Posted by: Kerry Gans | May 25, 2017

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 05-25-2017

Welcome to the last Top Picks Thursday of May! We hope everyone enjoys the Memorial Day weekend. Have fun, stay safe, and remember the men and women who died to protect our freedoms and our country.

Author Jean Fritz, who wrote history books for children, died at 101 this week.

Lee Wind has the SCBWI 2017 Crystal Kite Award winners!

Wendy Sparrow explores the importance of “own voices” in diversity, Sheba Karim discusses belonging as a Muslim YA author at a Tennessee book festival, and Harlem playwright Shaun Neblett honors the works of Malcolm X and Lorraine Hansberry at the I,Too Art Collective.

Scholastic research shows that more ebooks and independent reading time are needed in U.S. schools. Suggested reads could be this graphic novel about managing friendships, or these books recommended by indie booksellers.

Laura Brown discusses the nuances of writing American Sign Language in a story. How do you write a visual language?

The Brooklyn Public Library starts a trend: drag queens as public libraries’ newest storytellers.

Publishing is an evolving business. Kathryn Craft examines a publishing decade in review, while Jane Friedman looks at key publishing paths in 2017.

CRAFT

Classic literature is classic for a reason. Gloria Steinem calls The Handmaid’s Tale “a rare book, and the only novel I know, that portrays reproductive freedom as the basis of everything else.” and Langston Hughes still reigns as a poet for the unchampioned.

Kathryn Craft examines warning flags when writing about true events.

Writers can learn craft from many sources. Andrea Jury discusses what tabletop gaming taught her about storytelling.

Your book needs to take place somewhere, so why not make the setting memorable? Michaela Whatnall explores fantastic settings and how to write them.

Writers want readers to love their protagonist, but what about the antagonist? Jordan Dane explains how showing your baddie R-E-S-P-E-C-T can make them memorable. Your other characters need to carry their weight, too. K.M. Weiland shows how to take advantage of your 4 most important characters, Jonathan Vars shares 3 more lesser known archetypes, Bonnie Randall discusses character minutiae and seemingly irrelevant details.

When the book is done, it needs editing to make it well done. Blake Atwood describes what it’s actually like to work with a book editor, Stephane Dees investigates whether long-term critique partnerships are myth or magic, Jerry Jenkins tells how to become a demanding self-editor, P.J. Parrish examines how to get out of rewrite hell alive, and Colin Dickey discusses the fraught and often invisible work of editors.

Want to be more efficient? Nicole Dieker says forget your endless to-do list and try time blocking instead.

William Kenower examines a writer’s worst fear, and Hannah Ross discusses your daily writing pleasure.

Do you love writing in coffee shops? Sarah Degeorge gives 4 guilt-free reasons to love coffee shops.

We all have them—“practice” novels tucked in drawers or on hard drives. It would be so easy to publish them these days… But Anne R. Allen gives 10 reasons NOT to publish your practice novels.

BUSINESS

If you freelance or are an indie author, you may be wondering what the best business entity for your taxes is. Jonathan Medows explains sole proprietorships, LLCs, and S-corps, and the pros and cons of each.

David Barnett looks at the new Amazon Charts, to see what it means for the book industry.

Rachel Deahl asks: is mass market dying or just evolving—again?

If you need cash for your book project, Nicholas Forristal tells us how to set up your book’s Kickstarter campaign.

Jami Gold shares some self-publishing resources for fun and profit.

If you are formatting your own book (or marketing materials), Joel Friedlander warns us to look out for these elements of bad typography.

Bill Ferris has 8 great traits of great book titles.

Sending queries is part science, part art. Tamela Hancock Murray tells how to make her jump off the fence, Steve Laube talks typos, Dan Balow examines test marketing books, and Jane Friedman wonders how much you should personalize a query letter. Agent Brooks Sherman will join Janklow & Nesbit as a literary agent on May 23, continuing to represent fiction for young adult and middle-grade readers, picture books, select literary and commercial adult fiction, and nonfiction in the areas of humor, pop culture, and narrative nonfiction.

