready to wind down in his getaway home and listen to some soothing music and get some much-needed R&R. (You do that, Ryan, and we’ll all massage you while you’re at it!) He gets a bit of a surprise, though, when he meets Hannah Bright. She’s new in town and runs the local arts and craft store. (Hannah, you are a lifesaver! Some of us were quite low on knitting yarn!) Hannah and Ryan get to know each other, and it’s all quite wonderful for both parties. That said, Hannah has some big secrets, so she can’t let Ryan get too close. (Are you sure about that, sister?!) Here’s hoping that Hannah and Ryan reveal themselves to each other (hehe), that they create a foundation based on trust, and that the two of them enjoy many a frolic throughout their English village! (Available in paperback, audiobook, and NOOK.) 

    Not the Girl You Marry, by Andie J. Christopher
    How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days gets a twist in Christopher’s latest! Journalist Jack Nolan has found his niche—as a writer who is really good at writing viral fluff pieces that make for great clickbait but aren’t exactly stretching anyone’s thinking skills. (Jack, buddy, we all promise to, er, NOT click on your articles!) He cuts a deal with his editor: He will write a hard-hitting story on…how to lose a girl. Then he’ll move on to covering politics. Too bad he meets event planner Hannah Mayfield, who is actually a really nice person and smart and beautiful to boot. She’s on a quest of her own, which is to show her boss that YES, she absolutely believes in the lovey-dovey stuff and that YES, she wants to plan super duper romantic weddings. (She does NOT actually believe in these things, but she DOES want a promotion. Get THAT PROMOTION Hannah! We all hope it comes with a BIG RAISE!) She needs to hang onto to Jack just as much as he needs to tick her off. Oh, Jack, please find a way to not screw up your budding relationship with Hannah! And Hannah, please don’t get TOO upset when you find out the truth behind Jack’s less-than-desirable behavior. (Available in paperback and NOOK on November 12.) 

    Restless Rancher, by Jennifer Ryan
    Accountant Sonya Tucker has quite the task before her. She needs to help rancher Austin Hubbard turn his struggling ranch around, being as how Austin himself is struggling to just even get out of bed each morning. (Sonya, we’re not entirely sure why you would want Austin out of bed, but we are all still willing to follow along and support you in whatever you need to do!) Fortunately, Sonya is no wilting violet. She was, after all, raised by her mother in the Wild Rose Ranch, a Nevada brothel. (Sonya, sounds to us like you were always surrounded by hardworking women who taught you to be tough, and for that, we salute you and everyone involved in your upbringing!) It soon becomes clear that Austin is not as lackadaisical as he seems. He’s actually a good guy who wants to succeed. Will he manage to get off of his delectable heinie and prove to Sonya that he’s a very, very good man? This is the second book in Ryan’s Wild Rose series. (Available in hardcover, paperback, audiobook, and NOOK on November 12.) 

    All Fired Up, by Lori Foster
    Ex-con Mitch Crews is on a mission to find some long-lost family, and let’s just say he’s pretty much starting from zero. (It’s okay, Mitch! We’ll all help you find your family! We know how to use The Google!)  His travels put him in the direct path of Charlotte Parrish. Her car has just broken down in his neck of the woods, and while Mitch may be a tad hardened due to stressful life experiences, he would never – but NEVER – leave a lady stranded. (Mitch, there are people who have had it WAY easier than you and would still not do the nice things you do!) Charlotte doesn’t think she has room in her life for bad boys and so she decides to do her best and forget about Mitch and resist his charms and BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA! As if ANY woman could resist the ridiculously appealing Mitch. Mitch, please find a way to exhibit your best behavior while also showing Charlotte a good time in the, ahem, boudoir. This is the third book in Foster’s Road to Love series. (Available in hardcover, paperback, audiobook, and NOOK on November 19.) 

    The Princess Plan, by Julia London
    Eliza Tricklebank owns a delicious gossip gazette, and she’s just gotten the story tip of a lifetime. The personal secretary of none other than Prince Sebastian of Alucia has been murdered. Sebastian is eager to find out who killed his employee, and he starts off his investigation by investigating Eliza. (Oh, Eliza, you lucky, lucky lady!) This is all happening at a very inopportune time for Sebastian. There’s a trade deal going down, plus he’s under some big-time pressure to find a royal bride and produce a royal heir and do all of the royal things. (Sebastian, if you ever need a break from all of that royal stuff, we’ll all happily take you out for a night on the town while you wear the crafty yet tasteful disguise of your choice!) Eliza and Sebastian will need to work very closely together if they’re going to solve the murder mystery. This is the first book in London’s A Royal Wedding series. (Available in paperback, audiobook, and NOOK on November 19.)

    The Hope, by Patricia Davids
    Amish widow Ruth Mast figures that her life is going to be a tad quieter moving forward now that her husband is gone. Then a Very Special Man by the name of Owen Mast returns to Cedar Grove, and this kind of makes Ruth want to hide behind a sheet that’s been hung out to dry. Owen doesn’t have the best reputation in town. Oh, he also broke Ruth’s heart once upon a time. If all of this wasn’t bad enough, he is STILL ridiculously handsome and he STILL gives Ruth the butterflies! Ruth is ready to just go about her business and ignore Owen. Then a lost little girl shows up on Owen’s porch, and both he and Ruth are moved to help her and keep her safe. (See, Ruth?! Owen has clearly changed for the better so please, please, please listen to what he has to say!) Here’s hoping that Ruth and Owen cooperate to help this poor kid—and that they each get over their issues and get to know the people they’ve each become! This is the second book in Davids’ Amish of Cedar Grove series. (Available in paperback, audiobook, and NOOK on November 19.) 

