Posted by: J. Thomas Ross | August 30, 2016

Reading — New Reasons It’s Good For You!

My bookshelves are overflowing. Books also sit on dressers, chests, the coffee table, side tables, counters, and any other available surface. Boxes of books line the upstairs hallway. Some of these books are my husband’s, but most are mine.

books-1260734__180 via Pixabay - Author Chronicles

As you may have guessed, I hate getting rid of books that I enjoyed reading, and I’ve read many of my favorites more than once. Recently, however, the lack of places to put new books has made me look at my overabundance of books from a new perspective. I’ve realized that I will probably never have time (or desire) to reread the hundreds and hundreds of books in my house, not when so many fascinating new books are published each year. So I’ve begun the difficult task of going through the piles, boxes, and shelves of books and donating all except those I can’t bear to part with. (My husband thinks there are still too many of the latter.)

One unexpected result of this book clean-out is more reading on my part. I’ve reread a lot of books that have sat on my shelves for decades, and I’ve once more enjoyed the magic of being transported to those other times and places and situations with characters I love.

Of course, even when I’m the busiest and don’t have time to pick up a book, I still read newspapers and magazines as well as blog posts. From this reading comes not only information that helps me in my daily life, but also a continuous source of ideas for stories, characters, and settings.

newspaper-1595773__180 via Pixabay - Author Chronicles

Yes, I’ve always appreciated reading and don’t need scientific studies to show how it benefits me. Still, I really love when researchers discover new virtues of reading.

If you check out The Author Chronicles regularly, you know that we chroniclers are staunch advocates of reading as well as of writing. Our Top Picks Thursday includes blog posts about reading whenever we can find them, and I was pleased to include four posts about reading in the August 18th Top Picks Thursday. One of these posts, from, discussed research that indicates that readers may live longer than non-readers. This finding really thrills me: living longer means having time to read more books … and thus live even longer!

Last week I found more good news for readers when I picked up the September issue of Prevention magazine. A short article in their Daily Pulse section reports that researchers at University of California, Berkeley, have discovered that listening to story podcasts activated sensations, emotions, and memories throughout the entire brain, not just on one side. In other words, listening to stories engages the brain more than music or math.

Increased brain engagement (brain exercise) is a good thing, and while we can’t say for certain from the results of the University of California study, I’d imagine that listening to audiobooks and also reading paper and ebooks would have similar effects.  Stories activate many areas of our brains (People in my family won’t be surprised by this. When I’m deep in a novel, my mind is so engaged that I’m unaware of anything that’s going on around me.) — and maybe this extra brain activity is one reason people who read live longer.

Certainly, new studies will discover further benefits from reading, although I don’t need any more reasons to pick up a book and read. Do you?

books - shelf-159852__180 via Pixabay - Author Chronicles - reading

Are your bookshelves overflowing? Maybe that’s not such a bad thing.

Images of books and newspapers from

Posted by: Kerry Gans | August 25, 2016

Top Picks Thursday! For Readers and Writers 08-25-2016

Welcome to this week’s Top Picks Thursday! The Olympics have ended, which means I can once more go to bed at a decent hour.

Did you know librarians have Olympics, too? As if Librarian Olympics isn’t cool enough, Finland’s hot new karaoke bar is in a public library. Of course, you can still get books from a library. Check out some of the books on President Obama’s summer reading list.

A big congratulations to the 2016 Hugo Award winners!


Sometimes the beginning isn’t the best place to start. Jennifer Fenn discusses when beginning at the end is helpful.

Although “show don’t tell” is a frequent piece of writing advice, Martina Boone shares 4 times when “show don’t tell” can kill your work.

Getting the details right can make or break your book. A.D. Shrum examines the speed of communication in the world you build, Iain Bain explores how to write funny, Angela Ackerman creates mood in a scene using light and shadow, and Jodie Renner discusses the how and when to use hyphens, dashes, and ellipses.

Those pesky characters can keep us writers up at night. Jody Hedlund has 6 key things to consider when developing characters, Becca Puglisi explores the emotional wound of being rejected by your peers, Zoe M. McCarthy shows how to use point of view to deepen your scene, and Jami Gold seeks the best approach to character arc development.