Marketing your books can be difficult. Kate Sullivan shows us how to do smart Goodreads marketing, Paul Teague discusses email marketing for authors, Carolyn Howard Johnson has 15 book publicity commandments, and Chris Sim examines how keywords impact sales.

Ali Luke investigates how to blog consistently when you have very little time, and Chuck Wendig serves up a hot steaming stack of business advice for writers.

THE UNIQUE SHELF

One of my favorite books: learn the true story behind Mrs. Basil E. Frankeiler and her mixed-up files.

Are we dating ourselves? The Librarian of Congress (Carla Hayden)weighs in on why card catalogs matter.

Matt Zoller Seitz explores how TV’s best shows are taking their cues from literature.

William Friedkin walks what remains of Marcel Proust’s Paris, from his former apartment building to the lycée where he wrote his earliest stories.

Lidia Yuknavitch reviews Neil Gaiman’s audiobook of Norse Mythology.

Surprise! The Icelandic translation of Dracula is actually a different book.

Lest you think authors only have adventures in their heads: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle went on his own adventures—to the Arctic.

Literary women examined: an online exhibit of Charlotte Bronte letters and fantasy, an exploration of Dorothy Wordsworth—writer, sister, and amanuensis; and six portraits that deepen the mystery of Jane Austen.

Ever wonder what it would have been like if Jane Eyre had email?

Discover why a modern cosmetics company is mining Armenia’s ancient manuscripts.

Jessica Bakkers brings us a thorough comparison of US vs. UK English.

Beware the dangers of reading in bed!

That’s all for this week’s Top Picks Thursday! See you in June!

Posted by: Nancy Keim Comley | May 23, 2017

Change Up

It’s 5:20 am and outside my window a light fog is giving way to the dawn. I have a big mug of tea and a glass of water and I’m writing. This is my new normal and, though I am slightly sleep-deprived, this is a time I look forward to every morning.

I used to write while my youngest child napped. Since he napped at the same time everyday for about two hours I had a solid chunk of time. As he got older he stopped napping so I would try and find the time to write around my other tasks. It was a mishmash system and meant I mostly wrote at night after the children were in bed. This is a terrible idea and led to a lot if scenes that sounded like: “And then stuff happened. It was cool and maybe spiderzzzzzzzzzz.”

Last year a writer friend told me about the Highlights Foundation where she occasionally goes away for a weekend’s ‘Unworkshop’. She has a comfortable cabin, three delicious meals a day, lots of walking trails and the quiet to work. It sounded perfect so last Christmas the only thing I asked for was a weekend’s Unworkshop.

Before I went away the same friend mentioned that she had taken an online course from Udmy by the author Jessica Brody called Productivity Hacks For Writers and found it very helpful in focusing her in her work. I was determined to get as much out of my weekend away so at my friends suggestion I downloaded the course to my phone (it’s a video but listening to it is fine) and listened to it during the two and a half hour drive up to Highlights.

Jessica Brody gives good, helpful advice and I arrived at Highlights ready to work. It was a fantastic weekend; I was up every morning at 6 and working by 6:20 (after a brief walk and acquiring a cup of strong tea). I would work until I began to feel as one with my chair or it was time for a meal. I got everything accomplished that I hoped to get finished and brought home the habit of rising early and the enthusiasm to keep me getting up at 5am.

Now it’s 6:20 am and I can hear my family beginning to stir. Soon they will be down and it will be time for me to start the day’s tasks. It’s easier for me now because instead of trying to find the time to write I have written. Everything else is gravy.

Posted by: Kerry Gans | May 18, 2017

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 05-18-2017

Posted by: J. Thomas Ross | May 16, 2017

Inspiration: Celebrate Nature! Celebrate Life!

