Posted by: Kerry Gans | August 28, 2014

Top Picks Thursday 08-28-2014

Posted by: Matt Q. McGovern | August 26, 2014

Why do you write?

I recently came across a site where a publisher asked a number of authors why they write, and I found the responses to be very informative. As wide-ranging as they were, I saw their reasons as falling into three categories.

Some of the reasons were professional, based on financial or project related reasons:

  • For the money.
  • It’s what I do for a living.
  • Because I can.
  • It’s a job.

Other reasons were more artistic based, reminding me of answers a painter, sculptor or musician might make:

  • I like to create, and writing is how I can accomplish that.
  • Invention of new worlds, etc.
  • Make the world a better place.
  • Letting my imagination go wild.
  • Seeing the world in a different light.
  • Writing is challenging and always changing the more I do it.

The last category of reasons I recognized was from the reader’s perspective:

  • I write because I read.
  • Reading wasn’t enough.
  • I love reading so much so I want to give back.
  • I write because I want to find out what happens next.

The last answer has always been my personal favorite, and the one that really made me think about how much preparation to put into a writing project. For me, my reasons to write are in the last category. I wonder if the reasons that authors give change as they get more experienced.

What do you think, and what are your reasons to write?

Posted by: Kerry Gans | August 21, 2014

Top Picks Thursday 08-21-2014

Welcome to our links roundup!

How many of us read Madeline as children? This year marks Madeline’s 75th birthday, and a new exhibit brings revelations about the books and author Ludwig Bemelmans.

All authors need to read. It’s one of the Golden Rules of authorhood. K.M. Weiland gives us the 10 commandments of reading like a writer.

Teens are not only reading voraciously, they’re writing, too. Julie Drew hopes YA lit can help close the gender gap in education, Kelly Jensen lists who YA fans should follow on Tumblr, and Chelsey Philpot examines the exploding world of teen fan fiction.

After the teen years, Lucy Horner recommends all twenty-somethings should read Tolstoy

Write For Kids explores how books and technology are changing kids’ lives worldwide, and are launching their own “The World Is Now Ours: A Children’s Writing Mission for the21st Century.”

CRAFT

Two pieces of general advice writers often hear are: you need a unique voice and show, don’t tell. Clare Langley-Hawthorne tells us how to find our voice, and Bronwyn Hemus shows why telling is as important as showing.

We talk mostly about novels here, but Neal Abbott gives us 3 reasons you should consider writing a novella right now. No matter what we write, our opening line is key. Jacob M. Appel lists 7 ways to create a killer opening line for your work.

So many bits of craft go into writing a good story. Mary Kole explains the bridging conflict, Jane Lebak focuses on fixing bland narration, and Diana Hurwitz tells us how to jazz up back story.

Getting the details right is important. Jay Korza provides surveillance information for writers, MJ Wright has 3 rules for naming your fantasy world (which works just as well for reality-based fictional worlds), and Perfect Prose Services lists 15 common spelling mistakes and how to avoid them.

Characters are what makes a novel live in the hearts and minds of your readers. Jami Gold asks: can characters be both strong and vulnerable? Anne R. Allen lists 5 protagonists readers hate. K.M. Weiland explains how to writer memorable (but not too memorable) walk-on characters, and Rebecca Lacko explores how to portray teen fears realistically.

Zachariah OHora advises facing fears to create great characters, Susie Rodarme shows us the 5 stages of grief that occur when bad things happen to good characters, and whatever you do, please don’t “fridge” your female characters.

One big fear for many writers: being original. C.S. Lakin explains why tweaking your writing and genre for success is not selling out. Margarita Tartakovsky has 5 creative cures for writer’s block and Bryon Quertermous lists 5 things you can learn from a freelance editor.

Writers are often portrayed as struggling with inner demons (and many do). Kathy Weyer says that writing is her Prozac, Chris Abouzeid gives an amusing 6 habits of highly tormented writers list, and Werner Herzog explains the connection between creativity and self-reliance.

In other writerly advice, Terry Pratchett shares—among other things—what books he would bring to a desert island, Miranda Mellis explores how a lifetime of odd jobs contributed to her creativity, and A.S. King shows us how to separate the writing from the business.

