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Friday Links 01.04.13

One of my great discoveries during 2012 was the wealth of insight I stumble across each week —  from the fabulous writers, editors, agents, journalists and more that I follow on Twitter, to some of the professional groups I participate in, to resources I come across in my work.

Fitting for the first Friday of the new year, I’m kicking off this new column — Friday Links — to share the best reading I’ve found each week, just in time for your weekend reading. I anticipate featuring anything from interviews with writers, advice on writing and publication, reading and publishing news… to issues on art, education or culture.

Welcome to Friday Links — and the new year!

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“Posthumous” Jeffrey Eugenides | The New Yorker

Adapted from a speech given to the 2012 Whiting Award winners, this fabulous essay from the New Yorker’s blog is identified in the magazine’s link as “Jeffrey Eugenides’ advice to young writers.”

Is That Kind of Like a French Pencil?

Perhaps I found kindred spirit in this interview — connecting over the voices of his 7th grade writers compared to my own middle grade writing students — but I loved The Literary Man’s interview with Andrew Slater, a writer and former soldier who has gone back to live in Iraq, teaching English and writing. The title was his answer to the question, What is your writing routine?

Rachelle Gardner: What Not to Blog About

Literary agent Rachelle Gardner has endeared herself to writers with the depth of her advice about all levels of the publication process, including best uses of social media. In this article, she offers the most important “no-nos” for a writer to avoid in protecting their professional persona.

Day of Week Affects Facebook Responsiveness

While on social media… here is an interesting analysis via MarketingVox. I’d heard analytics before about best days of the week to post to Twitter or Facebook — but this analyzes the level of interaction posts get for each day of the week by industry.  Holly Harrison (@hollharris; the “marketing broad” for litmag Paper Darts) cleverly observed that each industry’s target graph looks like a different origami animal. For those of us communicating in publishing, Sunday is a hotter day to hit than Monday.

And, celebrating the new year, some great New Year posts:

Stones in My Pockets: Resolve for 2013 by Gerry Wilson

Starting the New Year 60,000 Words Ahead by Laura Maylene Walter

In Which I Fail (Most of) My Resolutions… But End 2012 on a Good Note (Really) by Nova Ren Suma

The Yearly Reboot by Jeannine Bergers Everett

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Twitter for Writers: Top People to Follow on Twitter (and Useful Hashtags)

I’ve posted before (Why Writers Should Use Twitter and Social Media for Writers: Twitter v Facebook) about the ways I’ve come to value Twitter.  I’ve gathered a list of the people and organizations I’ve found most interesting to follow on Twitter this year.

I recommend them based on interest, usefulness and activity level on Twitter.  That is important to say, since, for example, the lit-mag and writer lists clearly leave off many magazines and writers I love.

The list is partially annotated, and loosely categorized (nearly all of those listed might fit in more than one category) and includes some related hashtags.  Also, there are links to my lists within Twitter, to find more writers, magazines and more.

I hope it is useful to you, and would be interested to hear  your own recommendations in the comments — better yet, look me up!  Elissa Field on Twitter: @elissafield.

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Agents:

(Some agent specialties are listed, although I follow many agents outside my genre, based on the information shared in their tweets.)

@RachelleGardner – an agent whose advice on everything from querying to income is thorough and honest.

@DonMaass – ubiquitous agent, Donald Maass

@SaraMegibow – a lovely agent at Nelson Literary Agency, who shares sample replies by posting #10queriesin10tweets (Thursdays)

@michellewitte – MG & YA lit

@sarahlapolla – associate at Curtis Brown

Michelle, Sarah and other agents share advice in open Q & A #askagent chat (Wed evenings)

@greyhausagency – represents romance and women’s lit, and shares sample replies with #GLAQueries

@NepheleTempest – CA lit agent, writer, reader

@QueryShark – a great resource, offering frank critiques of queries submitted by writers

(Note: you can find more than 30 agents and junior agents by checking my list of agents .)

