Monday, February 1, 2010

Blog Review - Writer Unboxed

Blog Review - Writer Unboxed

Writer Unboxed bills itself as "about the craft and business of genre fiction". I'm not sure exactly what "genre fiction" is, unless it means fiction that can be enjoyed by readers who may not be writers, don't have an MFA degree, and need not live in New York City. :)

But seriously, although the site is billed as focusing on "genre fiction" , I really believe any aspiring writer and many working writers, in whatever area of fiction, will find something of value here.

In their January 2006 Welcome statement they say

Our goal is to offer writers of genre fiction a little inspiration to help get ideas flowing again. (We could’ve called the blog, “Writer Unconstipated,” but the imagery wouldn’t have been nearly so appealing.) We’ll get things flowing for you by blogging about technique, but we’re not restricting ourselves to the world of literature; you’ll be hearing about art, music, movies…wherever we think there’s a nugget of writerly gold to steal, we’ll tell you about it.

Now I'll start out with a very minor gripe about this excellent blog. No "About Us" link. I had to hunt down the welcome post by backtracking to the beginning of the archives. Can we show blog reviewers some love? :)

I found the blog a few months back when I became an aspiring YA novelist. I immediately subscribed.

It's been a bit tricky to pin down exactly why I like this blog - but I think it comes down to a fresh, open and undogmatic attitude. So often I see writer advice sites or blogs that deliver mass quantities of hard-line attitude along with the advice. There seems to be a "this way is best" that pops up all too often. This is rarely seen on Writer Unboxed. The mood there is one of suggestions and things to try. It's a blog that makes writing seem more like fun than work.

The blog theme for January has been "voice", and it's hard to imagine that voice can be looked at from so many different angles. I won't even try to summarize - in the words of the old song might as well "try to catch the wind". You'll just have to check it out.

The blog is multi-author, and as far as can tell all of the contributors are publlished authors.

The list:

Kathleen Bolton
Therese Walsh
Allison Winn Scotch
Ann Aguirre
Anna Elliott
Barbara Samuel
Donald Maass
Jane Friedman
J.C. Hutchin
Juliet Marillier
Ray Rhamey
Sophie Masson

The links column is much too long to copy here, but here are some stats. Writer Unboxed has conducted over 80 interviews with authors, and lists over 30 "industry" interviews with knowledgeable insiders on a wide variety of topics. There are oover 70 blog links listed, and almost 40 links in the "box cutters" section of writer resource sites.

I will reproduce the "Tag list"at the end of this post. It's not too long, and gives a good summary of the kind of things that are covered. The HTML makes the presentation unwieldly - my apologies)

A couple of special mentions go out to individual contributors. Ray Rhamey, totally deserves recognition for his new novel "The Vampire Kitty-cat Chronicles". Ray's attempts to find a niche for the book are chronicled in a blog post from November 2009.

From the excerpts I've read so far, the book is adorable and fun - and I speak as a person who doesn't usually read either vampire or cat fiction :)

As Ray recounts in the post I linked to, he finally decided to self-publish. This is in the sense of do-it-yourself (DIY) publishing with the production elements outsourced, which is distinct from the subsidy/vanity publishers who sometimes refer to their own (quite different) business model as "self-publishing".

I suspect that it was the frustration of finding his work "unpublishable" by traditional standards - simply because it had no definable "niche" that led Ray to create the Platypus Fiction imprint of his FTQ micropress.

As he descrines it

The platypus breaks all the rules—it’s the only mammal that lays eggs, is venomous, has a duck bill, a beaver tail, and otter feet—and it does just fine, thank you.

Platypus publishes novels that take readers on unique paths to entertainment, truth, and most enjoyable reads.

And there's Writer's Digest's Jane Friedman. I'm tempted to say the ubiquitous Jane Friedman :). When I decided on Writer Unboxed as my latest review target, I had no idea Jane was a contributor. As fate would have it, I reviewed Jane's own blog "There Are No rules" last week. Jane, you are a busy lady, and you're doing excellent work for the community. Keep it up!


APPENDIX: The Writer Unboxed Tag List


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