    The post Romance Roundup: Event Planners, Gossip Writers, and Amish Widows appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • BN Editors 2:30 pm on 2019/11/12 Permalink
    Tags: , Book of the Year, charlie mackesy, , , food of sichuan, fuchsia dunlop, greta thurnberg, , mythos, no one is too small to make a difference, , , superlatives, the boy the mole the fox and the horse, , ,   

    Announcing the Finalists for Barnes & Noble’s Book of the Year 

    What is the book that defined 2019? This year, for the first time, Barnes & Noble has turned to its thousands of booksellers to answer that question.

    We asked our booksellers to tell us what books moved them, inspired them, challenged them, and charmed them—to name the book that was, to them, the book of the year. We were delighted—in fact, blown away—by the wide range of nominations we received, and the passion with which they were delivered. Out of thousands of nominations, a selection committee assembled the following shortlist of eight finalists. From this list, our booksellers will vote to select our first-ever Barnes & Noble Book of the Year.

    Olive, Again, by Elizabeth Strout
    These thirteen interconnected tales continue the story of prickly yet empathetic heroine Olive Kitteridge, whom we first met in Elizabeth Strout’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Olive Kitteridge. Now a septuagenarian being romanced by widowed Jack Kennison in Crosby, Maine, Olive will spend the next decade struggling with love, loss, unexpected friendships, and the pain of aging. Strout is a master at finding the universal within the very specific. You don’t need to read her earlier books to appreciate Olive’s universal story, but there are unexpected rewards here for her longtime fans as well. Listen to Elizabeth Strout discuss the novel on the B&N Podcast.

    What our booksellers are saying: “Elizabeth Strout, master storyteller, does not disappoint in this second installment in the continuing story of Olive Kitteridge. Olive returns alongside a cast of characters that are both diverse and fascinating to read about.” – Ellie Zur, Store #2358 (Mishawaka, IN)

    The Boy, the Mole, the Fox, and the Horse, by Charlie Mackesy
    When the illustrator Charles Mackesy first put together his  scenes of a boy talking with three animal friends, he didn’t predict the deep resonance they would have with people all over the world. The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse is an instant classic, a timeless fable matching Mackesy’s beautiful drawings with a voice that delivers wisdom and inspiration on every page.

    What our booksellers are saying:The Boy, the Mole, the Fox, and the Horse is a beautiful story about friendship, never giving up, and being true and kind to yourself and others around you. You’ll fall in love with Charlie Mackesy’s gorgeous illustrations and incredible words. Words we all need to hear.” – Erin Lynn, Store #2968 (Souix Falls, SD)

    The Nickel Boys, by Colson Whitehead
    The Nickel Boys is Colson Whitehead’s followup to the Pulitzer Prize-winning Underground Railroad, and it is every bit as provoking and praise-worthy. Set in the Jim Crow South of the 1960s,  it follows two philosophically opposed black students at a notorious reform school known as the Nickel Academy. Though the school claims to turn delinquents into “honorable and honest men” via “physical, intellectual and moral training,” in truth it’s a hotbed of corruption and abuse. Elwood Curtis tries to emulate his hero, Dr. Martin Luther King, during his hellish interment there, but his friend Turner is more cynical about the world. The boys’ disparate survival techniques culminate in a plan that will impact the rest of their lives. Listen to Colson Whitehead discuss the novel on the B&N Podcast.

    What our booksellers are saying:The Nickel Boys is a gut punch of a book. Whitehead is a master of words, and this novel hits hard on tough themes. An important read in today’s America.” – Ryan Quinn, Store #2606 (Fargo, ND)

    The Silent Patient, by Alex Michaelides
    Alex Michaelides’ potent psychological thriller begins with a jolt: Alicia Berenson, a successful artist living in well-to-do London, welcomes her fashion photographer husband home from a late night on the job with five bullets to the face, and never speaks another word. She spends the next six years as a silent patient at the Grove, a secure forensic facility in North London. Theo Faber is a gifted psychotherapist obsessed with the case, and he convinces Alicia’s doctors to allow him to coax her to speak. Theo’s sessions are interspersed with excerpts of Alicia’s diary leading up to the day of Gabriel’s murder. As the clues about what truly happened begin to fall into place, Theo’s personal and professional worlds begin to blur, leading to a shocking ending.

    What our booksellers are saying: “This can’t-put-it-down thriller stuns you as it throws a dark twist in just when you’re sure you have everything figured out.” – Cathy Schultz, Store #2778 (Peoria, IL)

    The Food of Sichuan, by Fuchsia Dunlop
    Some cookbooks are landmarks not merely because of their recipes, but because of the window they open onto a culture via its cuisine. Award-winning author Fuchsia Dunlop first published Land of Plenty—a definitive, gorgeously illustrated guide to Sichuan cooking for the English-speaking world—almost two decades ago, and in this glorious new edition, she adds dozens of fresh recipes and more, making The Food of Sichuan a must-read in its own right.

    What our booksellers are saying: “This book is a culinary tour guide to one of the most flavorful parts of the world, including recipes for those who are new to the kitchen and others that require some more expert techniques. Beautifully photographed, with great writing that really gets to the heart of what makes this cuisine unique and special.” – Sarah Kane, Store #2236 (Evanston, IL)

    Mythos, by Stephen Fry
    Mythos is a collection of Greek myths retold by writer, comedian, and celebrated wit Stephen Fry. His lively, refreshing take on classic stories—from Prometheus to Pandora—will enchant mythology enthusiasts, as well as readers who are less familiar with these tales. Brimming with humor, as well as a deep affection and respect for the original stories, these adventures perfectly capture the colorful feats and foibles of the gods and mortals of ancient Greece. 

