[Electric Speed] Comp title discovery | E-sign docs for free

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Electric Speed from Jane Friedman
A note from Jane

One of my best Christmas experiences happened when I asked myself the question, "How can happiness be an option, right now?"

I was wrapping up a two-week stay with my 80-year-old mom, helping her recover from a broken arm. And my husband, Mark, was staying with his mom several hours away, helping her through a challenging time as well.

Christmas was approaching fast, but we couldn’t come to an agreement on how to spend the holidays. I didn’t want to stay on with my mom (and she was ready for her privacy back), nor did I want to get involved in Mark’s situation. But I couldn’t convince him to return home to spend Christmas with me.

Did I really prefer to sit at home alone, stewing? How could happiness be an option?

I thought of my friend Martha—a person I adored but saw little of. I took a leap of faith and emailed her a couple days before Christmas. Did she have plans? And could I join them? I knew that such boldness would either be appreciated or forgiven by her.

Few moments in my life have been as joyful as when she immediately called me with enthusiasm. I stayed with her and her husband at home and participated in their traditions: beef stew on Christmas Eve, followed by Scrooge: The Musical, then a visit to a Chinese buffet on Christmas Day.

Martha passed last year, and I am so glad I had the courage to ask for her love at a vulnerable moment. My favorite way to remember her now is to visit a Chinese buffet on Christmas Day.
Jane

P.S. Most popular blog post this month: What I Learned from 90 Queries

Cartoon by Bob Eckstein. An illustration of a a snowy field at Christmastime with a lit-up Chinese Buffet
Bob Eckstein
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Jane’s Electric Speed List
Here are some of the latest things I’ve discovered. (I am not paid to mention any of these resources; there are no affiliate links.)
A tool to discover new authors or comparable titles
Years ago, I often recommended a tool known as Yasiv to help authors identify comparable titles for marketing purposes. Unfortunately, that tool stopped working due to changes at Amazon. Now, I’ve learned about a potential replacement that doesn’t use Amazon for its suggestions. It’s called Literature Map. H/t Monica Leonelle
The largest AI tools directory: Futurepedia
Want to stay on top of existing and new AI-based tools? Go here. Great search function.
Fast & easy tool to get an e-sign on documents
Sign Free is just that: a free, lightweight service to get e-signatures on documents. There is a premium plan, but if you need to get documents signed only on rare occasions, bookmark this for later use.
More ways to research the weather of the past
In the last issue, I mentioned Wunderground as a way of identifying the weather on any day going back to 1930. In response, I received additional suggestions. In particular, David Shapiro notes, "If you wanted to select the coldest day a character had seen in [their] area, or the wettest, etc, then NOAA’s your friend. The site will let you drill down to a local recording station, and you can select any year range they were in business." —David Shapiro
 
How to Get Published: Land a Book Deal in 2023 with Jane Friedman. $99 webinar hosted by Writers Digest University. Thursday, January 5, 2023. 1 to 3 p.m. Eastern.
NEXT ONLINE CLASS
Jan. 5: Get Published: Land a Book Deal in 2023
In partnership with Writer’s Digest: This intensive and information-filled 120-minute live webinar helps you think like an industry insider who makes decisions every day on what work merits print publication. You’ll get practical advice and tools to help you develop strong pitch letters and proposal materials for both fiction and nonfiction—plus back-door methods for networking with agents and editors. Don’t embark on the submission process in 2023 without being fully educated about how the industry works, taught by Jane Friedman.
Your turn: Best book or article of 2022
In the last issue, I asked you to tell me about best book or article you read in 2022. Here’s a selection of what you said:

  • World Made of Glass by Ami Polonsky [releases in mid-January 2023]: Middle-grade historical fiction set in the late 1980s AIDS crisis. The story and characters, the writing, and the format are profoundly compelling and equally heart-wrenching and heart-healing for preteens, teens, and parents/grandparents. —Carol Coven Grannick
  • The Grieving Brain by Mary-Frances O’Connor. I’ve read many books on the psychological aspect of grief, but this one explains what actually happens in our brains when we grieve. It’s fascinating, but maybe not for the newly bereaved. —Lynn Haraldson
  • Cured: Strengthen Your Immune System and Heal Your Life by Jeffrey Rediger M.D., a professor at Harvard Medical School. This book follows a number of documented cases where people were able to heal themselves of a variety of conditions. Really fascinating. —Maureen O’Connor Saringer
  • I discovered Mary Oliver through her final collection Devotions this year. It’s been quieting and centering in a season of grief and intense introspection. —Lana Wildman
  • I just got done with my look at the year-end business book lists for 2022. Four out of five lists picked Stolen Focus by Johann Hari, the highest title of the year. I also read it this week and thought it was pretty good. Fits with a societal theme we are all working with. —Todd Sattersten
  • The Ninth Metal by Benjamin Percy. Genre blasting literary sci-fi with characters that are fleshed out like a plucked chicken. —Sharon Wagner
  • Stephanie Foo’s What My Bones Know: A Memoir of Healing from Complex Trauma. I listened to the audiobook and then read the hard copy and have probably listened to every podcast interviewing her and Dr. Jacob Ham (her therapist). It’s so well written, vulnerable, and darkly funny. —Danielle MetcalfeChenail
  • Everything Abridged by Dennard Dayle. It’s a collection of satirical, darkly hilarious short stories. —Amran Gowani
  • Peace Like a River by Leif Enger. It has good narrative drive and pacing and, best of all, unique, believable—flawed, but likable—characters. —Susan Soesbe
  • Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals by Oliver Burkeman. As an author facing an always-infinite list of things to do, this book is invaluable. It’s not about doing more, in fact, but about focusing on the important things in life. I gave it to both of my adult children, and am sending it to a few other people over the holidays. —Anne Janzer

Next question: What magazine (any format) do you subscribe to that more people should know about? Hit reply to this email and let me know, or discuss over on Discord.
 
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"At electric speed, all forms are pushed to the limits of their potential."
—Marshall McLuhan
Jane Friedman
Created by Jane Friedman
I report on the publishing industry and help authors understand the business of writing.

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I tested several new cookie recipes this holiday season. This one is the best.
 
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