Posted by: Kerry Gans | July 28, 2016

Top Picks Thursday! For Readers and Writers 07-28-2016

Posted by: J. Thomas Ross | July 26, 2016

ConGregate 3 ~ 2016

Panel: The Evolving Role of Authors with Sharon Stogner, Tamsin L. Silver, Karen McCullough, Chris Kennedy, and Stephen Mark Rainey, 7-15

Panel: “The Evolving Role of Authors” with Sharon Stogner, Tamsin L. Silver, Karen McCullough, Chris Kennedy, and Stephen Mark Rainey, 7-15

If you were in the vicinity of the Radisson Hotel on South Main Street in High Point, NC, from July 15 through July 17, you might have noticed people of all ages — some in costumes — gathering for a weekend of fun at ConGregate 3.The convention is a small one, but that’s one of the things that makes it thoroughly enjoyable.

Panel: Side Kicks - Who Needs Them with Darin Kennedy, Karen McCullough, and Larry N. Martin, 7-15

Panel: “Side Kicks – Who Needs Them” with Darin Kennedy, Karen McCullough, and Larry N. Martin, 7-15

Friday at the convention was Hawaiian Shirt Day, a tradition that honors the memory of contributors to the science fiction and fantasy community — writers, actors, producers, editors, artists, and more — who were lost in the previous year.

Panel: Genre Blending - SF&F & More with Chris Kennedy, Larry N. Martin, Tamsin L. Silver, and Nicole Givens Kurtz, 7-16

Panel: “Genre Blending – SF&F & More” with Chris Kennedy, Larry N. Martin, Tamsin L. Silver, and Nicole Givens Kurtz, 7-16

This year’s special guests included Writer Guest of Honor Steven Barnes, Artist Guest of Honor Lindsey Look, Special Writer Guest A. J. Hartley, and Special Musical Guests Valentine Wolfe.

Panel: DC vs. Marvel with Chris Shrewsbury, Nicole Givens Kurtz, JT the Enginerd, and Gary Mitchel, 7-17

Panel: “DC vs. Marvel” with Chris Shrewsbury, Nicole Givens Kurtz, JT the Enginerd, and Gary Mitchel, 7-17

The convention offered a variety of activities: panels classified as expert talks or audience participation; author signings; Java and Pros, where you could enjoy a cup of coffee while asking questions or listening to authors read their works; concerts with White Plectrum, Gray Rinehart, Blibbering Humdingers, Valentine Wolfe, and a gathering of musicians in The Final Jam; morning Tai Chi with Steven Barnes; gaming; children’s activities; the Dealers’ Room; the Charity Auction; the Baen Traveling Road Show; the Con Suite; the presentation of the 2016 Manly Wade Wellman Award for Science Fiction in the Carolinas to John G. Hartness; the Costume Contest; and the Quiet Space for those who needed a break from the activities.

Panel: Psychology of First Contact with Paula S. Jordan, Stephen Simmons, and Randall Hayes, 7-17

Panel: “Psychology of First Contact” with Paula S. Jordan, Stephen Simmons, and Randall Hayes, 7-17

Here are some of the panel topics:

    • Children’s Programs:  Twisting with the Wizard: Arts and Crafts; Flabbergast the Wizard; Creating the Well-Dressed Puppet; Mask Creations; STEM for Kids
    • Comics and Superheroes:  75 Years of the All-American Hero; Superheroes and Why We Need Them; Superheroes and the Law; Holy Golden Anniversary, Batman!; DC vs. Marvel
    • Panel: Superheroes and the Law with Samantha Bryant, Steven S. Long, and Edward McKeown, 7-16

      Panel: “Superheroes and the Law” with Samantha Bryant, Steven S. Long, and Edward McKeown, 7-16

