Margaret Atwood, Game of Thrones superfan…

Read this and had to share: Margaret Atwood on Game of Thrones: ‘Real people, every murderous one’. Well, if George pops off before the series is done, maybe she can finish it for him. Wouldn’t that be interesting?

Essay of the Week: Telling family stories

Raising Teenagers: The Mother of All Problems – NYTimes.com by Rachel Cusk. Ignore the headline–this is an amazing essay about the stories we invent for ourselves and our families. We are all storytellers. Sometimes we forget that our children our storytellers too, and have the right to tell their own stories of their lives, rather than abide by ours. 

Essay of the week: Childless by choice

Childless by Choice – NYTimes.com by Michele Huneven.

Huneven is the author of JameslandThis was a moving essay on her decision not to have children.

Essay of the week: The Vast Realm of ‘If’

There is beauty in our dreams of change, our constant what ifs. Days begin in the realm of solemn undertakings — to eat less, to exercise more, to work harder, or to go gentler. They end with wobbles into compromise, or collapses into indulgence, with the perennial solace of the prospect of another day. The good-intentions dinner, a salad with a couple of slivers of chicken, turns into a Burrito with cheese and avocado and salsa and chicken. That’s human.

via The Vast Realm of ‘If’ – NYTimes.com.

Essay of the week: About MFA Writing Programs

Things I Can Say About MFA Writing Programs Now That I No Longer Teach in One – Books – The Stranger by James Yamasaki.

Well, this was a controversial essay, to say the least. He divides aspiring writers into three groups:

I had a handful of students whose work changed my life. The vast majority of my students were hardworking, thoughtful people devoted to improving their craft despite having nothing interesting to express and no interesting way to express it. My hope for them was that they would become better readers. And then there were students whose work was so awful that it literally put me to sleep.

Tough truths, but after spending several months now reading and reviewing “indie books” (and having yet to run across the “real deal”), I tend to agree.

Essay of the Week: How one stupid tweet

How One Stupid Tweet Blew Up Justine Sacco’s Life – NYTimes.com by Jon Ronson.

A good resource for writers…

I recommend that all writers, whether you intend to self-publish or publish traditionally, read the excellent and short reviews of self-published books that Jefferson Smith (and occasional guest reviewers) posts at Immerse or Die. Smith maintains that the most important quality of fiction is whether it enables the reader to become immersed in the story, an assertion with which I wholeheartedly agree. This is the elusive quality of suspension of disbelief, that ability to forget you’re reading about made-up places and characters, and to instead actually believe that what you’re reading could have really happened to these real people. This is why we readers want to read.

In his reviews Smith explains exactly why his immersion was broken (or less often, not broken) by the book he is reviewing. His clear and precise explanations have helped me pinpoint exactly what I disliked about the self-published books I have been reviewing. They should be very instructive to writers as what not to do.

Nothing will kill your story faster than grammatical errors and superfluous typos. Believe it!