A Selection of Options for Writers

Books, Authors, Lit Mags, Articles, and Writer's Conferences of Note

Writers of fan fiction might want to keep a close eye on a lawsuit that could determine whether, under certain circumstances, use of tropes from the alternate-universe world of the Omegaverse violates copyright laws. As described by a recent article in the N.Y. Times (aptly titled "A Feud in Wolf-Kink Erotica Raises a Deep Legal Question"), one writer's use of tropes can be another writer's copyright infringement. Although the suit focuses on Zoey Ellis's popular "Myth of Omega" series—where social hierarchies are based on the behavioral patterns of wolves—the lawsuit might well determine the legal boundaries for much of the fan fiction universe.

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The ongoing debate about cultural appropriation, "cancel culture," and the #ownvoices movement shows no signs of dying down—especially in YA literature. Amélie Wen Zhao's recent attempt to publish her first novel, as recounted in the N.Y. Times, offers an eye-opening view into the new publishing landscape that is currently being shaped by these movements. 

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As she demonstrated at the recent "Muse and the Marketplace" Writer's Conference in Boston, agent and author advocate April Eberhardt has her finger on the ever-changing pulse of the publishing world. She offers insight into exciting new publishing options for indie authors, including hybrid presses and co-op publishers. April can skillfully guide your book through the complicated maze of publication. But be forewarned: she accepts only 5 to 10 new manuscripts per year.

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The 2019 "Muse and the Marketplace" Writer's Conference is approaching. Discounts for young writers, writers of color, and writers traveling from outside of New England are now available. 

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Scholarships to the 2019 Muse and the Marketplace Writer's Conference in Boston are available in $250 allotments. Consistently one of the best writer's conferences each year, "Muse" attracts a wide range of editors, agents, bestselling authors, and aspiring writers from across the country. Deadline for scholarship applications is November 5.

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Writers of either high or low fantasy might want to get their hands on a copy of Writing Fantasy & Science Fiction. This compendium by the Editor's of Writer's Digest outlines how religious, aesthetic, and scientific aspects of world cultures such as Mesoamerica and Oceania underlie many classic works of fantasy. It also notes that much of today's classic fantasy has roots in far older tales.  Tolkien's elves and dwarfs, for example, harken back to Norse mythology. The authors also write that the elves in the Lord of the Rings trilogy  "set the standard (and eventual cliché)" of what an elf is. Thus the book's chapters on "Creatures of Myth and Legend," "Witchcraft and Pagan Paths," and "The Infinite Boundary" are instructional, as far as how authors of fantasy can reference old cultures as touchstones for creating memorable characters surpassing the standard clichés of elves, orcs, and halflings. (Note: I found this book less useful for sci-fi authors, despite the book's title.)

 

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Whether you're a seasoned author or a new writer, chances are good you've heard the advice "show, don't tell"—meaning, in part, be sure to have your narrator show the reader what is happening rather than interjecting your authorial voice to tell the reader what is happening. As Janice Hardy writes in the insightful book "Understanding Show, Don't Tell (And Really Getting It)," the difference is like having your best friend describe a scene in a movie to you rather than imagining yourself as a character in that scene. Hardy's remarkable book will teach you how to spot instances in your writing where you tell rather than show—and will show you how to fix them. This is perhaps the single best book for beginning writers and first-time authors I have come across! (A shout-out to my colleague Tonya Gold for alerting me to this book.)

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In an insightful article articulating the writer/agent/editor/bookseller dynamic, "Poets & Writers Magazine" once again demonstrates why it is one of the premiere "go to" resources for writers navigating the complex world of publishing. The article details how five recently published books came to fruition as each member of the creative team worked with the other members to ensure that the final product was the best possible version of the author's original vision....As usual, the entire July/August "Literary Agents Issue" of P&W is not to be missed!
 

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Independent authors looking for new vehicles for book sales might want to follow N.Y. Times best-selling author Michael Lewis's example by creating an audiobook. Although not an inexpensive option, audiobooks are becoming an increasingly popular vehicle for selling books—in some ways even more popular than ebooks, as noted in this N.Y. Times article.

 

For advice and tips regarding the pros and cons of the various audiobook platforms, check out Deborah Jacobs's blog post from earlier this year. Jacobs is a former writer for Forbes magazine; her article includes important insights into how royalties for audiobooks are distributed.

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The deadline for Boston-based GrubStreet's Emerging Writer Fellowship is March 1. The fellowship includes free courses, mentoring, and admission to this year's and next year's Muse and the Marketplace, one of the premier writer's conferences in the country. 

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The Muse and the Marketplace writer's conference takes place in Boston April 6 to 8. Called "the number one writing conference in North America" by Writer Magazine, the conference is the annual signature event of GrubStreet, the Boston-based writing organization. The conference is a 3-day affair, chock-full of sessions with authors, editors, and agents. Registration is open now; sessions fill up quickly. 

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In her first novel, "Those Who Save Us," and her novella "The Lucky One," author Jenna Blum has written about the psychological repercussions of the Holocaust with intelligence, compassion, and an eery but subtle brilliance. Catch her next novel, "The Lost Family," due out from Harper Collins June 5.