Nathan Bransford, Author

Monday, March 31, 2014

Daniel José Older on channeling darkness and writing unique characters

Daniel José Older is a writer on the rise, and Tor recently published his chilling and compelling urban fantasy short story Anyway: Angie.

Daniel was kind enough to join me for a Twitter chat, where we talked about everything from channeling darkness into writing, channeling the voice of a character who is very different from you, and the importance of Twitter to the modern writer.

Check it out:

Monday, March 17, 2014

6th Annual Blog Bracket Challenge!!

It's mid-March, and you know what that means. Our 6th blog bracket challenge!!

Who is the greatest literary bracket prognosticator of them all?

Probably whoever has not been following basketball this year. People, that's how these things work.

All you have to do is pick winners in a tournament of 64 er 68 teams. It is basically mathematically impossible to pick them all correctly. Except I'm totally going to do that this year.

Here we go!

The winner with the most points at the end of the NCAA tournament will win a query critique and a copy of whichever of my books you so desire!! (or other suitable agreed-upon prize)

Here's how to enter:

1. Go to the front page of the ESPN tournament challenge:

2. Make your picks.

3. If you have an ESPN username and password from last year you can log in when you submit your picks, and you can also just click to rejoin the Bransford Blog Challenge. Otherwise you may need to create a new user ID and password. But don't worry, it's not onerous and you can decline to receive updates in case you're spam conscious.

4. Hover over the link that says "My Groups" and then click "Create or Join a Group"

5. Search for "Bransford Blog Challenge." Enter the password, which is "rhetorical" and then click Join Group.

Then you're all set! You can make changes to your bracket by clicking on it until it locks on Thursday (and yes, there are play-in games before then, but the bracket still doesn't lock until Thursday).

All updates/trahstalking will occur in this dedicated thread in the Forums, so make sure to join us there.

Good luck!!

Friday, March 14, 2014

This Past Few Weeks in Books 3/14/14

Photo by me. I'm on Instagram here.
The! Past! Few! Weeks! In! Books!

Lots and lots and lots of good stuff. Let's get started.

Should books come out faster? The idea has long taken hold with self-publishing, but it's percolating elsewhere. Even traditional publishing imprints are experimenting with releasing series as fast as possible.

Are you putting off reading the rest of this article? Maybe this is why.

My good friend Sarah McCarry, aka The Rejectionist, has continued her incredible interviews with writers who are navigating depression. The latest: Elia OsunaLitsa DremousisJacqui MortonKatherine LockeB R SandersRoxane GayMattilda Bernstein Sycamore and Soren Melville. Must read, all of them.

Meanwhile, in other The Rejectionist news, she wrote an incredibly thought-provoking article arguing that recent dystopian fiction avoids current realities relating to race and gender violence.

In still other The Rejectionist news, a field guide to The Unlikable Female Protagonist.

Is this the year's most mind-expanding book around gender?

Anne Rice has joined the fight against author harassment on Amazon.

Are you interested in writing a picture book? Here are six tips.

Amtrak has launched a seriously awesome plan to start a writer's residency program. However, as Author Beware notes, there are things you should know.

Stephen King: The adverb is not your friend.

And finally, this is the only article about The Bachelor that you need to read. Which is really saying something.

Have a good weekend!!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

What are you reading?

It's been a while since I asked this one but I thought I'd get a pulse on the current reading public.

What are you reading at the moment?

I'm reading the fantastic Hollow City by my friend Ransom Riggs. Like many other people I was so impressed by the conceit of the found photographs that give so much peculiar life to Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, yet what really brings these novels to life is Ransom's incredibly deft writing, which is on brilliant display in Hollow City.

Highly recommend.

What about you?

Art: Portrait of a Bibliophile by Anonymous

Monday, March 10, 2014

The temptation of shutting down your social media accounts

We've all been there.

There are times when social media can feel so infuriating, when it feels like all everyone does is look for an excuse to feel outraged, and sometimes you might even find yourself the target of that outrage.

There are times when it feels like other people are so popular, so happy, and you're struck by your own imperfections.

There are times when you feel like you put so much work into just staying above water, doing the bare minimum, to check off a box of "Things Writers Are Supposed to Be Doing," but like the Red Queen in Alice and Wonderland you're just running to stay in the same place.

There are times when it feels tempting to shut it all down, to just retreat into the real world, to let the next fad come and pass and not invest so much time into something so temporal.

It's tempting to want to shut down your social media accounts and not even bother with the difficulties that come with putting yourself out there on the Internet, especially those times when someone out there in cyberland takes time out of their day to try to cut you down to size. The Chinese government invented a chilling term for the practice of seeking out people to shame on the Internet. They call it the Human Flesh Search Engine.

I've felt all of those things at various times over the last seven+ years of blogging (gahh!!!! Seven years WHERE DOES THE TIME GO). But I've never decided to shut it all down. I still have my social accounts, and I still blog.

For one thing, to shut it down feels like a false retreat. Yes, maybe you would feel a short term gain to disappear into virtual darkness and just let the Twitterverse spin on. You may win a temporary reprieve, but as people like Satoshi Nakamoto go to show, the Internet can still find you even (or especially) when you don't want to be found.

It seems like this is the way the world is going whether we like it or not. The future is going to be a confusing mix of public and private, with a heavy emphasis on the public. Even if you have warts out there on the Internet, at least you're out there. At least you have a trail that people can examine and consider the whole, people who know you and can come to your defense. It gives you a voice, even if it can feel at times like there's no escape.

As tempting as it can be to want to hunker down and let the world pass over you, it still seems like you lose still more by retreating into the wilderness. I don't know where this is all going, but I'm excited enough about the future to stay in public on the Internet, even as I wonder sometimes what in the world we're all doing.

Have you ever thought about shutting down your accounts and retreating? What did you decide?

Art: The Red Queen's Race by John Tenniel

Monday, March 3, 2014

You don't have to write every day

One of the most persistent myths in the writing pantheon is that "serious" writers write every day.

Like many myths, this one contains a kernel of truth, namely that many writers do write every day. The rhythm and discipline of sitting down every day is important to some writers, and many of them believe so wholeheartedly in their own process that they elevate this to "requirement" status. They can't imagine not writing every day, so it becomes an ironclad rule and some hector others as unserious.

I've said this several times before, but I still see this myth repeated so often I feel like it's time to chime in again. You don't have to write every day. You really don't. I certainly don't write every day.

I'm not a morning person, so I can't wake up early to write in the mornings. And after a long day's work, I'm usually too mentally exhausted to write. So I get my writing done on weekends.

Moreover, I find the breaks between writing times to be very beneficial. Those breaks are ideas times, when I'm letting my mind wander, making free associations, and planning what I'm going to write when the weekend comes. By the time I finally get back to the computer, I'm ready.

Does this mean I write more slowly? I don't think so, actually. I wrote all three Jacob Wonderbar novels in 6-8 months. I just had to carve out quite a bit of time on the weekends.

Don't let other writers shame your style. You don't have to write every day. Unless you do. Whatever works for you. Just get the job done.

Art: Captive balloon with clock face and bell, floating above the Eiffel Tower by Camille Grávis

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