Nancy: Links, Learning, and Laughs

Surfer's View

While Jilly’s been building her TBR list for her staycation later this summer, I’ve been out surfing. Sadly (or on second thought, happily), this hasn’t involved a longboard or bitchin’ waves. I’ve been surfing the web from the safety of my own home, and I’ve run across some great writing- and story-related inspiration. Here are links to a few of the sites I’ve enjoyed the most this past week. If you’ve run across a must-see website for hopeless procrastinators writers, please share in the comments!

A different kind of writing book. First up is a link to a book. I’ve known about and been anticipating this release for months. No, it’s not a sweeping romance, a cozy mystery, or a great women’s fiction read. It’s a nonfiction book for writers, written by hybrid (traditionally- and self-published) author and friend of the blog Mindy Klasky. The Rational Writer is a kind of book I’ve never read before, as it’s about the nuts and bolts of the business of writing, broken down into step-by-step instructions for all the business concerns we creative types often seek to avoid. But no more sticking our heads in the sand. As Mindy says, ‘It’s your writing career. Make the most of it!’

A must-read interview. Perhaps you’ve heard of Neil Gaiman*, author of Anansi Boys, American Gods, Neverwhere, and about a hundred other books you’d probably recognize. Perhaps you’ve heard of Kazuo Ishiguro, author of The Remains of the Day, Never Let Me Go, and a slew of other amazing books that have been made into movies (and some that haven’t). Perhaps you’ve heard of both of these fabulous storytellers, in which case, this is your lucky day! In an article in the New Statesman, these two literary powerhouses discuss genre – what it is, what separates it from ‘literary writing’, whether anyone outside of New York or London publishing houses really cares, and a lot of other thought-provoking topics that just might make you rethink how you define your own writing and whether you really should.

A fabulous writers’ organization (no, not that one). A lot of us here at 8LW are members of RWA. We like or love the organization to varying degrees. All of the Ladies who live in the US (and the one who hails from ‘across the pond’) will descend on NYC in July to participate in RWA Nationals. But while that’s certainly one of the larger and more powerful coalitions of writers, it’s not the only one. I recently came across a great group of women’s fiction authors with Women’s Fiction Writers of America. So far, this has been a virtual organization, but they’ll be holding their first ever live conference this coming fall. But one of the things I already love about this fast-growing group is the way they showcase member authors, with everything from online release day parties to week-long Facebook Q&A interactions connecting fans and writers (and there’s no requirement to join WFWA to participate as a reader!). I’ve just joined WFWA, but I’m looking forward to spending a lot more time with this new tribe of writers I’ve found.

A new perspective on Outlander – the TV series. We’ve discussed Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander book series and the TV adaption of it previously on the blog. Over at Storywonk, they’re not just discussing the TV series, they’re diving into the deep end of story analysis with their Outlander podcasts. I have to admit, having read the books, I was not looking forward to watching the last two episodes of the first season (spoiler alert: Bad Things happen). So in an attempt to cover my eyes and peer around my fingers, I stopped by to hear what Lani Diane Rich and Alistair Stephens had to say about it on their podcast, aptly titled The Scot and the Sassenach. Wow, can they ever talk story. After hearing them dissect those two episodes, beginning with the title card (ever heard of a title card?), all the way through the roll of the credits, I went back and started listening to their scene-by-scene, beat-by-beat study of the series, beginning with episode one. If you’ve enjoyed watching any part of the series, or heck, even if you haven’t but you love to think about/discuss/dissect story – what works, what doesn’t, how it could be improved – you really must check out this podcast.

A twisted way to think about story. Last month, my husband and I went to see a film called The Room. If you’ve never heard of The Room, it might be because you don’t know enough ‘millenials’. Let’s just say it’s as much a cult classic among today’s college kids as The Rocky Horror Picture Show was to previous generations (when dinosaurs roamed the earth and some of us ‘olds’ were young). My husband and I watched The Room (sometimes called the Citizen Kane of bad movies) the way I’m sure the story gods intended it to be watched – with the helpful color commentary of a group called Rifftrax. Rifftrax has some of the members of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 group, so you can imagine where this is going. If you check out their website, you’ll see you can download their commentary on lots of movies. If you get a chance to do it, keep your writer brain engaged while you listen to them, because in addition to provide sometimes hilarious commentary, they’re also using their humor to point out flaws in the screenwriting and storytelling. And the next time you want to take a shortcut in your writing, you can imagine Rifftrax doing running commentary. It might just inspire you to work a little bit harder to get it just right.

10 thoughts on “Nancy: Links, Learning, and Laughs

  1. LOL, damn you, Nancy! I see some major time commitments here . . . especially with Rifftrax. Oh well, my busiest weekends are done; I may have time to sit down and watch a movie or two twice.

    Definitely going over to New Statesman right now to procrastinate, er, brush up my English with Gaiman and Ishiguro (-:. I was trying to stay awake today looking at some old HABOs from Smart Bitches, Trashy Books. Worked, too! So, your link should balance out my daily intake of Internet nicely.

  2. I second what Michaeline said. I started reading the Gaiman/Ishiguro interview when I was supposed to be working on my novel. Days need another 4 hours just for learning more stuff about writing.

    • Last week, it seemed like every time I went looking for something online, I found some other shiny thing that got my attention. Loved the Gaiman/Ishiguro interview. Hope you enjoy it, too!

  3. There’s an asterisk after Neil Gaiman’s name because I wanted to share my favorite Gaiman sighting story, then forgot to include it. So I’ll share it here in the comments.

    *When my daughter was in middle and high school, she was a fan of a group called The Dresden Dolls and saw them in concert multiple times. Fast forward a few years, my daughter’s in college near Philadelphia, the band has broken up but the female half of it, Amanda Palmer, is on a solo tour, and my daughter goes to TLA in downtown Philly to see her and then went backstage. (When my daughter studied music at Peabody, her teachers taught her you should always try to go backstage and meet the performers after a show, which my daughter does to this day, usually successfully.) Later that night, Lovely Daughter and I had a text message exchange that went something like this (but with more acronyms and abbreviations):

    Lovely Daughter: Amanda Palmer concert was awesome! Went backstage and she signed my CD.
    Me: Yay! Did she remember you?
    LD: Doubtful, though she said she did because she’s very nice. Also got to meet her boyfriend.
    Me: Another musician?
    LD: Actually, a writer. Neil Game, I think?
    Me: Neil Gaiman?
    LD: Yes, that’s it. Have you heard of him?
    Me: NEIL GAIMAN?
    LD: I take it you’ve heard of him.
    Me: He’s kind of a writing rock star.
    LD: Really nice guy. He signed my CD, too.

    Tl;dr: Neil Gaiman is a nice guy and just might sign your CD if you ask nicely.

        • SQUEEEEEEE!

          Ahem.

          I got obsessed for a brief period this spring with Neil Gaiman, and through YouTube became acquainted with his lovely wife, Amanda Fucking Palmer. She plays ukelele! And she sings! There’s this great clip from early in their friendship where’s she’s in her underwear playing Radiohead’s “Creep” for Neil. Swoonworthy. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AcHqg_AXeqA

          Also, I have a lot of love for their rendition of “Makin’ Whoopee.” And the rest of their “An Evening with . . .” is worth the time spent.

          They are really a fascinating couple in their public performances. There’s a romance novel in there somewhere.

  4. Micki, I’ll have to show that youtube clip to my daughter. She’s not a Radiohead fan, but like that rendition :-). Agreed, there is something fascinating about them as a couple. Maybe it’s just that they seem to like each other so much.

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