In the nineties, when Jack Livings was teaching English in China, he was gathering material for The Dog, his short story collection that recently won the PEN/Robert W. Bingham prize. In an interview in the WSJ, he talks about his research process, Chinese idioms and Uighur-Han relations. You could also read Casey Walker’s syllabus for modern China. (h/t The Rumpus)
Regardless of your Valentine's Day plans, do not take advice from Nate Piven, the protagonist of Adelle Waldman's The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. Ron Charles asked Waldman to write another scene of Nate's romantic saga. "He decided it would be best to hedge his bets by getting her something 'ironic.'"
Freedom the program might not actually be so freeing: "It has been argued that a chronic fever of distraction and fascination arrives on waves of Wi-Fi to stunt our attention spans, encouraging writers to paddle about, tweeting and liking, instead of striking out for deeper waters..." But maybe writers need distraction, after all. (Then again: a detox might do you good.)