BUSINESS

So, Amazon is still in the news, this time trying to rally indie authors against Hachette. In doing so, they sent an email to indies in which they misquoted George Orwell—to which Bill Hamilton, literary executor for Orwell’s estate, responds (scroll to the last letter in the list). Here’s a roundup of Amazon’s friends and critics over Amazon’s latest moves. Meanwhile, Amazon is finally extending pre-order buttons to its KDP authors.

If you are self-publishing, Janine Savage explains why it takes a village to publish a book, hybrid author Holly Robinson busts some myths, and lawyer Helen Sedwick answers questions about copyright, pen names, and 1099s.

If you are seeking agents, Chuck Sambuchino tells you the best way to query, Jen Malone explains how to format a manuscript, Richard Ellis Preston describes how he got his agent, Susan Gourley/Kelly defines high concept, and Janet Reid explains the difference between writing credentials and platform.

Speaking of platform, Brooke Warner describes the makeup of a successful author platform, while Rachel Thompson explains how to build an audience before you have a product.

A large part of marketing is your book cover. Judy Probus lists the 5 keys to book cover success, and Janet Kobobel Grant judges many books by their covers.

Jason Kong recommends partnering with other authors to market your book, and Joe Bunting tells us the 5 elements of a perfect blog post.

THE UNIQUE SHELF

Where’s your favorite writing spot? Check out these 10 stunning writing studios.

Metropolitan Museum of Art head librarian Ken Soehner shares his favorite depictions of books.

The power of social media. Twitter users joined forces to decipher a 1928 overdue book slip

If you think Track Changes is hard to manage, see how Jane Austen used pins to edit one of her manuscripts

A look into the lingo of beggars and thieves: A New Dictionary of the Terms Ancient and Modern of the Canting Crew in its Several Tribes, of Gypsies, Beggars, Thieves, Cheats, etc., 1899 edition

Medieval manuscripts can impress with their giant size or with details like this disappearing fore-edge painting

That’s all for us this week!

Posted by: J. Thomas Ross | August 14, 2014

Top Picks Thursday, 08-14-2014

How can it be the middle of August already? Here in the U. S. Mid-Atlantic region we’ve had a much-appreciated, milder-than-usual summer, so we wouldn’t complain if it lasted a few extra months. We hope you’re enjoying your own summer relaxation and/or adventures as you check out this week’s collection of blog posts that caught our attention.

First, however, we have to express our sorrow at the deaths of two entertainment greats: Robin Williams and Lauren Bacall. Both were one-of-a-kind and will be sorely missed. RIP, Robin and Lauren.

CRAFT

Many of us have times when life events keep us from writing. Casey Herringshaw suggests reasons you should go to writers conferences even if you are not currently writing.

Ready to start writing? Emily Wenstrom lists 3 things you need to know before drafting a new story, and Joe Bunting presents a quote from Picasso that will make you want to start writing right now — but finish reading this post first!

To help you get started, Tracy Strauss offers suggestions how to harness creativity to empower your writing, and Jordan Dane lists 8 tips to keep your butt in the chair.

Having difficulty creating well-rounded characters? Jennifer Brinkmeyer presents 5 improv lessons for characterization. Matt Bird adds a tip to create a compelling character — the character must feel compelled to let people know about his or her unique perspective. K. M. Weiland discusses how to find your character’s breaking point, and C. S. Lakin stresses the importance of well-constructed secondary characters, the characters in novels who are allies and reflections of the protagonist.

Whether you’re a writer or just an average person typing an email, we’ve all had the experience of having typos which we don’t notice when we proofread. Nick Stockton explains why it’s so hard to catch your own typos. Recognizing that many unpublished writers cannot afford the services of a good editor, The Write Life Team offers 25 editing tips for tightening your copy, and Janine Savage clarifies the correct usage of the words good and well.

Are you a fast writer or a slow writer? If you fall into the latter group, Jami Gold offers some tips to help slow writers that she learned from Courtney Milan at the RWA14 writers conference. Janalyn Voight adds her suggestions on how to make time to write a novel.

For those writing genre fiction, C. S. Lakin discusses nailing your genre by studying successful authors. If your genre is mystery, Nancy J. Cohen details the elements of a mystery plot, and in the Huffington Post, Writer’s Relief presents ideas on writing memoir dialogue that speaks volumes.

James Chartrand discusses how fear of failure keeps writers from producing their best work.

Writers need to be readers too. K. M. Weiland lists the 10 commandments of reading like a writer.