Those who find beauty in all of nature will find themselves at one with the secrets of life itself.
– L. Wolfe Gilbert (songwriter)

pink dogwood, The Author Chronicles, J. Thomas. Ross, inspiration

Pink dogwood on a spring morning

 

After a six-month hiatus from The Author Chronicles, I finally feel I’m ready to return to our blogging rotation and agreed to write today’s post. I half-finished a post over the weekend and intended to finish and publish it today, but the perfect spring weather, after too many days of weather more typical for March than May, has sabotaged my efforts.

This morning when I opened the windows and the sliding glass door and walked across the fresh green grass to hang towels on the clothesline, the beauty of the day demanded notice. The sun in the cloudless, bright blue sky warmed my skin while the light breeze cooled me. Birds chirped, and yellow buttercups and butterflies added sparkle to the landscape. This day was no time to write about the craft or business of writing, so I put the post I’d planned aside until another time.

Today is a day for joy and inspiration. A day to recharge, to celebrate beauty and nature, to become “one with the secrets of life itself.”

After all, when you pare writing — or any art form — down to its essence, what is it but the artist’s attempt to express the basic truths of existence, the secrets of life itself?

And life itself is precious.

Song Sparrow bathing in a puddle, The Author Chronicles, J. Thomas Ross, inspiration

Song Sparrow bathing in a puddle

 

For the past six months I’ve mostly watched the natural pageant through windows. In fact, I’ve spent more and more time indoors during the past few years as I struggled with back problems. Since I’d had back problems off and on for a couple decades, I expected eventual improvement. Months passed with no relief, but I put off going to the doctor until the pain got so bad a year and a half ago that I could no longer stand it. [This delay is not something I’d recommend. Be smart and see a doctor instead of suffering for needless months.]

My doctor sent me to a pain management center, where the physiatrist started me on physical therapy. That made a huge difference but didn’t relieve all my symptoms, so I also saw a pain management specialist there and had a lower back MRI. The MRI showed so many problems in my entire lower spine that the doctors were amazed I hadn’t experienced more severe symptoms. I had an epidural injection, which made me feel almost normal for a month, but both doctors said I really needed surgery.

The idea of spinal surgery scared me. No way did I want that. Stubborn, independent person that I am, I figured I could manage without surgery. I had two more epidurals, three months apart, but once each soon wore off and my condition gradually worsened.

Over time I limited my activities more and more, because I could no longer do many of them and because the minimal things I could still do took longer and sapped my energy. I couldn’t garden. I couldn’t hike or walk very far without having to sit down. I managed to shop only in stores that had carts I could lean on. I had already retreated from social media and, other than blog posts, could no longer concentrate well enough to write. Finally fed up with living a half life, I accepted the need for surgery.

The surgeon recommended by the pain management center did not accept my insurance. That initially upset me but turned out to be fortunate. My condition was so complicated that I wanted the best, so I researched spinal surgeons who accepted my insurance. I chose Dr. D. Greg Anderson of Rothman Institute in Philadelphia. He did a good job explaining the steps he would take to correct my problems, and in December I underwent two surgeries, two days apart.

The recovery has been long and difficult, and it’s seemed months longer than it actually was. I’ve had to practice patience because I had no choice. For three months I was not to bend, twist, or lift heavy weights. After that, physical therapy and weekly massages helped loosen up the tight muscles and tendons and helped me regain strength. Only time will heal the numbness around the incisions. Although I’m not back to normal yet, I’m getting there. And the physical problems I’m overcoming now are the results of the surgery — the problems I had before the surgery have all been corrected. Hallelujah!

As I watch the the buds bloom and the birds build nests, I feel a special connection to nature as the world come back to life this spring. I too am returning to life. I can stand and walk more than five minutes without having to sit before my legs going numb and refuse to work right. My mind is no longer muddled by pain or post-surgical drugs. And I am so thankful for the medicinal advancements that have made correction of my condition possible.

So today, as I eagerly anticipate returning to writing and all my former activities, I say celebrate! Live life to the fullest. Enjoy its the beauty and become one with its secrets.

