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Jane Friedman's Electric Speed newsletter

In this issue

A note from Jane

Next week, I’ll be participating in a virtual spelling bee to support a local nonprofit. (That means you can watch me compete.) As part of the fun, the organizers asked me to reveal a word I have difficulty spelling—or a funny anecdote about a word that has plagued me.

My mind immediately went to “cupcake.” When I was four or five years old, I could only pronounce it as “pupcake.” My parents were perhaps overly concerned and sent me to a speech therapist, where I played countless rounds of Candyland, was given a bowl of M&Ms, and periodically asked to say “cupcake.” I can’t recall how long this went on, but long enough for me to remember today what the therapist’s office looked like—lots of wood paneling. (These days, such a mispronunciation would likely be fodder for a great viral video, then parents would be sad when their kid learns to correct themselves.)

My mispronunciations did not end there. I’ve experienced countless embarrassing moments as an adult, where I’m still discovering words that I don’t pronounce correctly—although such mistakes aren’t as cute now. Rather I just appear (and feel) uneducated.

Somehow, my husband knows how to pronounce everything perfectly and always corrects me, but of course not condescendingly—only to save me future potential embarrassment.

I saw a quote on social media recently, “Never make fun of someone if they mispronounce a word. It means they learned it by reading.”

I take some comfort in that.

Have a great weekend,

P.S. The most popular blog post at my site this month:
2 Methods for Structuring Your Memoir

P.P.S. There is more to this newsletter—keep scrolling!
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Jane’s Electric Speed List: The AI issue

Here are some of the latest things I’ve discovered, all on the theme of artificial intelligence. (I have not been paid to mention any of these resources.)

Get book recommendations powered by AI

The creators of this tool were inspired by what Penguin Random House does on Twitter: every once in a while, the publisher spends 30 minutes giving book recommendations based on mood.

Using GPT-3 technology, the site Most Recommended Books now offers a book recommendation engine that can do the same on command. When I asked for a book about humorous situations, I was oddly suggested The Princess and The Pony, a picture book. Well, it does look humorous.

Shortly: an AI writing assistant

Again, the basis of this tool is OpenAI’s GPT-3. After setting up an account (free), you can input a sentence or two, click a button, and the AI will continue writing your story. Perhaps an alternative to staring at the wall or out the window when you experience writer’s block? Try Shortly.

Extract vocal and instrumental tracks from audio using AI

If this tool had been around in high school, I would’ve had all kinds of personal fun with Upload any audio file and split up the vocal and instrumental tracks without quality loss. It’s $10 for 90 minutes or 10 tracks. (Keep your use legal, folks.)

How normal are you?

This is an EU-based project that allows you to experience how artificial intelligence judges your face. Access to your webcam or mobile camera is necessary, but no personal data is collected. You might not anticipate where this leads! Try it.

Nail Your Memoir Structure By Thinking Like a Novelist with Allison K Williams. $25 class. Wednesday, October 21, 2020. 1 p.m. to 2:15 p.m. Eastern.

Next online class: Nail Your Memoir Structure By Thinking Like a Novelist with Allison K Williams

On Wednesday, Oct. 21: Where should your memoir begin? How should it end? What’s an “inciting incident” or a “climax” when you’re looking at your life? In this class, you’ll learn how to structure a memoir to engage readers, agents and publishers. We’ll cover where to start, and how to decide what events belong in your book. Suitable for those with an idea, a draft, or a terrifying pile of raw material, you’ll discover how to tell the right story about the story you need to tell.
Learn more and register

Your turn: Favorite newsletters, Part 1

In the last issue, I asked you to share your favorite email newsletters. The response was so overwhelming that I’m parceling out your suggestions over a few issues. In this first batch, I’m sharing newsletters you recommend that I also subscribe to.
  • Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings is a gem and probably one of my favorites. —Maureen C. Berry
  • For short and sweet and weekly, there is James Clear’s newsletter which always includes something quotable. —Carol Michel, also recommended by Lynn Baber and Dana Kaye
  • I love Paul Jarvis’s newsletter, for biz-related thoughts. —Nancy Cavillones
  • Anne Helen Petersen’s newsletter has become an integral part of my week. Her writing always grabs me and holds my attention and she includes links to articles that broaden my understanding of the world. —Susan Lerner
  • I love We Grow Media’s newsletter. Practical advice about getting things done, honing your audience, and more useful information for writers and creators. It’s the newsletter I find myself forwarding to friends. —Rachel Kempster Barry
  • Hope Clark’s Funds for Writers newsletter is awesome. One of the handful that I always read. —Brenda Spielman
  • Unslush published by Iain Broome. I have difficulty in deleting them, even though I aspire to Inbox Zero. Every writer will gain from the information therein, but it’s the wry humor that really puts the cherry on the cake. —Cheryl Flinn
  • I really enjoy Joanna Penn’s newsletter, Welcome to The Creative Penn —Hollie
  • I enjoy Lit Hub Weekly. I enjoy the interesting author interviews and check out many new book recommendations. —Cathryn Hasek
  • I enjoy David Moldawer’s weekly Maven Game essay because it takes an almost philosophical approach to writing and creativity. It often reminds me of why I started writing in the first place. —Nancy Herkness
  • Every Friday, Austin Kleon sends links to ten things. He chugs along like a furnace, never letting up on the heat, and I like his reliability. —Mithra Ballesteros, also recommended by Alonna Shaw

Upcoming online classes

✏️ October 21: Nail Your Memoir Structure By Thinking Like a Novelist with Allison K Williams

📖 October 25: The Foundations of Getting Published with Jane Friedman

💡 November 5: Will Your Nonfiction Book Sell? with Jane Friedman

👑 January 13: Query Letter Master Class with Critique with Jane Friedman

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Electric Speed is a free newsletter by Jane Friedman that launched in 2009. More than 34,000 subscribers receive it. You can support it by (1) sponsoring an issue or (2) sharing it with friends and colleagues.
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