Anne R. Allen relates that writers should ignore most of the advice from critique groups but can still benefit from the group, and she gives a comprehensive overview of what to ignore and what can prove helpful. Jami Gold introduces a helpful beta reader worksheet., while Harrison Demchick offers hope and suggestions for braving your second draft after writing a bad first draft.

BUSINESS

Now that your novel is finished, PJ Parrish offers reasons writing back copy is important, tips for doing it well, and examples of both well-written and uninspired back copy.

A writing conference is a good place for writers to meet and pitch to agents, but how do conferences benefit agents? Karen Dionne asks some literary agents why agents take the time to attend writers conferences.

Here’s Joe Konrath’s wish list for Authors Guild and other legacy publishing pundits.

Tara Sparling presents her survey results on what makes people buy self-published books, while Rowena Wiseman offers authors 14 tips for using Wattpad to attract readers.

Jeremy Greenfield reports that Amazon launches same-day delivery in six major cities, challenging the convenience of shopping at bookstores.

On the social media front, Molly Greene lists 15 must-have website essentials, and Joe Bunting give his 5 elements of a “perfect” blog post.

THE UNIQUE SHELF

Citing many famous writers’ assertions that all creative work builds on what has gone before, Maria Popova presents Drew Christie’s short animated video “Allergy to Originality.”

Check out Rab Florence’s tips for writing strong female characters.

Marian Allen advises writers to take joy in writing — good advice for any occupation!

That’s this week’s round-up. See you next week!

Posted by: Nancy Keim Comley | August 12, 2014

Folklore and Writing

IMG_8388I have been wrestling with the subject matter of this blog post for some days. The problem with me is that at the word ‘folklore’ I tend to get completely over-excited. Hand waving may even ensue. To me folklore is one of the most fascinating subjects. It inspires my fiction writing. Understanding what people do as a community and why they do it is always interesting.

Recently I was in Iceland. One morning, as we drove out to look at some volcanic formations, the guide mentioned that the longish piles of stone by the side of the road were from the middle ages.

Why? Why had people carried a lot of heavy rocks to this place and put them into a number of big piles? There had to be a reason. I had seen lines of roundish cairns that were used as a guide by travelers across the interior but these piles were a different shape. When asked the reason behind the mounds the guide explained that that area had been where, by tradition, criminals were executed. People piled the stones on the bodies of the dead felons to keep their spirits from roaming.

These stones were a physical expression of a folk belief. Fear, sadness, disgust at the crimes perpetuated (one of the convects was a serial killer who threw his victims bodies into a pond) and a hundredfold other emotions coalesced into the idea of putting a big pile of stones on top of a dead body. Those heaps of stones ensured that those who had threatened the community could never come back and, in turn, this comforted people and helped them feel safer.

As the very respected folklorist, Michael Owen Jones, explains, in folklore “…the forms and processes studied have in common at least three characteristics. They are symbolic, they are learned or generated in people’s firsthand interactions, and they are traditional, exhibiting continuities and consistencies in thought and behavior through time and space, respectively.” (1)

To quote him again: “The stories that people tell are not simply a dispassionate reporting of facts but dramatic performances vividly portraying some aspect of an event, in the process engaging teller and listener alike in a host of associations and possible inferences. Rituals convey meanings that transcend the mundane, invoking associations and feelings that otherwise are often ignored, discounted, or suppressed in our workaday lives. In other words, something visible is taken to stand for the invisible, whether ideas, qualities, or feelings. Even customs are symbolic. As “our” way of doing things, these traditions define behavior and express identity.” (2)

As a writer I not only mine folklore for ideas (note to self: what happens if someone removes those stones and the spirit gets out?) but for people’s/character’s motivations. People do things for a reason. Piling stones on top of the bodies of those who disturbed the community and put its cohesion in jeopardy strengthen the bonds of the group and brings them closer.

IMG_8422I’d love to hear if anyone else has a love of folklore or has been inspired by folklore.

 

 

 

 

 

1) Jones, Michael Owen. Putting Folklore To Use. Kentucky:  The University Press of Kentucky, 1994.

2) Jones, Michael Owen. Putting Folklore To Use. Kentucky:  The University Press of Kentucky, 1994.