We all have a writing process, and no writer’s is the same as another. Sacha Black lists 8 steps to discover your perfect writing process, while Jeff Goins shares his 3-bucket system to get writing done every day.

When you’ve done all you can with your manuscript, you need an editor. Maya Rock lays out 6 ways to vet a freelance editor, because en editor can help your manuscript give your readers a delicious book hangover, as described by Ash Krafton.

Writers write because they love it—it’s part of who they are. C.S. Lakin discusses how to avoid killing your passion for writing, while Richelle Morgan advocates feeding your inner artist.

We all know people who seem to radiate energy—and those who suck the energy from us. Kathryn Craft asks what you bring to your support team, while Sarah McCoy examines the lost art of listening.

Attending writing conferences can help take our craft and business knowledge to the next level. Nancy L. Erickson explores how a writing conference can help you become a successful author, while Bill Ferris shows us how to panel like a pro.


Steve Laube has some general industry news, and S.E. Zbasnick tells us how to avoid marketing scams.

If you’re self-publishing, you need to make your book look and sound great. Joel Friedlander explains how to work with cover artists and interior designers, Dan Balow shows how to choose a good title for your book, and Kristen Lamb explores why your book isn’t selling.

If you are going the traditional route, you need to woo agents/publishers. Jane Friedman lays out how to write a non-fiction book proposal and how to distinguish yourself among agents and editors, agent Carly Watters shares 5 tips for authors, Susan Brooks discusses the importance of genre specific books, and Mary C. Moore talks about titling your manuscript for submission.

Eric Smith has 4 ways to build your platform that have nothing to do with your Twitter following, and Dorit Sasson tells us how to get speaking gigs even when you don’t have a lot of speaking experience.

While offline marketing is important, writers also reach people online. Kristen Lamb discusses how to grow your author blog, Jane Friedman talks about her use of autoresponders in her marketing campaigns, Melissa Flickinger explains why Buffer is the perfect social media manager, and Frances Caballo lists the only 10 social media applications you’ll ever need.


LitHub interviews Farley’s Bookshop. For when you go to a bookstore, Michael Swanwick has a list of fantasy novels that aren’t shelved in the fantasy section.

Chawton House Library has rare novels and plays by women writers from 1600-1830 available online.

Literary figures’ houses can become meccas to writers and readers, but 2 such houses are in danger of disappearing. Thomas Mann’s Los Angeles “magic villa” is up for sale and in danger of demolition, as its agent has “a hard time imagining that any potential buyers would be interested in its history,” and the battle continues to save Langston Hughes’ $3 million home in Harlem.

Take the quiz: can you tell the difference between Edith Wharton and Henry James’ writing styles?

Famed writer E.B. White expounds on white and brown eggs.

Jane Austen finished writing Persuasion on August 6, 1816—and here’s a page of the manuscript.

Hunter S. Thompson’s widow returns the antlers Thompson stole from Hemingway’s estate.

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


Posted by: Kerry Gans | August 23, 2016

The Longhand Revision Experiment

Veritas Cover ArtLike many writers, I have more than one Work-In-Progress (WIP) at any time. I have sent out one WIP to beta readers, and I have FINALLY gotten back to my revision WIP, Veritas. I had not worked on Veritas since June 28th, which gave me all sorts of angst. But this past week I was able to revise 4,878 words—4 chapters.

One reason not being able to work on Veritas was eating at me was because I was in a pivotal point in my writing process. I mentioned that I have returned to writing longhand at certain points in my process. I began doing that last year, when I realized that I could not revise deeply on the screen—and the first chapter I revised longhand was Chapter 51 of Veritas. I revised in that manner to the end of the book, then started at the beginning. And where was I in the revision when everything ground to a halt in June?

Chapter 50. One chapter away from closing the loop.

This revision has been slow, as I expected. After all, some chapters I was writing longhand almost from scratch. Other chapters I would write longhand just the sections of the chapter that really needed more depth added. Still, it’s a long process when you’re dealing with an entire novel.