    • Costuming:  Intro to Costuming; Iron Maker; Raiding Your Closet for Costumes; Cosplay for Everyone; Costuming Materials and Costs
    • Fandom: Conventions and Cosplay with Disabilities; The Daily Lives of Fans; Where to Find Diversity in Media and Books; The Not So Secret Fandom; Do You Want to Start a Fan Group?
    • Fantasy:  Writing Urban Fantasy beyond Werewolves and Vampires and Witches; From Whose Perspective?; Mixing History and Magic; The Wise Old Wizard
    • Film:  Independent Films: Changing the Industry?
    • Games:  Name That Show; HollyWeird Squares
    • Paranormal:  Do You Believe in Ghosts?; Zombie Defense: Urban Survival School; Ghost Stories; Haunted Soundscapes
    • Panel: Protagonists with PTSD with Tedd Roberts, Ronald T. Garner, and Janine K. Spendlove, 7-16

      Panel: “Protagonists with PTSD” with Tedd Roberts, Ronald T. Garner, and Janine K. Spendlove, 7-16

    • Podcasting:  Podcasting Your Passion; The Future of Podcasting
    • Miscellaneous: Crowdfunding Your Vision; Blasts from the Past
    • Mystery: The Appeal of Sherlock Holmes
    • Research for Writing:  Lost in Time; Science Research for the SF Writer
    • Science:  AI — Science Fiction or Fact; The Practical Physiology of Immortality; The Challenger and Its Impact on Space; Case Studies in Handwavium
    • Self-Publishing:  Self/Indie Publishing: Marketing; Finding the Right Editor; Rising Above the Noise: Maximizing Your Profits with
    • Star Trek: How Star Trek Created Our World; Star Trek Celebrates 50 Years
    • Steampunk: Steampunk, Victorians, and the Occult; What Makes It Steampunk?
    • Panel: Finding the Right Editor with Melissa Gilbert, Sharon Stogner, and Leona R. Wisoker, 7-15

      Panel: “Finding the Right Editor” with Melissa Gilbert, Sharon Stogner, and Leona R. Wisoker, 7-15

    • World Building:  The Role of Politics in F/SF; Getting to Know Your Aliens and Other Non-Humans; From Corvus to Keyhole — Shipyards: Past, Present, and Science Fiction; World Building Without the Info Dump
    • Writing — Crafting Characters: Developing Characters Beyond a Single Dimension; The Flawed Hero; Side Kicks — Who Needs ‘Em; Protagonists with PTSD
    • Writing:  On the Difference Between Screenplays and Novels; The Art of the Short Story; How Would Your Fight Scene Work?; Writing a Series: the How and the What; Tag You’re It [about tags in dialogue]; Collaboration Isn’t For Everyone: Pros and Cons
    • Panel: - Ready? Aim! Oops! with Ronald T. Garner, Will, Misty Massey, and Edward McKeown, 7-16

      Panel: “Ready? Aim! Oops!” with Ronald T. Garner, Will, Misty Massey, and Edward McKeown, 7-16

      In addition to the panels, a number of in-depth workshops were offered: Plotting with Allen Wold; Photography Workshop for Cosplayers; Podcasting Workshop; 105th Squad Demo/Workshop; Allen Wold’s Regionally Famous Writers’ Workshop; Be the Next Pixar — 3D Modeling and Animation for Anyone; Leather Workshop; and Filking Workshop.

      Panel: Superheroes and Why We Need Them with Maya Priesler, Samantha Bryant, Steven S. Long, and John G. Hartness, 7-16

      Panel: “Superheroes and Why We Need Them” with Maya Priesler, Samantha Bryant, Steven S. Long, and John G. Hartness, 7-16

      Every panel and event I attended was lively, informative, and enjoyable. Kudos to the conventions organizers and panelists!

      Panel: The Flawed Hero with Alexandra Christian, Tamsin Silver, Darin Kennedy, and Gary Mitchel, 7-15

      Panel: “The Flawed Hero” with Alexandra Christian, Tamsin Silver, Darin Kennedy, and Gary Mitchel, 7-15

      I’m already looking forward to next year, when ConGregate 4 will host the 55th annual DeepSouthCon and feature Writer Guest of Honor Barbara Hambly. Hope to see you there!

