I’m not going to lie, it’s tough to post today and what’s happening is bigger than books. My heart is utterly breaking about what’s happening in this country. The police and vigilante mobs are murdering Black people in broad daylight and arresting journalists. 100,000+ COVID deaths and counting, by far the most in the world, and a toll that has fallen disproportionately on the most vulnerable, at the hands of a completely indifferent (at best) federal government. Untold economic devastation and a government response that only exacerbates existing inequalities.
I really struggle about what to do about it. It’s not a question, I know all the things you’re supposed to do. I try, but I fail every day at them and I need to do better. It also just never feels like enough. Sometimes it feels like the best we can do is tamp down the evil for a time, but it always comes roaring back and right now it feels like evil is winning.
All I really know what to do is to write, and I would tell someone else that matters and that is a real thing, so I guess I have to tell myself that too.
But my heart goes out today to George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and the other martyrs too tragically numerous to even name who died because of the colossal failure of all of us who tolerate, sustain, and benefit from a system that failed to protect them.
My heart goes out to all of the people whose lives were cut short by COVID and everyone still with us who has been touched by tragedy in 2020.
And if you think this post is political? Take another look at it and ask yourself some questions about why exactly you feel that way.
Anyway. I know you come here for the #books content and I do want to provide distractions for people during a heavy time because we all need some escapes from time to time too, so let’s get to the links.
You’re in luck because the Bronx Book Festival is virtual this year, which means you can participate wherever you are. Look at this incredible lineup! Panels like “Black Enough: Celebrating Black Voices” featuring Brandy Colbert, Camryn Garrett, Leah Johnson, and Ibi Zoboi. Sign up.
Longtime editing superstar Jonathan Karp is ascending to CEO of Simon & Schuster, succeeding Carolyn Reidy, who passed away earlier this month.
If you had wolf erotica, fan fiction, and copyright law on your publishing bingo card… well, you’re in luck.
J.K. Rowling is serializing a new novel called The Ickabog online, which you can access for free.
Thinking of writing nonfiction for kids? Tim Grove has some great advice.
LitHub released its summer 2020 book preview.
And finally, I really enjoyed this post from agent Danielle Burby about dialing your writing into that thing that makes you special.
This week in bestsellers
Here are the top five NY Times bestsellers in a few key categories. (All links are affiliate links):
Adult print and e-book fiction:
- Camino Winds by John Grisham
- Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
- Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
- Normal People by Sally Rooney
- Big Summer by Jennifer Weiner
Adult print and e-book nonfiction:
- Untamed by Glennon Doyle
- Becoming by Michelle Obama
- Plague of Corruption by Judy Mikovits and Kent Heckenlively
- The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson
- The Great Influenza by John M. Barry
Young adult hardcover:
- One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus
- Chain of Gold by Cassandra Clare
- Stamped by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi
- The Betrothed by Kiera Cass
- Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo
Middle grade hardcover:
- The One and Only Bob by Katherine Applegate
- The Complete Cookbook for Young Chefs by America’s Test Kitchen Kids
- Wonder by R.J Palacio
- The Complete Baking Book for Young Chefs by America’s Test Kitchen Kids
- Diary of an Awesome Friendly Kid by Jeff Kinney
This week on the blog
Don’t forget that you can nominate your first page and query for a free critique on the blog:
In case you missed them, here are this week’s posts:
And keep up with the discussion in all the places!
Comment! of! the! week! goes to Lexi Bruce, for a comment on an older post on how writing changes the world.
My first published novel was a hi-lo YA verse novel about a 16 year old girl watching her parents’ relationship fall apart. The first draft was very semi-autobiographical. I got a lot of pain out on the page that I didn’t realize I was still feeling. Then my editor gave me some feedback, which made me realize things about myself that I never noticed. A few drafts later, the story was much less autobiographical (I had to add a lot of tension in ways that it wasn’t there irl), and I had discovered things and started to heal wounds I hadn’t realized I had. While the story itself in the final draft is nothing like the story of my life at 16, the emotions are where it continues being semi-autobiographical.
I also realized that my previous fiction writing attempts hadn’t turned out well because I wasn’t being emotionally honest with myself.
And finally, um, I may have made a TikTok…
Have a safe weekend and let’s keep fighting for a better world.
Need help with your book? I’m available for manuscript edits, query critiques, and coaching!
For my best advice, check out my guide to writing a novel and my guide to publishing a book.
And if you like this post: subscribe to my newsletter!
Art: Downtown Brooklyn in the fog. Photo by me. Follow me on Instagram!