 

buttercups in the lawn, The Author Chronicles, J. Thomas Ross, inspiration

Buttercups in the lawn

 

Posted by: Kerry Gans | May 11, 2017

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 05-11-2017

Welcome to this week’s Top Picks Thursday! Trees, flowers, grass, and pollen are everywhere here—all the cars are a lovely yellow-green. But we have plenty of writing links that are nothing to sneeze at!

The owners of Tate Publishing have been arrested. If you are a Tate Publishing victim, Victoria Strauss tells you what you need to do to get in on the proceedings.

Ela Lourenco with expert advice on how to write in order to encourage reluctant and dyslexic readers.

A Kingston University study finds that people who read books are nicer people.

CRAFT

For the illustrators in our readership, Guiseppe Castellano shares some must-read illustrator advice.

For any writers interested in ghostwriting, John Peragine has 10 tips for successful ghostwriters.

Writers hope for originality and talent. Adam Grant’s TED talk discusses the creative process and the key to being original, and Jody Hedlund lists 10 traits that are more important than talent.

Writers deal a lot with voice—authorial voice, character voice, narrative voice, etc. Julie Glover asks if you have embraced your natural voice, Jo Eberhardt examines perspective and authorial voice, K.M. Weiland explores how to write in an authentic historical voice, and Mary Kole shows how to create children’s books with readaloud potential.

Plot provides a structure for your readers to follow. Jess Lourey discusses classic story structures and what they teach us about novel plotting, and Jane Lebak examines the pitfalls of the “and then” plot.

We all want to keep the readers turning the pages. S.C. Sharman has 4 proven ways to build suspense, Janice Hardy explains what tension is and how to make it work for you, and James Scott Bell reminds us that our characters must earn their way out of trouble.

There are all sorts of techniques we can use to make our story pop. Mary Kole discusses using compressed narration in fiction, while Sandra Beasley talks similes.

Proofreading is the final step in editing your work, and Leila Cruickshank has 5 rules for proofreading your own work.

Writing can be lonely, so it’s important to gather other people around us who feed our creativity. Joanna Penn tells us how to build a network of writer friends, and Kelly Miller shares 5 reasons why every author should join a book club.

We all have problems that keep us from being as productive as we would like to be. Anna Elliott explores some bad writing habits and how to break them, and Jamie Raintree asks: are you writing out of love or fear?

Diana Schwartz lists 15 things you probably didn’t know about publishing a book, and Anne R. Allen examines 10 writing career mistakes to avoid.

BUSINESS

Don’t know whether to self-publish or go traditional? Laura Weymouth lays out the pros and cons of indie vs. traditional.

If you have your audio rights and aren’t sure what to do with them, Elizabeth S. Craig shares her experience expanding into audiobooks.

Rejection is a fact of life for authors. Leila Dewji explains why literary agents and publishers reject books.

Steve Laube answers the question: are agents necessary? If for you the answer is “yes”, Janet Reid discusses how to know if you’ve run out of agents to query, and what to ask on agent reference calls. Nathan Bransford shares some agent statistics on personalization, credentials, comp titles, and more.

No matter how you get published, you are going to need an author persona, also called an author brand. Anne Carley walks us through creating a clear writer persona, and Diana Forbes shows how to find your author brand.

Pitching is a part of almost every stage of publishing, from query letters to marketing. Michael Larson has the parts of a perfect pitch, while Dave Chilton reminds us that in marketing sometimes less is more.

In-person events are a good way to connect with readers. Annette Libeskind Berkovits tells how to build a better book launch, and Jesikah Sundin shares 5 tips for using swag to bond with readers and increase book sales.

Most of our readers will be found online. Frances Caballo breaks down Amazon ads for indie authors, Joel Friedlander lists 14 kinds of shareable content for bloggers, and Scott La Counte has 7 social media tips for authors.

Jami Gold examines the 6 elements of strategy to maximize your writing income, while Jane Friedman explores author marketing collectives by interviewing the Tall Poppy Writers.