      Panel: Writing a Series - The How and the What with Samantha Bryant, Gail Z. Martin, Leona Wisoker, and Nicole Givens Kurtz, 7-16

      Panel: “Writing a Series – The How and the What” with Samantha Bryant, Gail Z. Martin, Leona Wisoker, and Nicole Givens Kurtz, 7-16


Posted by: Kerry Gans | July 21, 2016

Top Picks Thursday! For Readers and Writers 07-21-2016

20160416_092033Welcome to this week’s Top Picks Thursday, where we Chroniclers scour the internet for the best posts about writing and reading each week. How’s everyone enjoying their summer? I find that the library is a great, cool place to take my daughter to beat the summer heat.

Speaking of libraries… The world’s oldest working library will soon open its doors to the public, discover the Mertz—New York’s nearly secret botanical library, and check out this 1813 Gothic library.

Many libraries are struggling to keep up with the technological demands of the times, and America’s library is no different. Kyle Chayka details the Library of Congress’s struggles with digitization.

The availability of books turns out to be a key factor in a child’s vocabulary level and early education. A new study of poverty-level neighborhoods exposes vast “book deserts” where kids simply have no books, and examines what this means for them.

Adding to the growing diversity in literature is great, but it is not always easy. Devika Fernando explores the pros and cons of writing multicultural stories.

In rather shocking news, children’s author Helen Bailey was murdered, and her partner charged.


What genre do you write? You’ll need to know when pitching your book. Richard Kadrey takes a look at what makes a story urban fantasy.

When we’re getting started on a new story (or even in revisions), getting the overall picture right is our goal. Tracey Warr shares questions to guide us through plot and structure, while Martina Boone suggests mapping your book so it makes sense.

Our readers connect to our characters. Elizabeth Sims describes how internal dialogue builds reader confidence, and Melanie Conklin explains how to find a character’s voice through letter writing.

Adding depth to our writing is always a good thing. Sacha Black examines how juxtaposition can create depth, and Roz Morris shows how to make your theme clear to the reader.

Writers look at many aspects of our craft during editing. One thing we need to be wary of is the “burden of knowledge,” where we subconsciously assume the reader knows what we know, and so vital information does not make it onto the page. Jennie Nash tells us how to shake off the burden of knowledge. Meanwhile, Daphne Gray-Grant explores the value of an editing vacation.

Victoria Mixon shares 7 aspects of writing from screenwriter Aaron Sorkin, Janine Savage discusses how lucid dreaming can improve your creativity, and Writer’s Relief lists 5 steps to take when the writing gets tough and you want to quit.


We’ve all seen the headlines that ebook sales are falling, but a closer look shows that the drop is in sales from major publishers. Aaron Pressman explain why ebook sales from major publishers are plummeting.

Think long-form work is the only way to make good money? Stephen R. Campbell interviews T.S. Paul, who tells us how to make real money selling short fiction.

Writers are aware of the importance of a query letter. Agent Sharon Pelletier shares a guide to sample pages, so we can make the best first impression.

Many writers have blogs as part of our platforms. Anne R. Allen gives us 6 tips for getting more traffic to your author blog, and Nina Amir collated 15 expert tips to get more blog comments.


If you can find this typewriter, you can contribute to this giant poem.

Michael Waters lists 6 must-read YA books for Mr. Robot fans.

A poignant look at the World War I diaries of Captain Charles May on the eve of the Somme offensive.

Shakespeare has a special place in American culture, from Bunker Hill to Gilligan’s Island.

Paul Tremblay reminisces about his 1970s Satanic horror childhood—and how it has prepared him for the realities of today’s world.

Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book evokes stifling heat and steam…and was written in snow-laden Vermont.

A look at how picture books from Soviet Russia (1920s-30s) impacted children’s books.

A man who didn’t speak English wrote a Portuguese-to-English phrasebook that became a comedy sensation in the 1880s.

Check out this portrait of Emily Brontë by her brother Branwell.