But this week, I closed the gap. And now that I am back into the section I already revised longhand, I can see that I will be faster from here to the end. Sure, there’s still places I need to fix, but I think they are all fixes I feel I can do on-screen.

Handwritten page blurredMy experiment into revising longhand has been a success. I see more depth, more creativity in word choice, more subtle character development, and a distinct change in my writing style. I still have to figure out at what point I want to use longhand when I start novels from scratch, but I will definitely use it.

What tricks have you learned that help you with the revision process? And if you use longhand, where in your process do you use it?



Posted by: J. Thomas Ross | August 18, 2016

Top Picks Thursday! For Readers and Writers 08-18-2016

Library in Biltmore House, NC; Top Picks Thursday: The Author Chronicles

Library in Biltmore House, NC

A warm hello and welcome to this week’s Top Picks Thursday! We continue to muddle through a heat wave with so much humidity you can experience a sauna just by walking outside. Good weather to sit in the air conditioning and read a good book, at home or in your local library.

Good news for writers and readers: Erin Blakemore of Smithsonian reports that readers may live longer. So maybe we all ought to get away from the screen more often and pick up a book. Unfortunately, Natasha Onwuemezi reveals that adult library usage has fallen significantly across all age groups. If you haven’t been to your local library in a while, get on over there and see what they have to offer. And then — read, read, read!

If we haven’t yet convinced you that reading is important, Maria Popova presents Neil Gaiman’s thoughts on why we read and what books do for the human experience. Reading is especially important for writers: Emily Harstone looks at why writers need to be readers and author DBC Pierre provides his list of the top 10 books writers should read.


For those getting started on a writing project, C. S. Lakin reveals the secret to generating great ideas for stories, Jami Gold examines story beginnings, and Zoe M. McCarthy details what to put into your story so a great pitch comes out.

The number ten was on the mind of a couple bloggers: Chuck Wendig lists 10 things Stranger Things taught him about storytelling and Roz Morris shares 10 eye-opening tips to add impact to your storytelling.

Do you wonder which genre to choose for your project? Leanne Sowul explains why creativity is essential for all genres and Kate Moretti wonders: does genre dumb it down or make it rain?

To help crime fiction writers, Lucy V. Hay lists 5 crime fiction blunders to avoid and Elaine Viets writes about real vs. fictional justice.

Whatever the genre, the story is built upon characters in conflict. Melissa Donovan discusses creating characters that resonate, Claire Langley-Hawthorne delves into emotional resonance, and Angela the Librarian offers a checklist to help writers make sure your character’s emotions stand out, while Gerald DiPego remind us to create believable characters.

And for more on characters, James Scott Bell illuminates how to describe a character, Janice Hardy warns: don’t let your characters “nod” off, Mary Kole discusses the importance of evolving relationships in a story, and Janice Hardy asks what makes your protagonist heroic?

If you’re stuck on plot, Janice Hardy advises starting at the end and also looks at using internal conflict to create plot.

Another important story element is theme, and blogger K. M. Weiland expounds on the best way to write powerful themes.

Kristen Lamb takes a look at description: the good, the bad, and the just please stop.

For those who have trouble getting to the end, Philip Overby considers how to finish that endless manuscript.

Once your manuscript is finished, you may want to have beta readers and/or critique partners take a look at it. For those using beta readers, Dawn Field lays out how to be a good beta reader, while K. M. Weiland considers how to find the right critique partner and offers a six-step checklist, and Martina Boone zeroes in on how to find and be a good critique partner and mentions guidelines for their critique partner match up, happening this week.

To polish up your manuscript, consider employing an editor. Before sending your manuscript off to the line editor, Rebecca Faith Heyman recommends editorial assessments: finding music in the noise. Maya Rock lists 6 ways to vet freelance editors, and Dario Ciriello discusses copyediting for Indie authors.

Chuck Wendig shares 25 reasons why I stopped reading your book.


The big question: self or traditional publishing? Jami Gold discusses choosing your publishing path. And if you choose to be a hybrid author and use both, Sangeeta Mehta reports on a conversation with Bob Mecoy and Kristin Nelson about literary agents and the hybrid author.