Editors:

@mpnye – Michael Nye is managing editor of Missouri Review, and author of Strategies Against Extinction

@HannahTinti – editor of One Story, author of The Good Thief and more

@robspill – Rob Spillman, Tin House editor

@MargotLivesey – editor of Ploughshares, author of The Flight of Gemma Hardy (on my reading list) and other novels

Also, check out my list of editors, and publishers.

Literary Magazines:

@parisreview – The Paris Review

@GrantaMag – Granta

@_conjunctions – Conjunctions

@Missouri_Review – Missouri Review

@haydensferryrev – Haydens Ferry Review

@mcsweeneys – Timothy McSweeney’s Quarterly

@NERweb – New England Review

@asfmag – American Short Fiction

@TheReviewReview – a review of literary magazines

@Tin_House – Tin House

@PaperDarts  – Paper Darts

@onestorymag – One Story

(In addition, here is a listing of 70+ literary mags I follow.)

Writers:

@NathanEnglander – his Ministry of Special Cases (2008) was one my best-reads last year

@meganmayhewbergman – has been featured in BASS and has a great short story collection out (2011). Her tweets about writing and life on a New England farm with tiny daughters and vet-husband are elegantly genuine.

@Benjamin_Percy – a great writer, on my list of great workshop leaders as well

@alexanderchee – author of Edinburgh (2002), with new novel coming

@alanheathcock -award winning author of highly charged collection, VOLT (2011)

@CherylStrayed – author of the memoir Wild

@tayari – Tayari Jones, author of Silver Sparrow and more

@SalmanRushdie – does he need introduction?

@Shteyngart – most enjoy his tweets in exchange w others, like Rushdie

@novaren – the writer of YA novel, Imaginary Girls, and more

@katemessner – a children’s writer and TED2012 speaker, who hosted TeachWrite! camp this summer

@alexizentner – author of Touch and The Lobster Kings (coming 2013)

@unitedirishman – Irish ex-pat writing crime noir (his The Cold Cold Ground is on my reading list), whose blog is fierce with wit and intelligence

I will read anything this witty writer posts:

@mat_johnson – author of the novel Pym, whose twitter profile reads, “Because it amuses me to say so.”

@emmastraub – author (on my summer reading list: Other People We Married (2012)), bookseller, @RookieMag  staffwriter, with a lovely wit.

(I follow many more writers than this, so check my list of writers.)

Writer-Resources:

@Duotrope – a powerful writers’ resource listing 3,500 publications, with submission tracker — posts updates about publication reading periods, etc.

@newpages – tweets updated info on litmags, booksellers and more for writers, editors and readers.

@GrubWriters – Grub Street center for creative writing in Boston, hosts the MUSE conference in May (hastag #MUSE2012, or -2012

@poetswritersinc – Poets & Writers magazine – the only “how to” magazine I’ve ever liked for writers

@galleycat – “first word for news in the publishing industry” from Mediabistro

@PublishersLunch – tweets for Publishers Weekly

@BTMargins – Beyond the Margins literary blog

@janefriedman – has been an editor, current role changing, she posts frequently on all aspects of publishing and promoting literature

@Porter_Anderson

@JonathanGunson – a writer, sharing publishing, writing & emedia advice

@ErikaDreifus – author of The Quiet Americans, collects and shares useful information for writers

Teaching & Teaching Writing:

@writingproject – National Writing Project

@edutopia – “what works in education” – the George Lucas educational foundation

@RWTnow – Read Write Think. org

@nytimeslearning – New York Times Learning Network

Social Media or PR:

@robertleebrewer – a poet whose blog My Name is Not Bob is generous with advice on social media and more

@kmullett – Kevin Mullett – a developer/designer tech guy, not PR, who just… well, seems to get all those things folks have questions about

@wordwhacker – Linda Bernstein – writer, editor, blogger, posting about all this and social media and parenting

Look for Kevin and Linda on SM & tech chats using hashtags including: #pinchat #toolschat #tocc (tools of change)

Indie Booksellers:

@TatteredCover – an indie in Denver, with great online content

@indiebound – use indiebound.org to locate your neighborhood indie bookseller online, or purchase books online from any indie in the network.