Every writer has a playlist. Jane Austen’s music collection is now online.

Incredible photos of a 100-year-old theater converted into a stunning bookstore.

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



Posted by: Kerry Gans | July 19, 2016

5 Ways a New Story Is Like a New Car

I recently bought a new car and I was struck by how similar buying a new car is like starting to write a new story. Both are bittersweet experiences, leaving behind something you cared about and spent a great deal of time with for a new adventure. Here are 5 ways a new story is like a new car:

1997 Saturn SL

1997 Saturn SL

1. It’s Exciting.

Who doesn’t love the thrill of starting something new? That moment when the idea is bright and shiny, flawless and epic. Embarking on a new project opens new horizons and gives the enticing possibility of going anywhere imaginable. It epitomizes the start of a new journey, that moment where we as the heroes of our own story answer the call and begin the quest.

2. The New Gadgets Are Like New Characters and Settings.

It’s been 20 years since I bought a new car. My last one had a cassette player. This one has a CD player, but many manufactures are now forgoing the CD player for an USB connection to stream your own music. This car is full of new gadgets that I need to get used to, that I need to work with for a while to understand, and that may befuddle me for a while.

A new story brings new characters and settings. I need to get to know the new characters, work with them for a while to find their hidden depths, and both the characters and settings may puzzle me for a while. And like the leap from cassette tape to USB, the “state of the art” in my writing keeps evolving. I am a better craftsman in the new novel than in the last one, and bring new techniques and deeper understanding of craft to the project.

3. It’s a Bit Uncomfortable.

After driving the same car for 20 years, the new one has a certain level of discomfort. Part of it is because I don’t want to ding the new car, and part of it is because all the buttons, etc., are not exactly where I am used to them being. I need to adjust the seat and the mirrors, and will probably have to refine those adjustments over time.

Leaving a project I’ve worked on for so long can be jarring. Picking up a new one can be a little uncomfortable. The reality of getting the story from your head to the page invariably dings that perfect, shiny idea. None of the characters are old friends yet. The plot is sketchy, perilous. I can’t always see everything clearly, and may need to adjust my view from time to time. Only time will allow me to settle in and make the driver’s seat envelop me comfortably.

4. It Smells.

That new-car smell can be overwhelming. Even when it’s not gag-worthy, it is unmistakable. Unless you are incredibly blessed as a writer, parts of your new project will have that first-draft smell to them. Not necessarily an unpleasant smell, but distinct. It wafts up from places where I need to dig a little deeper and fix things (so many things…) It’s an indescribable odor—but I know it when I smell it.

5. It’s a Huge Investment.

It takes a long time to buy a new car. Researching the models and the stats, then searching for the best deals can take hours. One of the car dealers said people spend an average of 18 hours researching on their own before they come into the dealer. Then, of course, there is the large monetary investment in paying for the car.

A new novel is also a huge investment of time. There is always research involved in a book, although exactly how much depends on the topics covered, the time period, and your own personal expertise in any given area. The actual writing is time consuming. Anywhere from months to years can get sunk into a book. That’s a lot of time—and time is money.

2016 Toyota Corolla

2016 Toyota Corolla

Like buying a new car, starting a new story is a big deal. You need to put some thought into it, because you’ll be spending a great deal of time and effort on it. But it’s also a moment of joy and excitement, because you’re beginning a new journey and the road may take you to unexpected places.

So let the odometer spin, and roll on!

Posted by: Kerry Gans | July 14, 2016

Top Picks Thursday! For Readers and Writers 07-14-2016

May 11 - laptopWelcome to this week’s Top Picks Thursday, where we round up some of the best posts about writing and reading on the internet. We’re at the July midpoint, and the heat is on!

The Guardian announced its longlist for the 2016 Children’s Fiction Prize.

Matt Hearndon has found a surprising way to write better without becoming a better writer.

Savvy Book Writers looks into the shocking fact why authors don’t get paid.

