Lilith Saintcrow want's you all to know, that a good book ain't all you need. Truer words could not be said. Fortune favors the prepared and be professional. Of course, you still have to have a good story, that goes without saying. But if that's all you've got, and especially if you screw up the first three bullet points she makes, it won't go anywhere. (grokked from Jay Lake's link salad)
Speaking of Jay Lake, he discusses telling stories with character. This is one of the reasons writers go to convensions and hang our with other writers. We know this works, and we know other people not involved with writing think we're crazy when we discuss it. The first time it happens most writers don't know it. The story just dies on the page for them and they drop it and move on. And for those writers who obstantly claim they've never had the experience, look deep in their eyes as they say it. Notice that twitch, the twinge of the iris dialating? That's the ghosts of characters past laughing.
Jim Hines talks about series vs. standalone novels and gives some data to back up his assertions. My own personal preference these days is for the continuing stories where the individual novels can stand alone instead of the "you have to read the first five 600+ page books to get what's going on in this one" kind of series.
Jeff "nice-stash" VanderMeer wants you to know about the Brain Harvest flash fiction contest. Oo, and you get to use one of those plot lines that all the other editors have cried, "Enough! If one of youse guys sends us anotherin' of these we're going to get all Meggedo on your asses." Oh, and Jeff's the referree, I mean, uh, judge, yeah, that's the one. (although they are charging a reading fee)
Joshua Palmatier blogs about a recent editorial discussion. He shares a lot of the conversation and for new authors who think they're "speshel" (ala Lilith Saintcrows post) it might be an eye opener. Josh has a number of good, solid books behind him. He's an excellent author, and some of the changes they talked about will require another rerun through the manuscriptand writing additional material. Notice that the "you comma spliced here" comments get short shrift, because they aren't too many at this point. This is after he thought the novel was good enough to send out, and good enough to be purchased (IIRC). Writing is about the rewriting.
And because all the cool kids are linking to it, the when do you ever stop whoring yourself post by Larry Nolen. Well, as a creative professional, and I pretty much say it never ends, Larry. It's just the price and the services offered that change. Matt Stagg pretty much sums it up.
One of the things discussed off hand at the Hastings Point Writers Workshop was the dearth of writing advice lately. I had to agree with that. It's still out there, but there aren't the droves of posts going over these things like there used to be. I count myself lucky I was paying attention when they were thick as theives. Maybe it's our turn to spill out what we've learned? I don't think so. The others, when they spilled, were much further along the path than where I'm at. Even Tobias Buckell's excellent "Getting Past Being Joe Blow Neopro" was written at a stage I haven't accieved yet. But when I can share, I try my best to. I owe all those others who went before me and who are helping me now. I owe them a lot.