    What our booksellers are saying: “Stephen Fry’s Mythos is a fascinating and intelligent and an exciting read! Fans of Mr. Fry’s wit, wisdom, and humor will find in his newest book Greek and Roman myths reimagined and reexamined for our modern age.” – Lorien Campbell, Store #2974 (Athens, GA)

    The Testaments, by Margaret Atwood
    A lot has changed in the 35 years since Margaret Atwood’s dystopian classic The Handmaid’s Tale was published, but little that makes her dark vision of the future—one in which an environmental disaster and an idealogical uprising have seen America toppled and replaced by the theocratic state of Gilead, where increasingly rare fertile women are forced to bear children for the wealthy and powerful—seem any less prescient. In The Testaments, an unexpected but vital sequel, Atwood dives deeper into the politics of Gilead—its Aunts, its Marthas—and, in the lives of its younger characters, delivers hope that a better, if hard-won, future might be possible. Listen to Margaret Atwood discuss the novel on the B&N Podcast.

    What our booksellers are saying:The Handmaid’s Tale pulled us in, but The Testaments is the novel that doesn’t let us go. Told from the point of view of three women in a dystopian North America, Atwood’s ultimately hopeful novel is a feminist triumph.” – Ryan Quinn, Store #2606 (Fargo, ND)

    No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference, by Greta Thunberg
    In August 2018, the simple decision by a 15-year-old girl to walk out of school to protest the climate crisis sparked a worldwide movement. A year later, Greta Thunberg has given voice to an entire generation of young people facing life in an uncertain future on a planet that seems precariously close to a breaking point. Though Thunberg has rejected the notion that she be viewed as an icon, her message—delivered in speeches to the United Nations, on Capitol Hill, and amid massive street protests—carries undeniable weight. Collected in this volume, her words act as a call to arms—a potent argument that the time for action is yesterday, and that we all have a role to play in saving our tomorrows.

    What our booksellers are saying: “Although her speeches may feel repetitive, her message merits repeating: Greta, a young woman of 16 with Asperger’s syndrome, brings her black-and-white viewpoint to the problem of climate justice. The clarity with which she views the issues is formidable. She speaks from the gut and pulls no punches. From her specialized point of view, she argues that action for climate justice needs to be quick and all-encompassing. There are problems to solve. We know the solutions. The time for action is now.” – Gabriel Jacobson, Store #2701 (Brentwood, TN)

    Barnes & Noble’s Book of the Year will be announced in December.

    The post Announcing the Finalists for Barnes & Noble’s Book of the Year appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Sarah Skilton 5:00 pm on 2019/11/08 Permalink
    Tags: christmas shopaholic, , , , josie silver, julia whelan, last christmas, london belongs to us, my oxford year, one day in december, , , sarra manning, ,   

    5 London-Set Books to Read After You See Last Christmas 

    Anglophiles, assemble! Last Christmas hits theaters today, about a young woman (GoT’s Emilia Clarke) who works at a year-round ornament store and whose holiday blues start to lift when a handsome stranger (Crazy Rich Asians’ Henry Golding) enters her life. Besides the romance, what I’m most looking forward to are the scenes showcasing the beauty and quirks of London during the holidays. Here are five more new and recent romances set in Merry Old to keep you cozy this weekend.

    Royal Holiday, by Jasmine Guillory
    An impromptu mother-daughter trip to England to style a duchess for the holidays? So much yes. Guillory’s fourth book centers on an older protagonist, 50-something Vivian Forest, whose daughter Maddie (last seen in The Wedding Party) provides the impetus for the trip of a lifetime. When Vivian meets Malcolm Hudson, a veddy proper private secretary to the Queen, sparks fly. The problem is, Vivian’s due back in the States after New Year’s. Is a magical fling worth the possible heartache to follow?

    Christmas Shopaholic, by Sophie Kinsella
    Becky Bloomwood Brandon is eager to share a traditional English Christmas with husband Luke and daughter Minnie at her parents’ place, complete with ugly sweaters and caroling. Then her mum and dad drop a bombshell: they’re moving out of the village of Letherby and into a trendy London ‘burb. As such, they need Becky to host the festivities this time around. Bargain shopping, well-meaning yet screwball attempts to help loved ones, and surprises in the form of an ex-boyfriend, ensue. Like a mug of cocoa with marshmallows on top, this looks to be a sweet and heartwarming delight. This is Becky’s eighth outing, but newcomers to the Shopaholic series needn’t have read the previous volumes.

    One Day in December, by Josie Silver
    What happens when your best friend lands the guy you’ve been fantasizing about for a year? That’s Laurie’s predicament in this romance that spans a decade and begins with a missed connection out a bus window in London. When Laurie and Jack first glimpse each other from afar, their mutual and intense attraction is put on simmer—they have no idea how to find each other again—until months later when Jack shows up on the arm of Laurie’s mate Sarah at a holiday party. Does fate intend for them to pursue each other, or is it better for everyone if they walk away? Perfect for fans of Love Actually.

    My Oxford Year, by Julia Whelan
    When Rhodes Scholar Ella Durran arrives at Oxford to study English lit, it’s the culmination of a lifelong dream. Soon, however, she’s torn between her education and a job opportunity working for a rising politician. Then there’s the banter-filled and swoony romance she’s begun with Jamie Davenport, a young, mischievous professor who pushes all her buttons in the best ways. But Jamie’s hiding something from Ella that will change everything—and force Ella to make choices that all seem headed toward heartbreak. Have Kleenex on hand for this gorgeous and emotional debut.

    London Belongs to Us, by Sarra Manning
    Fans of fast-paced stories set in a single night will tear through this love letter to London. When teenage Sunny discovers the truth about her boyfriend—he’s two-timing her with a girl from another school, and has been for a while—she sets off on a cross-city trek for answers. Zipping through villages both lesser-known and iconic (Notting Hill, Soho, Camden…), she meets a colorful cast of characters and learns what she’s willing and unwilling to do for love—and herself.