Posted by: Kerry Gans | August 7, 2014

Top Picks Thursday 08-07-2014

Posted by: J. Thomas Ross | August 6, 2014

Creative Viewpoint: Close-up or Wide Angle

Creative people are often creative in more than one area. Well-known actors Kevin Bacon and Russell Crowe perform with bands. Former President George W. Bush, who has recently received note as a painter, is also a writer. Most of you can probably add more names to the list of celebrities who have multiple creative abilities.

Some of my multi-talented but less famous writer friends are also musicians or actors. Others prefer creative cooking or baking, costume creation or knitting/crocheting, graphic or fine art, or — like me — photography. I’m just an amateur at photography, but I keep experimenting, practicing, and learning. All three of these are valuable for writers as well as photographers. In addition, participating in other creative endeavors broadens a writer’s experience and encourages the writer to look at things from a different viewpoint, both of which enhance the writing.

The past month has been a busy one for me, with a lot of traveling to visit family and friends — from North Carolina to the Jersey Shore to Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania — as well as visits here from family. All this has provided a lot more opportunity for photography than for writing, but photography sharpens the perception and amps up the creativity, and that carries over into the writing.

For me, traveling time is a great time for thinking. I often get ideas for stories or solutions to plot problems while driving. On the way home from the shore this year, while I thought about photography and the photos I’d taken, my thoughts drifted to writing. A photographer, like a writer, makes a number of decisions, some conscious, some instinctive. The world is filled with beautiful and intriguing views, and a photographer has to continuously make decisions about what to photograph and what to pass by (my family would claim that I pass by very little, but that’s not true), and then about which photos to edit and save and which to delete. A writer makes similar decisions, choosing which scenes in the main character’s life to include and which to skip, and later, which sentences and paragraphs to revise and which to delete.

Just as a photographer has a reason to snap a particular photo, a writer needs a reason to include a particular scene in a novel or narrative non-fiction.

Another decision both must make is the viewpoint, and that decision is influenced by whether the photographer or writer wants to focus on the big picture or to zoom in to capture a moment in more detail.

When I walked to the beach last week to photograph the sunrise, I wanted to capture the dawn colors in the clouds and the water, so I needed to include as much of the scene as possible. I chose a wide-angle view which included a seagull flying past but did not focus on the bird.

 

Sunrise, Long Beach Island, NJ (8-1-14)

Sunrise, Long Beach Island, NJ (8-1-14)

 

Later, I chose to focus on the bird in a close-up on the beach.

 

Herring gull on the beach (7-30-14)

Herring gull on the beach (7-30-14)

 

Like the Jersey Shore, Longwood Gardens is full of photo-worthy views. In some shots, I wanted to capture the whole scene, as in this photo of a flower bed full of white flowers.

 

White flowers along a walkway at Longwood Gardens, Kennett Square, PA (8-3-14)

White flowers along a walkway at Longwood Gardens, Kennett Square, PA (8-3-14)

 

In another shot, I chose to focus on a bee on one particular white flower.

 

Bee on flower at Longwood Gardens, Kennett Square, PA (8-3-14)

Bee on flower at Longwood Gardens, Kennett Square, PA (8-3-14)

 

Beauty can be found in the close-up and in the big picture. Viewers enjoy both, as do readers. The photographer and the writer have choices to make and a balance to achieve, and practice improves both pursuits.

Are you practicing any creative activities? Does one enhance the other? How do you decide on a viewpoint?

 

Posted by: Kerry Gans | July 31, 2014

Top Picks Thursday 07-31-2014

Welcome to our end of July links round up! Hard to believe we are closing out another month already.

Erica Wagner shares the 2014 Man Booker Prize longlist.

With censorship and challenges happening so frequently, Kelly Jensen shares her thoughts on the latest case, and a list of books with censorship as a theme.

Want to be a Poet Laureate? There are more Poet Laureate jobs, but requirements vary widely.

Life influences our writing in many ways. Ethan Gilsdorf examines how Dungeons & Dragons has influenced a generation of writers.

Arielle Calderon shares things you probably didn’t know about Lois Lowry’s The Giver.

CRAFT

We talk mostly about novels here, because that’s what we write. But here are some great posts on other formats. Jodie Renner has some basic tips for writing a riveting short story, Clara Kensie tells us how to write a serial novel, Karen Woodward revists how to write a Choose Your Own Adventure story, and Kristin Hultgren has 8 tips for older adults for writing their life story.

Susan Kouguell shares how to pace a scene, Mary Buckham shows us how to write an active setting, and Corporal Allen Norton talks about terrorism information for writers.