If you’re looking at contracts, Kristine Kathryn Rusch illuminates the agent clause (contracts/dealbreakers) and Susan Spann stresses understanding ebook rights.

Whatever type of publication you choose, publication can be a lengthy process. Sarah Callender contemplates enduring the long road to publication.

Should you take credit for ghost writing or not? Roz Morris considers the ethics of ghost-writing.

For Indie authors, Claire Patel-Campbell provides seven tips to stay (mentally) healthy while you crowdfund your novel and Rochelle Carter sets out five essentials of your author marketing plan.

How’s your social media presence? Caroline Black discusses your online reputation and author brand, John Stevens reveals how to get 10x more blog traffic without spending a dime on advertising, and Anne R. Allen shares 7 tips to help author-bloggers get more blog traffic. Two bloggers feel visuals are vital: Rachel Thompson asserts this is the reason you need to create visuals now and Kimberley Grabas lays out how to build an epic visual strategy for your author brand. Jane Friedman explains why she started using pop-ups on her website and Becca Puglisi illuminates the most neglected resource for reviews: YouTube.


Melissa Donovan ponders Robert Frost’s thoughts about poetry and emotions.

For parents worried about what their children are reading, Kate Milford and Fran Wilde explain how monsters and magic can help kids through tough times.

Jason Daley reports on the Smithsonian’s giant collection of 19th century paper peepshows that allowed children a peep at the past.

Readers pick Scotland’s favorite books. Have you read any of them?

BuzzFeed‘s Jarry Lee has compiled a terrific list of 51 of the most powerful pieces of advice from books.

Although we five chroniclers don’t live close to each other, we do live in the same region — southern and central New Jersey and southeastern Pennsylvania — and we’re going to show our support for libraries by concluding with a photo of a local library for the next several weeks (until we run out of them!) This week, we’ll give a shout out to the Main Branch of the Burlington County Library, located in Westampton, NJ.

Fiction section of the main branch of the Burlington County Library, NJ

Fiction section of the main branch of the Burlington County Library, NJ

That’s it for this week’s Top Picks Thursday. See you next week. And visit your local library!


Posted by: Gwendolyn Huber | August 16, 2016

Flaws, Perfection, and Steady Progress


I performed at Musikfest in Bethlehem this past weekend. It was a solid performance, I admit that, but it wasn’t perfect. Since there’s no better way to improve than to see oneself performing, I had a friend record some of our performance on my phone.

Despite getting a number of compliments (from perfect strangers, not family or friends), when I viewed our performance, all I could focus on was my flaws.

Today, I got an email with another compliment and sent a self deprecating reply only minutes before a friend whose opinion I really respect reread one of my old stories. “This is really good,” he said.

It may not surprise you to know that I found some way to turn that smile upside down.

If I was a character in a book, I could give you the back story of why I do that.  Since I’m not that character, I’ll spare you that and jump past the villain’s evils right to where I understand that I need to focus on my steady progress if I, the hero in this story, am to win the battle.

Posted by: Kerry Gans | August 15, 2016


Joshua and the Arrow Realm ebookWe are thrilled to unveil the trailer for book two in Donna Galanti’s fantasy adventure Lightning Road series,  JOSHUA AND THE ARROW REALM, arriving August 30th. The Midwest Book Review calls book one, JOSHUA AND THE LIGHTNING ROAD, “a heart-pounding thrill ride full of unexpected twists and turns from start to finish.”  Grab book one for just $.99cents now through September 20th.

Be sure to enter the fun giveaway package at the bottom of this post that includes a paperback of book one, poster of the Lost Realm, bookmarks, and a $25 B&N gift card (U.S. only). Sign up for Donna’s Thunderclap book release campaign and help her zap the world through social media with her lightning message!


On August 30th take the lightning road back to a world of beasts, bandits, and heroes in book two of the Lightning Road series. Join Joshua in a new fight for power in the Arrow Realm. Can Joshua and his friends conquer an unstoppable evil?