     What London-set romance novels would you recommend to Last Christmas fans?

    The post 5 London-Set Books to Read After You See <i>Last Christmas</i> appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Jeff Somers 4:00 pm on 2019/11/08 Permalink
    Tags: , , , ,   

    Finding Your Pace: National Novel Writing Month Executive Director Grant Faulkner on How to Make Writing a Priority 

    It’s that time of year again—no, not Thanksgiving planning prep, it’s National Novel Writing Month (also known as NaNoWriMo). Every November, thousands of writers at all levels of experience and publishing success challenge themselves to write an entire novel—50,000 words—from start to finish, in just 30 days.

    Far from a stunt, NaNoWriMo has encouraged many writers to complete novels that were eventually professionally published—not to mention countless others who have self-published their work. But even if the end result is only a sense of accomplishment, it’s still a viable way of instilling the habit of writing—and as most any successful writer will tell you, the one way to learn how to be a better writer is to write. Plus, NaNoWriMo provides added incentive in the form of message boards that offer a supportive and encouraging community to burgeoning authors who might otherwise lack one.

    Grant Faulkner has been executive director of NaNoWriMo since taking over from founder Chris Baty in 2012. Faulkner is also the founder of the online literary magazine 100 Word Story and the author of Fissures, a collection of his 100-word short stories; Nothing Short of 100, an anthology of the best stories from 100 Word Story; Pep Talks for Writers and co-author of Brave the Page. He recently took some time from his busy November writing schedule day to chat with us about the power of NaNoWriMo, the advantages of short fiction, and why everyone should probably try to write a novel this year.

    You’re best-known for your books on writing and your flash and micro-fiction, but you just finished a novel (The Letters). Have you ever done NaNoWriMo yourself?
    Yes! I’ve actually been participating in NaNoWriMo since 2009, before I took on my current position. I did NaNoWriMo because I asked myself if I’d decided on my creative process or if it had decided on me. I was in a creative rut, in short, and NaNoWriMo is a great way to get yourself out of a creative rut, to shake things up and push yourself into new creative directions, because it’s a creative experiment by definition. I participate every year, without fail.

    How should writers ideally approach NaNoWriMo in terms of mindset, prep, and expectations?
    One thing I would strongly suggest is that you think about the time factor—how are you going to come up with the time you’ll need to write? Think about whether you need to block off big chunks of time on the weekend or if you have nooks and crannies of time throughout your day to dedicate to your novel. I know I need about two hours a day to write 1,667 words. Again, there’s no right way to do it, but it’s important to have a plan, to think about how you’re going to open up time in your life to write and make creativity a priority for a month. The most frequent reason I hear that people say for why they can’t do NaNoWriMo is that they don’t have enough time, but I think most of us can find the time if we analyze what our priorities are and then make a plan to execute them.

    Beyond a time management strategy, there are various approaches to preparing to write your story. We have Pantsers, who just charge into the story and write by the seat of their pants, and we have Plotters, who like to map out their story first—and then we have what we call Plantsers, who combine a little bit of plotting and pantsing, or switch back and forth. What’s great about NaNoWriMo is that it’s the perfect time to experiment, to try something new—if you’re a Pantser, for example, why not try Plotting? Me, I used to be a dedicated Pantser, but as I’ve progressed in my writing career I’ve become more of a Plotter. Writers are like a basketball player in that sense—they need to learn how to dribble with both hands, shoot different kinds of shots.

    One final bit of advice is to not get lost in your prepping for NaNoWriMo. Don’t focus so much on getting ready that you forget about the story you want to write, or forget to have fun. Also, we have people who sign up for NaNoWriMo just before midnight on October 31st and pants their novel. We also have people who sign up later in November and write furiously to catch up. Honestly, there’s no ‛right’ way to do it. Any way that works for you and your schedule, your writing process, is fine.

    Is it true, the saying that everyone has one novel in them, and a very few have two or more? Should everyone write a novel?
    There’s a theory that many writers only have one great novel in them, and then they write variations of that novel for the rest of their career. Most writers have a lot of ideas for books, though—more than they can ever get to in their lifetime. I do think that everyone should write a book, though. I recently read that 81% of Americans said they wanted to write a book someday. Someday when everything is perfect. Someday tends not to happen, though, which is why NaNoWriMo exists—to make someday today with the help of a goal and a deadline. One of the great things about NaNoWriMo is that it helps you make your creative dreams a priority.

    One of the great things about NaNoWriMo is that it helps you make writing a priority. And there are so many benefits to writing a novel. We are meaning making creatures and our stories are the way we make meaning in the world. Writing is our most effective critical thinking tool. It’s a way to explore ourselves, see the world through others’ eyes, and imagine other universes. Writing stories helps us build empathy and tolerance and connect with others. There’s a saying that the world isn’t made of atoms, it’s made of stories, and there’s some truth to that. So don’t wait to write your story—write it today!

    Tell us about 100 Word Story and the Flash Fiction Collective; what does it take to found a lit journal in the modern day?
    I’ve had a passion for 100-word stories for a long time. I think I’m addicted to them, honestly. When I started writing them back in 2010, not many publishers were publishing such short fiction, but I thought there was a market for it, so my friend Lynn Mundell and I launched the journal by recruiting our writer friends to contribute stories. Stories began to flood in, though. I can’t believe how much our submissions and readership grows each year. What’s wonderful about starting a literary journal these days is how the Internet helps on all fronts. For example, back in the old days, an established literary magazine might only have a few thousand readers. Today, with social media, we have a huge readership compared to that. Technology has given a journal like ours reach that was impossible before.