If you’re just starting out, here are some WriteTips for beginners from Jamie Chavez, Kat Zhang lays out how to get a scene from your brain to the paper, Judith Rosen discusses the line between middle grade and YA, and Ruth Harris lets you in on the secret weapon of all successful writers—editors and editing.

Characters make the story live—and they usually narrate the story. Skye Fairwin asks: how believable is your character’s storytelling? Meanwhile, Mike Klaassen explains how to write your character’s thoughts and James Scott Bell discusses writing dialogue. K.M. Weiland delves into the art of the negative character arc, and what happens to that character in the third act.

Sometimes we get off the writing track. Amanda Patterson shares 10 simple tips to get back on the writing track, Clementine Beauvais discusses her strange cross-inspiration with writing and famous paintings, and Kory Shrum tells us how to form a writer’s critique group.

We always fear failure. Jami Gold explains the value of failure, The Magic Violinist says that failure IS an option for writers, and Jody Hedlund tells us how to justify spending lots of time writing before publication.

BUSINESS

Amazon makes news every week, it seems. Jeremy Greenfield discusses how Kindle Unlimited is changing the Kindle Bestseller lists, while The Guardian thinks that Jeff Bezos needs allies as well as ambition. James Brindle examines HarperCollins’ creation of a website for US ebooks, realizing that going alone will not break Amazon’s hold.

Editor Aubrey Poole from Sourcebooks discusses indie vs. traditional publishing, Corey Adwar shows how indie writers are now making a living, and James Robinson discusses his experience crowdfunding his book.

If you’re going traditional, you need an agent. Victoria Strauss talks about the need to update the agent-author agreements to include self-publishing. Sara Megibow tells us whether or not authors even need an agent, while Harold Underdown lists the proper way to format a manuscript. And if you need to write a cover letter for an agent or freelance work, these great artists tell us how to write a cover letter.

Victoria Strauss of WriterBeware answers many questions about the latest scams plaguing the writing world, and Helen Sedwick warns self-publishers to find out who owns your book cover.

Once your book is out there, we need to spread the word. Writer’s Relief discusses self-promotion—the key element to success many writers avoid, and Neil Patel shares 12 things you should do on Google+ right now.

THE UNIQUE SHELF

Alex Segura is giving Archie Comics’ superheroes a redesign and a new imprint.

Kathryn Schulz shows us the best punctuation marks in literature.

Kaitlin Manning talks about the sometimes rude doodling in the margins of Medieval manuscripts.

That’s it for us this week! Happy August, everyone!

 

As the Amazon-Hachette dispute drags on and continues to pummel the authors caught in the middle, some people are wondering what the alternatives might be. Even as authors seem to be dividing into increasingly strident pro-Amazon and pro-Hachette camps, Nathan Bransford reminds all of us of something that is getting lost in the heated debate: neither Amazon nor Hachette has the best interests of authors at heart.

Amazon is looking out for Amazon. Hachette is looking out for Hachette. When author needs match up with their needs, it’s all good. But when they don’t, whose interests will they save first? Businesses look out for themselves. Always.

Nathan Bransford asks: “So where is the for-authors-by-authors publishing option? How about a partnership with the indie bookselling community to create the literary culture we really want instead of hoping that huge corporations are going to come to our rescue? How about instead of picking which intermediary we like better we disintermediate and build a J.K. Rowling-esque option that truly goes directly from author to readers?”

Aside from the Pottermore structure, authors have other options: author collectives, selling directly through indie bookstores, and even selling directly to readers from their websites.

What would a for-author-by-author publishing house look like? I imagine it would be flexible. It would offer services from straight-up self-publishing to in-house services such as editing, cover art, and book design. It would have print-on-demand and ebook. The cost of the venture would be spread out over the entire customer base, so whatever cut the publishing company takes might vary depending on how many people are selling. Or it might work on a one-time set-up fee per book basis. One thing is for certain, the authors would retain as much of the price of their book as possible, as well as retaining the full rights to their work.

Issues facing the for-authors publishing house would include discovery, distribution, and fulfillment. Discovery is difficult now, and not having the reach of a multi-national platform like Amazon could be a problem. Any distribution deals made with existing distribution platforms would take another chunk out of the returns authors see. Distribution could be flexible, however. For example, Ingram Spark allows you to use their distribution channels (for a small fee) or pay no fee and distribute yourself. Fulfillment is the monster part of this, at least with print books. Either the for-author house would have to take orders and fulfill them (which would be more money out of the author’s pocket) or the author would have to take his own time to take orders and ship them. Ebook fulfillment would be easier, of course.