THE UNIQUE SHELF

Have fun discovering the most popular fictional character in each state.

That’s all for this week’s Top Picks Thursday! To all the moms out there, have a happy and relaxing Mother’s Day.

Posted by: Kerry Gans | May 9, 2017

Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Reality

When I tell people that I write science fiction and fantasy, sometimes I get the response, “Oh, how fun to just make up anything you want!” Many people, especially those who don’t read those genres, don’t understand that sci-fi and fantasy authors can’t just make up anything they want—our stories always have a reality base to them.

Perhaps the most obvious basis in reality is that sci-fi and fantasy are always, always about the human condition. Even if there is not a single human character in the book, those stories are always a reflection on some part of humanity. The stories speak to and examine universal human emotions and experiences.

Another reality check is science itself. Especially if you write hard science fiction, the science needs to be right and it needs to be real. Space opera or soft sci-fi can bend science a bit by using the conventions of that sub-genre, but the common-sense laws of nature usually prevail. Now, you could of course write a world or universe with physical laws very different than our own, but even that would require a good deal of research to know how a universe with your laws would evolve and grow.

We sci-fi and fantasy writers layer in the reality by extrapolating present-day experiences into more fantastic ones. For instance, that disoriented feeling you get when you leave a movie theater and don’t remember what day it is, what time it is? Perhaps that’s how it feels to be transported. Or to go through a wormhole. And what about space travel via spaceship? Just this weekend I flew most of the way across the country. When I left Philadelphia, it was raining and 60 degrees. Five hours later, I walked off the plane to a sunny 106 degree heat. That time and environment change is akin to starting on one planet and landing on another—so similar, in fact, it’s easy to imagine!

So on the most basic level, science fiction and fantasy are based in reality. Why? Because those touchstones of reality make your story relatable. They give the reader a way into the fantastic world you are weaving. Once your reader has a place to firmly stand, you can lead them into ever-stranger places, and they will follow eagerly and confidently.

Posted by: Kerry Gans | May 4, 2017

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 05-04-2017

Welcome to this week’s Top Picks Thursday! We seem to have skipped spring and gone directly to summer in our neck of the woods. But we still have links sprouting all over the place for you!

Writers deal with a lot of rejection and failure. Ruth Harris shows us how to cope with failure, while reminding us that rejection and failure are not the same thing.

Emma Straub discusses the power of independent bookstores, while Katherine Brooks lists 50 of the best indie bookstores in America (friend of the blog Farley’s is #10!).

Lisa Lucas, the executive director of the National Book Foundation, aims to be a cheerleader for literature.

Nobel Laureates Toni Morrison and Sir Arthur Lewis will have buildings named for them at Princeton University.

In this new political climate, poetry finds renewed importance.

Readers, want to support your favorite authors but are strapped for cash? Debbie Ohi has 12+ ways to support an author, and Jody Hedlund has 10 simple ways to support authors you love.

CRAFT

Stories all start with an idea. Elizabeth Sims shares 4 ways to develop a great story idea.

One way to get your head around your novel’s world is to map the world. Barbara O’Neal discusses the complex power of mapping the world of your novel.

Characters are the heart of your novel. Character motivation is key to drawing in readers. Lisa Betz asks: what does your protagonist want and why can’t he have it? Character diversity adds depth to your novel. Lucy V. Hay shows how to write better diverse characters.

Once we’ve got some words on the page, we need to make it sing. Kristen Lamb has techniques to help you when your story hits a wall, Ali Luke lists 7 straightforward techniques to write better, and Julie Glover shares 4 common copy editing issues to watch for.

So how can we get the most writing out of our day? Jen Matera suggests treating your writing like a full-time job, and Jane Lebak warns you to guard your time.

Although the internet can be a distraction, it also allows authors to share their thoughts and experiences with us easily. Marie Lamba explores her dual roles of agent and author, and Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o discusses being a “language warrior” on the occasion of receiving yet another major honor: the second annual LARB/UCR Creative Writing Lifetime Achievement Award.