    What’s really been satisfying is hearing from teachers who are using 100 Word Story in the classroom. The form is accessible to all, and it allows teachers to do focused lessons around 100-word stories in ways that other forms don’t allow because they’re longer. I’ve heard from college professors using it to teach MFA writing classes, teachers using 100-word stories to help prisoners earn their GEDs, and teachers teaching 100-word stories in grades K-12 as well. In fact, a teacher and YA author, Kim Cuthbertson is now writing a book about how to teach 100-word stories in high school. It’s incredible.

    Your book Fissures is a collection of 100-word stories. What are the challenges and advantages of extremely short fiction?
    There are so many advantages. I always compare a 100-word story to a Rubik’s Cube; you’re constantly turning things around and adjusting the little cubes (or words in the case of a 100-word story) in order to get them all to line up. A 100-word story is always a puzzle. You’re always shaving away words and then adding words and then massaging those words to get the story to exactly 100 words.

    Writing within constraints, with brevity, is challenging because most people are taught to write more in their writing instruction, not less. Aslo, I think writers like to flex their writerly muscles by writing more, by putting in those like nice lyrical flourishes into their stories. When I was getting my MFA, for instance, people in workshops would often write in the margins, ‛I want to hear more about this.’ What we forget is that that so much of a story is told through what’s left out.

    When writing 100-word stories, I often think of the Hemingway principle of storytelling where he compares a well-crafted story to an iceberg: about 90% of it is under the water and only 10% of it is showing. That’s what you want to do with your short stories—only show the tip. So a story can be told through well-crafted hints that both create suspense and allow the reader to fill in the gaps. As writers, we have to trust the reader’s imagination. It’s their story as much as it is our story. So I think writing 100-word stories is a wonderful exercise to teach you how to write less. It’s as much of an editing exercise as it is a writing exercise, because while you’re writing, you’re always editing at the same time in order to to get the precision that’s required from the form. So just as every writer should do NaNoWriMo to learn how to write with abandon, to write with an improve mindset, every writer should write 100-word stories to learn the art of compression.

    A lot of writers, especially young writers, tend to think in terms of long-form, in novels. But the more constrained you are, the more challenging it can be.
    Yeah, there’s a famous quote attributed to Mark Twain, who said, ‛I would have written it shorter if I’d only had more time.’ Writing shorter definitely takes more time because fewer words have to do more work. The challenge for the writer is to capture the essence of their story. I love the story of Japanese writer Yasunari Kawabata’s novel Snow Country, which was cited when he won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1968. Years later, he re-wrote Snow Country as a short story titled Gleanings from Snow Country, which was only 13 pages. He didn’t summarize the novel, he just captured the essence. That’s the question every short story writer must ask: what is the essence of this story, and how can you tell it in as few words as possible?

    What tips would you offer to a writer attempting their first novel? Are there different tips for their first short story or piece of flash fiction?
    I think a lot of people hold themselves back from writing because they tell themselves they’re not “real” writers. That’s very unfortunate, because everybody who writes is a real writer in my book. The definition of being a writer is to write, and the way human beings make meaning in the world is through stories, and everyone has stories to tell. So the very fundamental thing is to believe in yourself, believe that you are a creator, believe you’re a writer, and write down your story.

    Another big thing to be a writer is commitment—to not wait for those moments of inspiration to strike in order to write, but to set yourself up with a plan and make writing a daily practice if possible. If you aspire to finish a novel or to publish it, it’s going to take a lot of commitment, and you’re going to go through a lot of moments that will feel dark, when you’ll doubt yourself or your story, so you just have to really believe in yourself, and develop a community that will help you believe in yourself, a network of other writers. We break down the mythology of the solitary author in NaNoWriMo by the various ways we provide community, both in person and online.

    In the end, the advice for writing a novel and writing a short story is very similar: believe in your story, follow your passions, and listen to what the story is telling you. Don’t think about what you should write but what you want to write. Just trust that in the practice of showing up every day, you will make the story better and better, and you’ll become a better and better writer.

    Aside from your own Pep Talks for Writers and Brave the Page (co-authored with Rebecca Stern), what books about writing do you routinely recommend?
    I am usually reading a book about writing, so I’ve read plenty of them. I find that just reading about writing on a regular basis helps feed the creative juices.

    =But there are three that I turn to the most. One is Annie Dillard’s The Writing Life, which is almost like a poem. Stephen King’s On Writing is wonderful because it’s one part memoir, one part writing tips and then he’s just a fabulous storyteller and wise about writing. And the small press Graywolf has this wonderful series called The Art of … and they’ve probably published 15 or 20 short books written by authors on different aspects of writing, such as ‛subtext’ or ‛suspense.’ They read like long essays or meditations. I find them wonderfully inspiring, so I oftentimes turn to those. And Chris Baty, the founder of NaNoWriMo, wrote a book called No Plot, No Problem that’s essentially the bible and the instructional guide to NaNoWriMo.

    There’s a long list of published novels that began life in NaNoWriMo (The Night Circus, Fangirl, Wool, Water for Elephants, Cinder, to name a few). Are there any lessons for aspiring novelists from these success stories?
    There are many lessons. Marissa Meyer has written many of her novels during NaNoWriMo. She told me that now that she has a publishing schedule, she can’t always do NaNoWriMo during November, but what I think is interesting is that she does her own private NaNoWriMo for every one of her novels. She sets aside 30 days and she writes as much as she can, and just gets the rough draft done and then goes on to revise it later. I think that’s a really good lesson—remember that you can make NaNoWriMo your own creative process beyond the events we host.