As diversity in books becomes more in the public eye, Corinne Duyvis and Kayla Whaley give a detailed post on disability terminology; Nicole Chung, Cathy Linn Che, Karissa Chen, Ari Laurel, Christine Hyung-Oak Lee, and Shing Yin Khor explore Asian American literature; and Emmie Mears talks about life as a writer when her very identity is political.

The highly-anticipated movie The BFG released July 1, and here Steven Spielberg discusses why he made The BFG.


Getting the structural elements of our story correct can go a long way to making revisions easier. Angela Ackerman explains why choosing your setting is so important, Roz Morris discusses whether you really need conflict in every scene and disaster in every act, and K.M. Weiland shows how to transform your story with a moment of truth.

We all have our own writing style, but there’s always room for improvement. Roz Morris shares 3 steps to a smoother writing style, while Nat Russo clarifies the difference between defending your style and being stubborn.

At some point in the process, writing is just you alone with your words. But having friends to help get you to that point can improve your writing. Janice Hardy shares the benefits of talking through your scenes, while P.J. Parrish discusses the benefits and details of successfully co-writing fiction.

James Scott Bell reveals how to write an eating scene, and Donald Maass explains how to get ahead of the reader so your pace doesn’t lag.

Rob Vlock examines 8 classic openings and why they work, while David R. Gillham shares 5 tips for writing historical fiction.

Barbara Baig reminds us that not all writing practice is created equal, Isabel Costello explores writing about love, and James Scott Bell lists 5 pieces of writing advice you should ignore.

Creativity and craft can be improved in many ways. Melissa Donovan shows the power of reflective journaling, and Jordan Dane shares ideas to improve your writer’s group.

As writers, our personal emotions can influence our creativity and writing. Carmen DeSousa explain how you can use your emotional rollercoaster to your writing advantage, and Jenny Blake has 10 tips on how to write a book without losing your mind.

Lauren Laverne revels in the simple bliss of book shopping, and H.M. Bouwman has an epiphany about the writing life while writing (in the) happy middles.


No matter how you publish, you need to understand copyright. Susan Spann busts some popular copyright myths.

If you self-publish, you do it all. Jami Gold discusses how bonus material can keep your readers coming back for more, while Thad McIlroy examines Barnes & Noble’s announcement that it will sell self-published books in stores.

Publishing can be overwhelming, so Jurgen Appelo broke it down into his Gearbox Method of publishing. Some people publish books from their blog posts, so Zoe M. McCarthy tells us what you should consider when going from blog to book.

If you are slogging through the query trenches, Annie Neugebauer dissects the query letter pitch, Janet Reid shares 10 reasons she rejected queries and how to avoid those mistakes, and Marie Lamba takes us inside query land.

Tom Chalmers asks an often-overlooked question: what is book marketing anyway? Kate Raphael gives 5 steps to a killer book talk, and Barb Drozdowich reveals 10 tricks for getting your book reviewed by a book blogger.

Anne R. Allen tells authors to ignore the blogging rules, and Julia Seales lists 7 times authors have had the last laugh.


There is perhaps no single piece of technology more central to a writer’s life than a keyboard. Joel Friedlander takes a look at the history of the keyboards of our lives.

Today, many use blogs to document their lives. F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald used scrapbooks to document their lives—and the Fitzgerald scrapbooks are now online.

Interested in literary travel? Try following the route of Don Quixote, one of the greatest novels of all time. Or discover Samuel Pepys at London’s St. Olave’s church.

Esther French examines the Elizabethan plants that Shakespeare would have known well.

Meet Mabel Loomis Todd, the adultress who made Emily Dickinson famous.

If you sometimes worry that your writing habits are a bit odd, check out the eccentric writing habits of famous writers.

That’s it for Top Picks Thursday this week! Enjoy this summer weekend, and we’ll see you back here next week.


Posted by: Gwendolyn Huber | July 12, 2016

A Writing Fast

I’m partaking of a writing fast.