BUSINESS

If you self-publish, you need an ebook and a cover. David Kudler continues his ebook formatting series with some fun CSS tricks for ebooks, and Erika Liodice explores how to create a book cover that connects with readers.

If you are seeking an agent, sometimes an agent will reply to reading your full with a “revise and resend” (R&R) letter. Usually this is good news, but Janet Reid discusses what to do when you don’t want to make the changes suggested in the R&R.

Life happens, and sometimes writing becomes the last thing on our priority list, even when we have a contract. Janet Reid talks about what to do as an author when your life goes off the rails.

Our online presence sells books these days. Penny Sansevieri shows how to use a resource we all have to raise our profile by sprucing up our Amazon Author Central page.

THE UNIQUE SHELF

Check out 11 bookish feelings we need words for.

Librarians learn a lot in school, but Patricia Elzie shares some unexpected lessons from library school.

So just how many millions did Johnny Depp pay to fire Hunter S. Thompson’s ashes from a cannon?

A new poem by Yusef Komunyakaa is commissioned to honor the soldiers who fight America’s wars.

From Stephen King in Pet Sematary to John le Carré in The Night Manager, authors who’ve made cameos in the TV and film adaptations of their books.

A look at how Woodrow Wilson’s propaganda machine changed American journalism.

Cormac McCarthy ruminates on dreams and the evolution of language.

Charles Dickens called this machine “a monster”, but it helped London become what it is today.

Check out these tiny hand-bound books made by the Brontes as children.

If you are researching slavery, this amazing digital archive of slave voyages details the largest forced migration in history, with over 36,000 slave voyages documented.

When you preserve the past, you preserve the good and the bad. Kristi Westberg walks us through preserving the signs of censorship in a 16th century astronomy book.

That’s it for this week’s Top Picks Thursday!

 

Posted by: Gwendolyn Huber | May 2, 2017

Accountability

I’ve been thinking about what’s important in life. Should I choose paid work (important for paying those pesky bills) over non paid work (important to the spirit), and when do I sleep? Where is wise King Solomon when you need him?  But wait a minute. Do I have to choose?

Perhaps if I make myself accountable to someone besides myself I will find a way to use my time more efficiently.

I’m already very efficient, but maybe it’s possible that somewhere there is more.

I do paid work first because I have made a commitment to do it and if I don’t show up, someone holds me accountable, and then there are those bills. Sleep or lack of sleep holds me accountable in its own way – if I don’t get enough sleep then I get sick. I currently have a strong reason to keep good health habits. I go to yoga classes because if I don’t do yoga, pain holds me accountable, and if I do yoga on my own, I’m likely to lie down some where part way through the hour. I attend my band practices and scheduled gigs because I love singing but my band mates and audiences also hold me accountable.

If I want to make myself as a writer accountable to a regular schedule, I will need some ingredients

  1. Someone to make a commitment to – a writing partner, a writing group, a friend, or some online entity. Or perhaps a blog audience.

 

  1. I’ll need to give myself regular deadlines. Once a week seems like it would be a reasonable deadline.

 

  1. I’ll need to keep in mind why writing is so important. Although paying bills makes life much more pleasant than not paying bills, I am not on this earth to pay bills!

 

  1. Other important parts of this plan are something to write. Like a short story or a blog.

So now I have a rough plan and I realize things could get messy, will almost definitely get messy. I will put things out in the world before they’re fully formed and I won’t like that at all. But I will like the improvement I’ll see when I’m more productive.

Posted by: Kerry Gans | April 27, 2017

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 04-27-2017

Welcome to the last Top Picks Thursday of April!

Gabriel García Márquez, conjurer of literary magic, dies at 87.

The Man Booker International Prize 2017 shortlist is announced.

Writers, beware—Robin Storey explores the health risks of being a writer.

Ellen Oh talks about the power of representation in literature.