    Erin Morgenstern participated in NaNoWriMo way back in the early 2000s. And one NaNoWriMo, she took a fanciful detour in her novel, and that detour led her to The Night Circus, which she finished in a couple of the following NaNoWriMos. So be open to the detours.

    And then Gennifer Albin wrote Crewel during NaNoWriMo, after her husband joked that her obituary would read ‛the author of the most first chapters in the history of the world.’ She was an expert in writing first chapters, but she couldn’t go further, and that’s one of the premises of of NaNoWriMo, to write to the end. Don’t worry about making that first chapter perfect. You’ve got to write the whole novel first, and then you can go back and revise.

    On that note, Joyce Carol Oates has this great quote, ‛You can’t know the first sentence until you’ve written the last.’ So it’s not worth spending too much time laboring over the first sentence or the first chapter in the first draft because you’ll go back and change it anyway.

    Are you aware of National Novel Editing Month (NaNoEdMo)? Is it a good next stop for folks who succeed at NaNoWriMo?
    We actually have an initiative ourselves called I Wrote a Novel, Now What? It takes place in January and February, and we provide a lot of the same things that we do for NaNoWriMo, but focused on editing. We actually have tools on our websites so that you can set revision goals. So, say you wanted to spend 50 hours revising in the month of January, you can set that goal and track your progress to build in accountability and motivation. We also provide a number of editing and publishing resources through webcasts, podcasts, blog posts, conversations in our online forums, and more. We are big believers that rewriting and revising are very important,. The magic of NaNoWriMo is the goal and the deadlines—we say that a goal and a deadline is a creative midwife—and that applies for editing as well. Otherwise, editing and revising can go on forever, just as researching a novel can go on forever and prevent you from actually writing the novel. It helps for people to have really tangible, daily goals in order to stay focused on progress.

    What’s next for you in your own writing?
    I’ve got a few books in motion. I have a collection of short stories, All the Comfort that Sin Can Provide, that is with a small press right now. I’m nearly finished with my novel The Letters. And I am working on a nonfiction book on rejection, 13 Stories of Rejection, which will include profiles of different notable authors and their stories of rejection—how they faced the crisis of rejection, how they got over it, how they kept believing in themselves, and how they eventually published a book.

    13 Stories of Rejection sounds like a very useful book—it’s great sometimes to point out that everybody struggles; everybody faces rejection.
    To be an author is to be rejected. And, honestly, the interesting thing is that a lot of those best-selling authors continued to get rejected even after they became successful authors. So you just have to to develop the mindset that rejection is just an ongoing part of being a writer.

    If you’re participating in NaNoWriMo—or if you’re a past winner with a story you’re ready to share with the world—B&N Press is the easiest way for you to get your writing into the hands of readers. With a simple interface and customizable options to fit any project, you can take your writing from a text document to a finished ebook or print edition with ease, even if you have no prior experience with self-publishing tools. And within days, your book can be listed for sale right here on the Barnes & Noble website. To find out more about B&N Press, click here, and happy writing!

    The post Finding Your Pace: National Novel Writing Month Executive Director Grant Faulkner on How to Make Writing a Priority appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Jeff Somers 4:00 pm on 2019/11/08 Permalink
    Tags: , , , ,   

    Finding Your Pace: National Novel Writing Month Executive Director Grant Faulkner on How to Make Writing a Priority 

    It’s that time of year again—no, not Thanksgiving planning prep, it’s National Novel Writing Month (also known as NaNoWriMo). Every November, thousands of writers at all levels of experience and publishing success challenge themselves to write an entire novel—50,000 words—from start to finish, in just 30 days.

    Far from a stunt, NaNoWriMo has encouraged many writers to complete novels that were eventually professionally published—not to mention countless others who have self-published their work. But even if the end result is only a sense of accomplishment, it’s still a viable way of instilling the habit of writing—and as most any successful writer will tell you, the one way to learn how to be a better writer is to write. Plus, NaNoWriMo provides added incentive in the form of message boards that offer a supportive and encouraging community to burgeoning authors who might otherwise lack one.

    Grant Faulkner has been executive director of NaNoWriMo since taking over from founder Chris Baty in 2012. Faulkner is also the founder of the online literary magazine 100 Word Story and the author of Fissures, a collection of his 100-word short stories; Nothing Short of 100, an anthology of the best stories from 100 Word Story; Pep Talks for Writers and co-author of Brave the Page. He recently took some time from his busy November writing schedule day to chat with us about the power of NaNoWriMo, the advantages of short fiction, and why everyone should probably try to write a novel this year.

    You’re best-known for your books on writing and your flash and micro-fiction, but you just finished a novel (The Letters). Have you ever done NaNoWriMo yourself?
    Yes! I’ve actually been participating in NaNoWriMo since 2009, before I took on my current position. I did NaNoWriMo because I asked myself if I’d decided on my creative process or if it had decided on me. I was in a creative rut, in short, and NaNoWriMo is a great way to get yourself out of a creative rut, to shake things up and push yourself into new creative directions, because it’s a creative experiment by definition. I participate every year, without fail.

    How should writers ideally approach NaNoWriMo in terms of mindset, prep, and expectations?
    One thing I would strongly suggest is that you think about the time factor—how are you going to come up with the time you’ll need to write? Think about whether you need to block off big chunks of time on the weekend or if you have nooks and crannies of time throughout your day to dedicate to your novel. I know I need about two hours a day to write 1,667 words. Again, there’s no right way to do it, but it’s important to have a plan, to think about how you’re going to open up time in your life to write and make creativity a priority for a month. The most frequent reason I hear that people say for why they can’t do NaNoWriMo is that they don’t have enough time, but I think most of us can find the time if we analyze what our priorities are and then make a plan to execute them.