It sounds counter intuitive. Writers write. Yet, although I’m making exceptions (like this one), I’m taking a deliberate pause in writing. This is not procrastination. It feels different. I imagine it to be like the way a growing child fills out before they go through a growth spurt and lengthen out. I imagine the weight of unwritten words grows and grows until they must spill out.

It’s an intuitive choice become a conscious choice. It started out as me picking up the pen to sort out my thoughts journal style. I put the pen down without writing a word, with a very clear understanding that if I wrote right then I would be perpetuating old thought patterns and writing patterns that I don’t want to reproduce. It’s time to grow into writing more efficiently and that to do that I need to take a pause.

Posted by: Kerry Gans | July 7, 2016

Top Picks Thursday! For Readers and Writers 07-07-2016

Posted by: Matt Q. McGovern | July 6, 2016

Making something for no reason at all

I have a number of friends that are very talented with crafts. When I say crafts I’m thinking of a wide variety including: fabric and cloth (couturier), metal-working, blacksmith, machinist, carpentry, welding, painting, sculpture, photography, and engineering of the all-encompassing variety (okay, I hang with a lot of Ren-Faire and PhilCon folks).

They all call themselves artists and many of them write. A recent conversation I had with one of them involved a project that was more about the interest and/or the proposed idea of it as opposed to the practicality of it. A common theme I’ve noticed amongst many of my friends is the eventual arrival to this seemingly conflicting destination.

Were it not for the cost and availability of time/resources, some of these projects would get done more often. For instance, just today I had a discussion involving the invention of a better cat litter system that was more efficient in its use of space. Of course, this litter box was self-raking, self-disposing, and refilling. I won’t go very far into our findings other than to mention that we discussed using a thermal camera for the detection of…the parts of the litter that need expunging.

Though the majority of these design sessions never make it past the mental blueprints phase, there are enough that do to ensure the viability of more brainstorm ideas which is where this all leads me back to writing.

A creative idea without fear or care of practical use lives in the mind of every artist and writer I know.

This isn’t to say the writers and artists are not practical. Many of them are the most disciplined at working their craft without distraction that I know. I just happen to know that for all of those that I’ve talked to about this, their mind is making stuff up for no reason at every moment it can.

Often, the best ideas for what will eventually become a very practical project are born out of the most experimental of speculations. Regardless of whether or not the project gains that practical element, the ruminations of the artist is always enjoyable and a point of pride.

I hope this blog post finds you at your creative best and most efficient. But I hope it also finds you distracted and wanting to make ten other things. Because a maker makes and doesn’t care what for.

Posted by: Kerry Gans | June 30, 2016

Top Picks Thursday! For Readers and Writers 06-30-2016

Even writers need a vacation!Welcome to this week’s Top Picks Thursday links! It is the last day of June, the official start of summer, and the time of year writers with children start wondering how we can squeeze writing in with the kids tearing up the house around us.

Kelly Simmons has some amusing but sage advice on how summer writers can cope with the higher demands on their time.

Speaking of time, many writers are wondering how they can find time to write multiple books a year. Janice Hardy takes a hard look at the need to writer faster, and reminds us that how many books we can write a year is not just about the numbers.

Any movie lovers out there are probably familiar with Rotten Tomatoes, where professional critics and audience members opinions combine to rate a movie. Now books have their own Rotten Tomatoes: Book Marks.

Diversity, especially diversity in children’s literature, is a topic with growing awareness. Author Mike Jung says he wants his daughter to see herself in the books she reads, Wesaun explains how they are never whole, Kayla Whaley examines the particular invisibility of disability and sexual attraction, and Toni Morris explores how writing is a dangerous pursuit.

In honor of Father’s Day, Sean Taylor takes a look at the top 10 dads in picture books, and 7 authors write on fathers and fatherhood.

Megan Abbott reflects on what the late Lois Duncan meant to several generations of girls and the literary world.

Anne E. Cunningham and Keith E. Stanovich examine what reading does for the mind.