The NYPL Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture acquires James Baldwin papers.

While The Outsiders was groundbreaking, it didn’t create YA fiction.

Reviews are hard to come by, especially for self-published books. Roz Morris opens a dialogue with reviewers about their ban on reviewing self-published books.

Here are 15 images that prove librarians are the cleverest people ever.

CRAFT

Writing a memoir is unlike writing fiction—yet it’s not quite non-fiction, either. Bahar Gholipour explores writing a memoir as a strange psychological trip through your past.

All writers do some research for their books. Morgan Gist Macdonald shares 5 signs you’re doing too much research and it’s time to get back to writing.

Beginnings are hard. Sometimes it’s hard to begin the writing process. Laura Weymouth weighs the merits of plotting vs. pantsing. Sometimes it’s hard to being the actual story. Anne R. Allen lists 6 ways not to start your novel.

Characters are the heart of every story, but they can be difficult. Elizabeth S. Craig dissects the use of unpleasant characters in mysteries, while Jungle Red Writers talk about picking names that fit your story’s historical time.

When editing, there are issues large and small to deal with. Jami Gold discusses re-envisioning: how to fix big problems with small changes; Kris Spisak demystifies often-confused words starting with A, and Lee Lofland gives us a handy murder scene checklist.

There’s nothing like some insider information to help you get through this writing journey. Chuck Wendig shares 25 lessons he’s learned after 5 years and 20 books, and John Scalzi explains 10 things you don’t know about authors on book tour.

BUSINESS

When you self-publish, your price is up to you. Nathan Bransford discusses how to determine your price point when you self-publish.

No matter which way you publish, much of the publicity will be up to you. Joan Stewart shares the best way to follow up with publicity contacts.

Agent Janet Reid answers a writer who wants to know if it is possible to be a good writer and still get rejected, and new agent Cari Lamba of Jennifer Dichiara Agency is looking for clients.

Blogs and social media are the way many writers interact with their readers. Joel Freidlander has 3 questions to help bloggers with content creation, and Lisa Hall-Wilson shows how to grow your organic reach on Facebook.

THE UNIQUE SHELF

Most writers are huge readers. Zoraida Córdova has 15 weird things you do while reading that are actually totally normal.

When ancient manuscripts saves lives. Medieval medical books could hold the recipe for new antibiotics.

A Breaking Bad writer and producer is behind a new Anne of Green Gables TV series.

An unlikely pairing: when Bram Stoker met Walt Whitman.

The Oxford Dictionaries explore deadline and seven other words that originated during the American Civil War.

Excited researchers find a second parchment copy of the Declaration of Independence.

Here are 18 jokes you’ll only get if you’ve read Shakespeare.

Looking for inspiration? For $100/hour, you can rent the bedroom where Emily Dickinson composed her entire life’s work.

Most people think alcoholism killed Ernest Hemingway, but a psychiatrist argues that multiple concussions may have sped Hemingway’s demise.

This week in literature: Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales may have taken place this week in April.

That’s it for this week’s Top Picks Thursday! See you in May!

Posted by: Kerry Gans | April 20, 2017

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 04-20-2017

Welcome to this week’s Top Picks Thursday! Many of us are on spring break this week. If you are, I hope you are having fun and relaxing!

The New Yorker writer Hilton Als wins the Pulitzer Prize for criticism, a list of other Pulitzer winners, and a more in-depth review of some of the African-American winners.

Lee Wind reminds us that April is National Poetry Month.

The book world has recently lost two writers: Mari Evans, poet of black Midwestern freedom, died March 10th, and Patricia C. McKissack, honored children’s author, died at age 72.

Want to read outside your genre but aren’t sure which books in other genres are the best to start with? James Wallace Harris talks about the Genreflecting Advisory Series.

The ALA has announced the Top Ten Most Challenged Books of 2016, listen to an interview with the founder of We Need Diverse Books Ellen Oh, read this list of books dealing with the refugee experience for middle-grade and YA readers, and a library in New York City purposely had low windows to lure youths who “did not care to be outdone” by kids they saw reading inside.