    Beyond a time management strategy, there are various approaches to preparing to write your story. We have Pantsers, who just charge into the story and write by the seat of their pants, and we have Plotters, who like to map out their story first—and then we have what we call Plantsers, who combine a little bit of plotting and pantsing, or switch back and forth. What’s great about NaNoWriMo is that it’s the perfect time to experiment, to try something new—if you’re a Pantser, for example, why not try Plotting? Me, I used to be a dedicated Pantser, but as I’ve progressed in my writing career I’ve become more of a Plotter. Writers are like a basketball player in that sense—they need to learn how to dribble with both hands, shoot different kinds of shots.

    One final bit of advice is to not get lost in your prepping for NaNoWriMo. Don’t focus so much on getting ready that you forget about the story you want to write, or forget to have fun. Also, we have people who sign up for NaNoWriMo just before midnight on October 31st and pants their novel. We also have people who sign up later in November and write furiously to catch up. Honestly, there’s no ‛right’ way to do it. Any way that works for you and your schedule, your writing process, is fine.

    Is it true, the saying that everyone has one novel in them, and a very few have two or more? Should everyone write a novel?
    There’s a theory that many writers only have one great novel in them, and then they write variations of that novel for the rest of their career. Most writers have a lot of ideas for books, though—more than they can ever get to in their lifetime. I do think that everyone should write a book, though. I recently read that 81% of Americans said they wanted to write a book someday. Someday when everything is perfect. Someday tends not to happen, though, which is why NaNoWriMo exists—to make someday today with the help of a goal and a deadline. One of the great things about NaNoWriMo is that it helps you make your creative dreams a priority.

    One of the great things about NaNoWriMo is that it helps you make writing a priority. And there are so many benefits to writing a novel. We are meaning making creatures and our stories are the way we make meaning in the world. Writing is our most effective critical thinking tool. It’s a way to explore ourselves, see the world through others’ eyes, and imagine other universes. Writing stories helps us build empathy and tolerance and connect with others. There’s a saying that the world isn’t made of atoms, it’s made of stories, and there’s some truth to that. So don’t wait to write your story—write it today!

    Tell us about 100 Word Story and the Flash Fiction Collective; what does it take to found a lit journal in the modern day?
    I’ve had a passion for 100-word stories for a long time. I think I’m addicted to them, honestly. When I started writing them back in 2010, not many publishers were publishing such short fiction, but I thought there was a market for it, so my friend Lynn Mundell and I launched the journal by recruiting our writer friends to contribute stories. Stories began to flood in, though. I can’t believe how much our submissions and readership grows each year. What’s wonderful about starting a literary journal these days is how the Internet helps on all fronts. For example, back in the old days, an established literary magazine might only have a few thousand readers. Today, with social media, we have a huge readership compared to that. Technology has given a journal like ours reach that was impossible before.

    What’s really been satisfying is hearing from teachers who are using 100 Word Story in the classroom. The form is accessible to all, and it allows teachers to do focused lessons around 100-word stories in ways that other forms don’t allow because they’re longer. I’ve heard from college professors using it to teach MFA writing classes, teachers using 100-word stories to help prisoners earn their GEDs, and teachers teaching 100-word stories in grades K-12 as well. In fact, a teacher and YA author, Kim Cuthbertson is now writing a book about how to teach 100-word stories in high school. It’s incredible.

    Your book Fissures is a collection of 100-word stories. What are the challenges and advantages of extremely short fiction?
    There are so many advantages. I always compare a 100-word story to a Rubik’s Cube; you’re constantly turning things around and adjusting the little cubes (or words in the case of a 100-word story) in order to get them all to line up. A 100-word story is always a puzzle. You’re always shaving away words and then adding words and then massaging those words to get the story to exactly 100 words.

    Writing within constraints, with brevity, is challenging because most people are taught to write more in their writing instruction, not less. Aslo, I think writers like to flex their writerly muscles by writing more, by putting in those like nice lyrical flourishes into their stories. When I was getting my MFA, for instance, people in workshops would often write in the margins, ‛I want to hear more about this.’ What we forget is that that so much of a story is told through what’s left out.

    When writing 100-word stories, I often think of the Hemingway principle of storytelling where he compares a well-crafted story to an iceberg: about 90% of it is under the water and only 10% of it is showing. That’s what you want to do with your short stories—only show the tip. So a story can be told through well-crafted hints that both create suspense and allow the reader to fill in the gaps. As writers, we have to trust the reader’s imagination. It’s their story as much as it is our story. So I think writing 100-word stories is a wonderful exercise to teach you how to write less. It’s as much of an editing exercise as it is a writing exercise, because while you’re writing, you’re always editing at the same time in order to to get the precision that’s required from the form. So just as every writer should do NaNoWriMo to learn how to write with abandon, to write with an improve mindset, every writer should write 100-word stories to learn the art of compression.

    A lot of writers, especially young writers, tend to think in terms of long-form, in novels. But the more constrained you are, the more challenging it can be.
    Yeah, there’s a famous quote attributed to Mark Twain, who said, ‛I would have written it shorter if I’d only had more time.’ Writing shorter definitely takes more time because fewer words have to do more work. The challenge for the writer is to capture the essence of their story. I love the story of Japanese writer Yasunari Kawabata’s novel Snow Country, which was cited when he won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1968. Years later, he re-wrote Snow Country as a short story titled Gleanings from Snow Country, which was only 13 pages. He didn’t summarize the novel, he just captured the essence. That’s the question every short story writer must ask: what is the essence of this story, and how can you tell it in as few words as possible?