(Raid this list to find all the independent booksellers I follow. Find one near you to do your shopping.  Find one to order from.  Connect with these guys to build your reading tour when your book launches.)

News Sources:

My two favorite sources for news:

@nytimes – The New York Times

@guardian – The UK’s Guardian

Other sources I follow:

@reuters – Reuters top news

@the_irish_times – Irish Times

@washingtonpost – Washington Post

Book News & Reviews:

@nytimesbooks – New York Times Books

@nybooks – NY Review of Books

@latimesbooks – LA Times Books

@guardianbooks – Guardian Books

Online Curators:

@brainpicker – Maria Popova shares one brilliant thing found online

@FridayReads – use the hashtag #fridayreads to share what you are reading each week

More Hashtags and Chats I Follow:

#toc variations – Tools of Change discussions and conferences

#litchat – literary or book chats held several times each week – great to visit, or to add to your book release tour

#YAlit, #MGlit or #kidlit – chats about young adult, middle grade & children’s lit

#amwriting #writetip – for kindred spirits at work on writing

#WSchat (formerly #MNINB) – Used by Wordsmith Studio, a writers’ group formed by participants from Robert Lee Brewer’s April 2012 Platform Challenge

#educhat – matters related to teaching and education

Twitter trick: Have you ever wondered what a hashtag stood for and didn’t know how to look it up?  Try this: http://tagdef.com/

(If you’re curious about a meaning and the tag is not listed on the tagdef site — as happened for me with #WTLconf12 — you can always tweet someone using the tag to ask them the meaning.)

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Feel free to add your suggestions or your own Twitter ID in the comments, and do look me up: @elissafield

Housekeeping takes time: if we are already connected on Twitter, check to see if I added you to the twitter list you would fit on by checking here. If not, private message me so I can add you.

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Social Media for Writers: Twitter (vs. Facebook)

I was just responding on Facebook to writer Kathy Conde, who read my last post about Why Writers Should Use Twitter (and my 5 Top Tips). Kathy is a fabulous writer in Colorado .  We met through online forums, but she expressed her reluctance with Twitter as arising partly from the cryptic brevity of twitter-speak.

Not just hashtags, not poetic brevity.  Twitter is more like semaphores, is it not?  Like telegram days, when you paid by the word. “Not dead. Home soon.”

We rose up from being cavemen, right?  Grunted, “Talk gooder,” and invented grammar for clarity.  Spent centuries melding language from hundreds of cultures to achieve elegance and exactness in word and sentence and intonation. Wordsmiths from throughout the ages must be smacking foreheads in their graves over this ugly Twitter relapse in language skills.

On that we agree.  I shudder to type “r” as a verb when 140 characters doesn’t leave room for the “a” and “e.”

But here’s the thing. If I were a sentry on a Revolutionary hill who spotted troops advancing, I might later have written a letter to my mother with real words and exclamations to describe the experience — but, in the moment, I would have been pretty stoked to have signal fire on hand to warn the distant village.

What’s odd about that metaphor is part of why Twitter is actually more intimate than one would expect. All that sentry can do is light a fire. Yet imagine the people in the village, the moment they see the plumes of smoke. Instantly, they know what the signal fire means. They experience communication of the shared fear — internally getting all it implies.  They build their own fire to signal back, “We saw it.  Thanks,” and to relay the warning on to the town next distant.

The signal fire at work for writers: Writers (Cheryl Strayed, Meghan Mayhew Bergman, Rebecca Makkai, Saeed “Ferocious Jones”) post that they have a reading at a book store tonight. I’m not in their town, but I know immediately their mix of expectation and hope for an audience. I have followers in that town.  I retweet, lighting signal fire for the next village:  “Are you in Brooklyn/Minneapolis/Pittsburgh… ? Go see…”

Twitter does this, but accomplishes what the fire only wished it could. That sentry, now long in his grave, nods in envy, because his fire could signal only “danger.”  The citizens of London neighborhoods tweeting about riots last summer could name streets, buildings, the kinds of danger and, when details got longer than 140 characters, add a link.  The sentry could have linked a blog on the number of soldiers, if they were on foot or horseback, a map with the direction of approach.