Got an out-of-control book collection? Katie and Kelly McMenamin  tell how to organize your book collection your way.

CRAFT

For memoir writers: Ange de Lumier has 6 points to consider when writing a memoir.

K.M. Weiland defines what it means to move the plot, Colleen M. Story discusses how to use a writer’s intuition to strike creative gold, and Becca Puglisi examines why readers stop reading.

Characters—our stories would be nothing without them. Jami Gold defines who the protagonist is in a story, Alison Green Myers discusses character development through music, ESL Drummer takes the character interview to new depths, Robin Rivera explores the conundrum of killing nice characters, James Scott Bell talks about characters having the courage to change, and Kathryn Craft shows how to amplify your story’s power through groups.

Dialogue, properly written, can make your story sparkle. Janine Savage gives tips on adverbial dialogue tags, and Jen Matera advises speaking your dialogue to get the voices right.

Once we’re done writing, we need to make our prose shine. Larry Brooks discusses the common mistake of overwriting, Kristen Lamb examines 3 newbie mistakes, Jami Gold shows is how to fix bad writing habits, Melissa Donovan explains how to use the ellipsis, and Lisa Lepki tells us what editing software can teach you about writing.

Kassandra Lamb debates whether or not to write short, and Liz Michalski examines the role of the subconscious in our writing.

Jeff Goins lists the 7 differences between amateurs and professionals, and Bill Ferris dissects the social contract for writers.

Writers want less stress in our lives. Shay Goodman explore how recognizing patterns in your life can make you more efficient and less stressed, and Nathan Bransford reminds us that its okay to feel emotions other than what society tells us we should feel about events in our life.

Lucky for us, many writers are free with their writing advice. Emily Temple lists Kurt Vonnegut’s greatest writing advice, Chuck Wendig deals with writing blurbs for books, and Amber Love talks about writing, comics, and more.

Take a peek inside audio book narrating as David Kempf interviews audio book narrator Ray Porter.

BUSINESS

If you’re interested in freelancing, Jane Friedman says freelance writing IS a viable career and don’t listen to naysayers.

Form rejections can make writers crazy. Jessica Faust gives the top 10 reasons why BookEnds Agency rejects manuscripts, and Parul Macdonald shares 6 myths and truths of what an editor at a publishing house looks for.

Susan Spann lays out how to request a reversion of publishing rights.

Steve Laube examines some ways to grow your market.

The book blurb is your chance to hook the reader. Rayne Hall shows how to write the perfect blurb, and Beth Bacon tells how to generate more book sales with a key-word powered blurb.

How to get the word out about your book? G.D. Harper does a case study on how to maximize Facebook advertisements, and Frances Caballo outlines many ways to get attention for your book on Amazon.

Social media can be a help or a hindrance to writers. Janet Reid explains that you don’t have to be everywhere on social media—just where your readers are, and Melissa Donovan shows how to use Pinterest for writing ideas and inspiration.

THE UNIQUE SHELF

Lindsey Bahr reviews the Emily Dickinson tale A Quiet Passion, while Lynn Neary talks further about the film.

Check out these 30 enamel pins for book lovers.

Three libraries claim to be the oldest library in Texas—and they’re all kinda right.

Raquel D’Apice has issues with Goodnight Moon that many of us can relate to.

David Cole reveals a case of poetry in the courtroom.

How knowledgeable are you? Can you pass a 3rd grade grammar test? Can you get a 5 on this AP English exam? How good are you with synonyms?

Renaissance writers were the original rock stars, and now you can read more of their Renaissance literary treasures online; Michael Freemantle traces the history of Gowland’s Lotion, a popular but toxic 18th-19th medical remedy mentioned by Jane Austen; and check out this miniature manuscript in a circular format.

That’s all for this week’s Top Picks Thursday! See you next week!

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