Friday, December 12, 2014

Did Agriculture Domesticate Humans?

Dr. Yuval Noah Harari is making waves with his revolutionary approach to the history of humankind. In his upcoming book Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, Dr. Harari goes in depth to discuss some of his most provocative statements about humanity and its dominance. In this month's video Dr. Harari declares that agriculture domesticated humans and not the other way around.

See a brief teaser for Sapiens (on sale 2/10) below!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Preparing for Life After NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo Day 19: You're over 30,000 words! Take a moment to just bask in the glow of your awesomeness. Okay, moments over. Let's get back to work!

I regret to inform you that for the final eleven days I will only be checking in with you periodically. Even though I won't be hanging over your shoulder, know that I am always watching...

While I'm gone, I trust that you will be writing like madmen and women to finish your projects! I envision you sitting at your computer (or notebook, or typewriter, or slab of marble and chisel). You've finished your story, filled in your chart (and remembered to tweet us a picture) and you think, "What now?" The answer: it's time to edit!

For my final blog of National Novel Writing Month I present to you, Self-Editing for Fiction Writers. The title is pretty self explanatory, but unlike most of the books you'll find on revising your work, Self-Editing for Fiction Writers has cartoons! Don't believe me? See for yourself.

With chapters on dialogue, point of view, voice, and other critical techniques, Self-Editing for Fiction Writers will take you through the same process an expert editor would and help you take your manuscript from rough to polished.

Go forth NaNoWriMo-ers, finish your projects and get a copy of Self-Editing for Fiction Writers here!

Don't forget to track your progress on our chart. Tweet us at @HarperAcademic (by 12/1) when you've hit 50,000 words for your chance to win a HarperCollins bundle of books!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

How to Read Like a Writer

Long before there were creative-writing workshops and degrees, how did aspiring writers learn to write? By reading!! This simple concept is the basis for Francine Prose's Reading Like a Writer.

A prolific writer, Francine Prose is the author of seventeen (Yes that's seventeen!) works of fiction. In Reading Like a Writer, Prose takes book lovers and writers alike on a journey through major works of literature. Along the way, she will teach you how to read carefully, and pay attention to the tools and tricks that turn novels into enduring classics.

Do you want to: create brilliant characters, craft amazing dialogue, and inspire your readers? Then you NEED this helpful guide!

There is no more fundamental rule for being a great writer, you MUST read. I mean, Stephen King says you should read 70-80 books a year. (That's just 1.5 a week! Easy, right?) And if Stephen King and Francine Prose, who have collectively written almost a hundred books, have time to do it, so do you! 

Let Francine Prose's passion and wisdom inspire you to master the art of Reading Like a Writer. Get it here!

Don't forget to track your progress on our chart. Tweet us at @HarperAcademic (by 12/1) when you've hit 50,000 words for your chance to win a HarperCollins bundle of books!

Monday, November 17, 2014

The Difficulties of THE WRITING LIFE

NaNoWriMo Day 17: This weekend was big for you NaNoWriMo-ers, you've surpassed the halfway mark!! Can you believe it? You're just a couple more weeks from victory! On the other hand, you might be thinking. "I've been writing for weeks, how am I only half way?!" Well, if you're in need of some advice and a helpful dose of empathy, it's time to pick up a copy of The Writing Life by Annie Dillard. 

Annie Dillard has written eleven books and understands the struggle that comes with being a writer. In The Writing Life, she discusses the difficult and yet wonderful existence of a writer's life. With stories from her own writing and experiences, she imparts a wealth of wisdom for other writers. Here's how she starts out:

"When you write, you lay out a line of words. The line of words is a miner's pick, a woodcarver's gouge, a surgeon's probe. you wield it, and it digs a path you follow. Soon you find yourself deep in new territory. Is it a dead end, or have you just located the real subject? You will know tomorrow...."

The Writing Life, is small but mighty (At just over 100pages, you can make time for it!) and with Dillard's advice on commitment and passion, it will give you the push you need to finish your project.

Get your copy here!

Don't forget to track your progress on our chart. Tweet us at @HarperAcademic (by 12/1) when you've hit 50,000 words for your chance to win a HarperCollins bundle of books!

Friday, November 14, 2014

The Art of the Novel

NaNoWriMo Day 14: If you're keeping on track you should have already hit your 21,000-word mark! You've probably also lost a lot of sleep (and maybe even a little bit of your grip on reality), so it's the perfect time to get philosophical about your work.

I present to you Milan Kundera's The Art of the Novel. In this piece of literary criticism, Kundera examines the evolution, construction, and essence of the novel as an art form through the lens of his own work and through the work of other important and diverse literary figures.

You want to be an "important and diverse literary figure" right? Then get your copy of The Art of the Novel here and get back to work!

Don't forget to track your progress on our chart. Tweet us at @HarperAcademic (by 12/1) when you've hit 50,000 words for your chance to win a HarperCollins bundle of books!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Master the Art of Writing Well

NaNoWriMo Day 13: Okay, so now that you can write an exceptional sentence and plot with the best of Hollywood, it's time to dig in with William Zinsser's On Writing Well. Don't you want to learn how to write well? Of course you do! So get the book here!

Just in case you don't want to just take my word for it (which is only mildly offensive), here are the top five reasons you NEED this valuable resource.

      1. It's based on a course Zinsser taught at Yale. And let's face it, it's far more affordable than attending Yale. 
      2. The fundamentals in On Writing Well have been helping authors for over thirty years!
      3. Why wouldn't you take writing advice from a man who's written over fifteen books! (I know, right? He's making the rest of us look bad.)
      4. This classic guide on writing nonfiction will prepare you to write on just about any topic. Zinsser himself wrote books on topics ranging from jazz to baseball.
      5. On Writing Well has sold over a million copies. That means over a million writers are already one step ahead of you, what are you waiting for?! Get it here!

Don't forget to track your progress on our chart. Tweet us at @HarperAcademic (by 12/1) when you've hit 50,000 words for your chance to win a HarperCollins bundle of books!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Storytelling Master is Here to Help

NaNoWriMo Day 11: Now that Stanley Fish has given you the key to conquering sentences, let's talk about the next step in the process, the story. And no one knows story better than Robert McKee. I know what you're thinkg, "Robert McKee is a screenwriting expert. Can he even help me with my novel?" The answer, oh grasshopper, is YES! "How can this be?" You may ask, to which I reply, "Quit asking questions, I'm getting there."

Screenplays are the skeleton structure on which film narratives take shape, they include only the bare bones of the story (plot points, dialogue, and a few descriptions). So, if you can master the structure of your story in terms of a screenplay narrative, you're well on your way to writing a super detailed novel outline. 

In Robert McKee's seminars (an industry must) he provides attendees with the most comprehensive explanation of the craft of writing for the screen. One of the main principles of writing for the screen is "show, don't tell." In a script there are no helpful internal monologues or full paragraphs of explanation to help readers (or audiences) understand your characters, you are forced to rely on the visual; a skill that will take your novel writing to the next level.

If you can't hop on a plane right now and fly to the current Story Seminar, then boy do I have news for you. You can get a copy of Story right here!

This film industry staple will help you learn the ins-and-outs of story construction, style, and the relationship between structure and character that are essential for writing a great narrative. Mastering the craft of great storytelling will transform your work. As McKee puts it "Anxious, inexperienced writers obey the rules. Rebellious, unschooled writers break the rules. Artists master the form."

Now get out there and master the form!

Get your copy of Story here and don't forget to track your progress on our chart. Tweet us at @HarperAcademic (by 12/1) when you've hit 50,000 words for your chance to win a HarperCollins bundle of books!