The signal-fire-plus-link works for writers partly through the access it gives us to immense cross sections of useful reading.  One Sunday morning I stumbled across a post with a hashtag for a publishing industry “non”-conference held in NYC, with countless industry players tweeting streams of the current issues and thoughts in the industry live from the various panels and roundtables they attended. Another morning began with link to a lighthearted and candid New York Times feature sharing Nathan Englander’s plans for the day, from coffeehouse and dogwalking, through writing and editing, through evening dinner plans. My last two Mondays, morning writing was kicked off by inspiration from Twitter links. This week, it was an hour-long conversation between Michael Chabon and Andrew Sean Greer, recorded at the Aspen Institute’s Winter Words.  They became the conversation in the room, as I re-envisioned a scene for my Irish novel (random piece about the character’s difficulty to steady his key to open a lock), that I now love.

Of course, the signal-fire-plus-link also serves writers as a chance to reach readers, by sharing links to new work or blogs, or simply things that interest us.

The main reason I have come to prefer Twitter over Facebook in recent months comes partly because of Facebook’s constantly shifting respect for its users — I begin to doubt the company’s integrity in how it will use our information, and many of my friends have begun to shun it, which makes it less useful to me.  Beyond this, Twitter offers a different kind of access than FB.  The benefit of Facebook conversations is they are comparable to a chat you’d have with someone you know over coffee. In that sense, they are more full and extended. The benefit to exchanges on Twitter is you have access to anyone. Exchanges are more limited, like what you’d say passing someone in the hall or riding on an elevator or passing on the street, possibly handing off a paper to be read. But think about that “passing on the street” essence:  How often, passing a stranger on the street would they pause in their step to tell you about the fab article they just read?  On Twitter, they do.  And that’s the difference.  Like living in a friendly, small town — but populated by everyone you could hope to connect with, in any industry or area of interest.

I describe it as a warm environment, but key to that is the amount you participate. If you rarely post or connect, then exchanges will be as cold as that stranger reading the paper on the subway. As you become more engaged, those “on the street” exchanges seem more like the way people in small southern towns used to call out to each other, sitting on front porches, to trade news. The people on the street may still be strangers, but with the familiarity of people in your village.

A couple weeks ago, Nova Ren Suma (author of Imaginary Girls and other young adult fiction, whom I first discovered through a Twitter #YAlit chat) was one of dozens of people tweeting that she was going to see Hunger Games.  Only, I knew that her tweeting this news was different from the hundreds of others reporting on the movie’s premiere, because she was in her second week of a monthlong writer’s residency in a grassy-hilled retreat overlooking the distant Pacific, so it took the coincidence of an excursion into town for her to be able to see the movie. I’ve read enough updates by New England writer Meghan Mayhew Bergman about her children, her marriage to a country vet, and their countless dogs, cats, chickens and other animals, to feel it when she posted about the sadness she felt, watching their aging dog approach her up the drive.

That said, I completely get the blank cryptic feel Twitter has.

In my post the other day, I said it took me months (years?) to warm to Twitter. Even now, I don’t feel that connection every time I glance at the feed.  The reason I post an article like this is because all the new forms of media are continually evolving grey areas for all of us. I once loved Facebook, wrangling all my friends to join. Now, I use it less, while a few of those who once refused to join are the ones prodding me to get back to it. I was reluctant with Twitter, now I sing its praises, although maybe six months from now I’ll be posting what a time-drain it is and no one clicks my links anyway (grinning, to imagine). Oh, now friends, don’t let’s even mention Pinterest. I was complete skeptic there, but do you know the greatest linker to my blog these days?…

If you want to find me on any of these media forms, I do welcome connection.  In the comments, I’m sure we’d all love to hear what media has worked for you and which ones you avoid.

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Related Posts:

Why Writers Should Use Twitter & Top 5 Tips to Get Started

Twitter for Writers: My Top Recommended Users (& Useful Hashtags)

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