    What tips would you offer to a writer attempting their first novel? Are there different tips for their first short story or piece of flash fiction?
    I think a lot of people hold themselves back from writing because they tell themselves they’re not “real” writers. That’s very unfortunate, because everybody who writes is a real writer in my book. The definition of being a writer is to write, and the way human beings make meaning in the world is through stories, and everyone has stories to tell. So the very fundamental thing is to believe in yourself, believe that you are a creator, believe you’re a writer, and write down your story.

    Another big thing to be a writer is commitment—to not wait for those moments of inspiration to strike in order to write, but to set yourself up with a plan and make writing a daily practice if possible. If you aspire to finish a novel or to publish it, it’s going to take a lot of commitment, and you’re going to go through a lot of moments that will feel dark, when you’ll doubt yourself or your story, so you just have to really believe in yourself, and develop a community that will help you believe in yourself, a network of other writers. We break down the mythology of the solitary author in NaNoWriMo by the various ways we provide community, both in person and online.

    In the end, the advice for writing a novel and writing a short story is very similar: believe in your story, follow your passions, and listen to what the story is telling you. Don’t think about what you should write but what you want to write. Just trust that in the practice of showing up every day, you will make the story better and better, and you’ll become a better and better writer.

    Aside from your own Pep Talks for Writers and Brave the Page (co-authored with Rebecca Stern), what books about writing do you routinely recommend?
    I am usually reading a book about writing, so I’ve read plenty of them. I find that just reading about writing on a regular basis helps feed the creative juices.

    =But there are three that I turn to the most. One is Annie Dillard’s The Writing Life, which is almost like a poem. Stephen King’s On Writing is wonderful because it’s one part memoir, one part writing tips and then he’s just a fabulous storyteller and wise about writing. And the small press Graywolf has this wonderful series called The Art of … and they’ve probably published 15 or 20 short books written by authors on different aspects of writing, such as ‛subtext’ or ‛suspense.’ They read like long essays or meditations. I find them wonderfully inspiring, so I oftentimes turn to those. And Chris Baty, the founder of NaNoWriMo, wrote a book called No Plot, No Problem that’s essentially the bible and the instructional guide to NaNoWriMo.

    There’s a long list of published novels that began life in NaNoWriMo (The Night Circus, Fangirl, Wool, Water for Elephants, Cinder, to name a few). Are there any lessons for aspiring novelists from these success stories?
    There are many lessons. Marissa Meyer has written many of her novels during NaNoWriMo. She told me that now that she has a publishing schedule, she can’t always do NaNoWriMo during November, but what I think is interesting is that she does her own private NaNoWriMo for every one of her novels. She sets aside 30 days and she writes as much as she can, and just gets the rough draft done and then goes on to revise it later. I think that’s a really good lesson—remember that you can make NaNoWriMo your own creative process beyond the events we host.

    Erin Morgenstern participated in NaNoWriMo way back in the early 2000s. And one NaNoWriMo, she took a fanciful detour in her novel, and that detour led her to The Night Circus, which she finished in a couple of the following NaNoWriMos. So be open to the detours.

    And then Gennifer Albin wrote Crewel during NaNoWriMo, after her husband joked that her obituary would read ‛the author of the most first chapters in the history of the world.’ She was an expert in writing first chapters, but she couldn’t go further, and that’s one of the premises of of NaNoWriMo, to write to the end. Don’t worry about making that first chapter perfect. You’ve got to write the whole novel first, and then you can go back and revise.

    On that note, Joyce Carol Oates has this great quote, ‛You can’t know the first sentence until you’ve written the last.’ So it’s not worth spending too much time laboring over the first sentence or the first chapter in the first draft because you’ll go back and change it anyway.

    Are you aware of National Novel Editing Month (NaNoEdMo)? Is it a good next stop for folks who succeed at NaNoWriMo?
    We actually have an initiative ourselves called I Wrote a Novel, Now What? It takes place in January and February, and we provide a lot of the same things that we do for NaNoWriMo, but focused on editing. We actually have tools on our websites so that you can set revision goals. So, say you wanted to spend 50 hours revising in the month of January, you can set that goal and track your progress to build in accountability and motivation. We also provide a number of editing and publishing resources through webcasts, podcasts, blog posts, conversations in our online forums, and more. We are big believers that rewriting and revising are very important,. The magic of NaNoWriMo is the goal and the deadlines—we say that a goal and a deadline is a creative midwife—and that applies for editing as well. Otherwise, editing and revising can go on forever, just as researching a novel can go on forever and prevent you from actually writing the novel. It helps for people to have really tangible, daily goals in order to stay focused on progress.

    What’s next for you in your own writing?
    I’ve got a few books in motion. I have a collection of short stories, All the Comfort that Sin Can Provide, that is with a small press right now. I’m nearly finished with my novel The Letters. And I am working on a nonfiction book on rejection, 13 Stories of Rejection, which will include profiles of different notable authors and their stories of rejection—how they faced the crisis of rejection, how they got over it, how they kept believing in themselves, and how they eventually published a book.

    13 Stories of Rejection sounds like a very useful book—it’s great sometimes to point out that everybody struggles; everybody faces rejection.
    To be an author is to be rejected. And, honestly, the interesting thing is that a lot of those best-selling authors continued to get rejected even after they became successful authors. So you just have to to develop the mindset that rejection is just an ongoing part of being a writer.

    If you’re participating in NaNoWriMo—or if you’re a past winner with a story you’re ready to share with the world—B&N Press is the easiest way for you to get your writing into the hands of readers. With a simple interface and customizable options to fit any project, you can take your writing from a text document to a finished ebook or print edition with ease, even if you have no prior experience with self-publishing tools. And within days, your book can be listed for sale right here on the Barnes & Noble website. To find out more about B&N Press, click here, and happy writing!

    The post Finding Your Pace: National Novel Writing Month Executive Director Grant Faulkner on How to Make Writing a Priority appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
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