There will never be a scenario where an author will pocket 100% of the price of his or her book sale as clear profit. Even if the author does everything from editing to shipping himself, he will have to plow some of every sale back into keeping up his business. But a for-author-by-author publishing house may be the best way for authors to look out for themselves—just like any other business.

What do you think is the best model for authors going forward? What ideas do you have to make an author-centric publisher viable?

Posted by: Kerry Gans | July 24, 2014

Top Picks Thursday 07-24-2014

Thanks for stopping by for this week’s link round up!

The New Yorker takes a deeper look into the career of Mary Rodgers, author of Freak Friday, who died last week.

Multiple writers in Singapore pull out of National Library Board events to protest the removal of 3 children’s books from libraries.

Amy McCullough explains why children’s literary heroes need to be less white.

Here are the Bestselling Books of 2014 (so far).

CRAFT

From beginning to end, there are a lot of details writers have to handle. Janice Hardy lists 4 things to avoid on your first page, Susan Squires discusses writing sex scenes, and Mary Buckham handles writing active settings.

Jami Gold advocates building a character arc from the end backwards, Sharla Rae shows us how to write about hair, and Amanda Patterson lists 350 character traits (175 good, 175 bad) for us to flesh out our characters.

Chuck Wendig dispenses 25 ways to write a real page-turner, while Natalie Lakosil warns us to beware the dreaded revisionitis.

Have you ever thought of serializing your novel? Clara Kensie talks about the life of a serial novelist. And what about ghostwriting? Roz Morris gives us the ghostwriting FAQ, for those who are thinking they need one, or who want to become one.

The writing process can at times be frustrating, overwhelming, and futile-feeling. Molly Greene lists 15 tips to increase your productivity, C.S. Lakin shares 5 writer goals to help avoid overwhelm, and April Henry captures how the writing process really works.

Michael Cairns explores whether single-genre fiction is outdated, while Megan Elizabeth muses on the entire writing experience from writing to publishing.

We are lucky to live in an age where writing advice from experienced writers is so freely available. K.M. Weiland gives us 3 reasons NOT to write for the money; Jane Friedman shares lessons learned at the 2014 World Domination Summit; Jennifer Robson explains why dogs make fun writing partners; and Worst Muse shares some truly bad (and funny) writing advice.

BUSINESS

It seems that Amazon is holding all the cards in the Amazon-Hachette dispute, but Josh Cook discusses one card Hachette can play—DRM. Meanwhile, Douglas Preston has organized the Authors United group to try and give authors a voice in the Amazon-Hachette dust-up.

Amazon unveiled its subscription service, Kindle Unlimited. Mark Coker of Smashwords asks: is Kindle Unlimited bad for authors?

As the agency pricing trial winds down with Apple as its last defendant, the New York Times reports that Apple could pay as much as $400 million in ebook settlements.

If you are searching for a literary agent, Carly Watters lists 6 things you should NOT expect from an agent.

Nick Thacker unveils the truths about self-publishing, while writers of all stripes are starting to talk about money—and that’s a good thing.

Marketing is hard work for us authors, but it comes with the territory these days. The most confusing thing about it is that there is not just one way to success—it is a combination of factors. Rachel Thompson gives some tough love to authors, advising them to stop whining and do the work. When you get to work, Nina Amir has 6 branding tips for writers and authors, and Helen Phillips and Adam Douglas Thompson share 6 tips to make a book trailer.

If you want to get the most out of your social media platform, follow these 15 Twitter stats that can get you more retweets, and Mari Smith’s tips how to get the most organic reach out of Facebook’s algorithms.

THE UNIQUE SHELF

All of us start with an ugly first draft. Check out these poems by William Blake and Lord Byron, scribbled on manuscript pages.

Want a fast read? Here are 50 incredible novels under 200 pages.

Wow! Photos of 9 of the most fascinating abandoned mansions from around the world.

When did we start using affirmative interjections? Yes, a 1,000 years ago.

For those of you pining for the World Cup, Edd McCracken has a literary ode to the World Cup final.

That’s all for us this week!

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