Writers need to consider all sorts of big-picture issues when we start a new project. Rob Bignell explains why your story isn’t its plot or structure, Linda K. Sienkiewski explores the use of second person narration in her story, Darcy Pattison gives us 23 ways to defeat the sagging middle, and Ruth Harris shows how to fix some common first chapter fumbles.

Once we’ve nailed the big items, we have the detailed elements to wrestle with. Kristen Lamb asks if you are botching your dialogue, Becca Puglisi discusses how symbols can be found in setting, Ann Garvin describes how to be funny, and Julie Glover lists 4 ways to break grammar rules with style.

Characters are a combination of big and small elements. Kate Foster explains how to make your character shine from page one, the Magic Violinist shares 6 characters your protagonist needs to have around, and K.M. Weiland has the 5 secrets of complex supporting characters.

We all search for ways to spur our creativity. Daphne Gray-Grant gives us 5 helpful hints for writing at night, Melissa Donovan shares 7 inspiring journal ideas, and Anne Janzer shows how to create a mindset conducive to writing.

More and more writers are finding the benefits of participating in a writing community. Dina von Lowenkraft explains her take on writing as a solitary undertaking, Janice Hardy shares a less lonely way to get more writing done, Larry Brooks tells a tale of two writers, and Jeff Goins reveals the surprising secret to becoming a great writer.

Heather Webb discusses what to do when you don’t want to write, Lisa Kerr explains how one writer overcame her fears and got a second chance, Steve Laube examines inspiration vs. perspiration, V.E. Schwab talks about how long it takes to become an “overnight success”, and Kathryn Craft shows how gratitude will enrich your writing life.


Alex Shephard argues that if Barnes & Noble goes out of business, it will mean disaster for books and book lovers. Stacey Kendall Glick responds.

If the old model of big box stores dies out, new models will rise to take its place. Roz Morris discusses Unbound, a combination of crowdfunding and hybrid publishing. Meanwhile, Jim Milliot takes a look at digital fatigue as a factor in ebook sales decline.

Jane Friedman has some handy questions to ask yourself when deciding whether to self-publish or traditionally publish.

A self-publisher has to know a lot about a lot. R.J. Crayton explains what the Kindle “delivery cost” is and how it affects you, and Giacomo Giammatteo has everything indie authors need to know about ISBNs for self-published books.

For a peek inside one agent’s inbox, Janet Reid shares 25 reasons she rejected queries today and how to avoid them. Meanwhile, Savvy Book Writers tells us to watch out for these legal terms in contracts.

Marketing is the boogeyman for many an author. Frances Caballo shares book marketing tips from industry experts, and Alexander von Ness explains how a book cover redesign can revamp your marketing.

Social media gets you in front of your potential audience, but with so many platforms, we could spend all our days online. Chris Syme discusses when less is more in social media, Frances Caballo explains which audience is reached by Snapchat, and Lorna Sixsmith tells how to book market with Blab.

For bloggers, Zoe McCarthy shows how you can write blog content faster, and Rand Fishkin lays out SEO for bloggers—how to nail the optimization process for your posts.


Publisher’s Weekly brings us Writers to Watch: Big Debut Fiction of Fall 2016.

Think you know your poetry? Try your hand at Encyclopedia Britannica’s first line poetry quiz.

In possibly the best editor’s letter ever, Ursula Nordstrom writes to Maurice Sendak.

Susan Adrian discusses the huge impact Meg Murray from A Wrinkle in Time had on her—and millions of girls like her.

Check out these soldier newspapers from the American Civil War.

The New Yorker retitles classic novels like Friends episodes.

Voltaire—philosopher and…scammer? Roger Pearson examines how Votaire made a fortune by scamming one of the first lotteries.

Allie Newman tells us what spilled ink and fingerprints reveal about Medieval manuscripts, and Sarah Biggs walks us through some epic battles in Medieval manuscripts: Knights vs. Snails.

That’s it for this week’s Top Picks Thursday! Enjoy a safe and fun Fourth of July to our American readers.




Posted by: J. Thomas Ross | June 23, 2016

Top Picks Thursday: For Readers and Writers 06-23-2016

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