Joshua never thought he’d return to the world of Nostos but is soon called to the Arrow Realm to free his imprisoned friend, King Apollo, kidnapped as a power pawn in Queen Artemis’s quest to conquer every realm. With his loyalties divided between our world and theirs, Joshua wonders whether he alone can restore magic to the twelve powerless Olympian heirs and save all those enslaved. But when he finds himself abandoned in his quest, he fears he cannot only save those imprisoned—but himself as well.

“Fast-paced and endlessly inventive, Joshua and the Arrow Realm is a high-stakes romp through a wild world where descendants of the Greek gods walk beside you, beasts abound, and not everything—or everyone—is as it seems.” ~ Michael Northrop, New York Times bestselling author of the TombQuest series




A faint rumble groaned through the whistling wind.


Thunder ripped the sky overhead.

Charlie reached the frozen pond, spinning across it. “Woohoo! I win! You Americans can’t beat us at speed!”

Lightning flashed. It zinged across the pine trees like brilliant sunlight. A seed of terror flickered inside me.

Boom! Boom!

Another flash scorched the sky.

Charlie’s smile fell to a frown as he raced across the ice, peering up into the swirling clouds.

We both knew what lightning could do.

Suddenly, sneaking outside for a moonlit sled ride before Bo Chez got home from his monthly poker game didn’t seem so smart.

The sleet turned to snow. Icicles flew off trees like glass splinters, shattering on the hard snow. As I shot toward the pond, a tree on the edge moved. Its branches swayed in the swirling snow.

It wasn’t a tree, but a girl! She stumbled through the mad flurry, arms outstretched.

“Charlie, look!”

Gusts snatched the words away as my sled hit the ice and careened out of control on the bumpy surface. The girl staggered and fell onto the pond. I twisted my sled away to avoid hitting her and smashed right into Charlie. With a yelp, he pulled me up, and we clumped toward the girl. We lifted her up, half dragging her back up the hill to the house in the pelting snow and sleet.

“Who is she?” Charlie yelled.

“No idea,” I yelled back.

He said more, but his words were lost in the wind.

My lungs burned with the cold and effort. There was only one reason someone would appear with lightning—to steal us. This girl might appear like a waif unprepared for a storm but I couldn’t trust that’s all she was.



Barnes & Noble:


Donna Galanti is the author of The Element Trilogy (Imajin Books) and The Lightning Road series (Month9Books). She attended an English school housed in a magical castle, where her wild imagination was held back only by her itchy uniform (bowler hat and tie included!). There she fell in love with the worlds of C.S. Lewis and Roald Dahl, and wrote her first fantasy about Dodo birds, wizards, and a flying ship. She’s lived in other exotic locations, including Hawaii where she served as a U.S. Navy photographer. She lives with her family and two crazy cats in an old farmhouse, and dreams of returning one day to a castle. Donna is a contributing editor for International Thriller Writers the Big Thrill magazine and blogs with other middle grade authors at Project Middle Grade Mayhem. You can find her at


E-book ARCs are available for this next thrilling book in The Lightning Road series! Email donna(at) for copies and specify the format you’d like.


Go HERE to enter the awesome Giveaway, which includes a paperback of book one, poster of the Lost Realm, bookmarks, and a $25 B&N gift card (U.S. only).


Posted by: Kerry Gans | August 11, 2016

Top Picks Thursday! For Readers and Writers 08-11-2016

20160810_141750_resizedWelcome to today’s Top Picks Thursday! We are in another heat wave here now, as August grinds on.

Since we are in the midst of the 2016 Olympic Games, Joanna Penn lists 10 things the Olympics can teach writers.

Jo Eberhardt finds some shocking results when she examines the problem with female protagonists.

Judith Briles discusses how to find and handle the pirate in our literary midst.

Mirror World Publishing explains why writers should also be readers—not the least reason is because at least one study says people who read books live longer.


Martina Boone discusses Pitch Wars and the new Crit Partner Match Up.

You may find agents or critique partners in the link above, but Savvy Book Writers says book lovers can be found here.

All novels start with an idea. Janice Hardy explores where to find ideas for your novel.

Writers all want their books to be compelling and absorbing, but we can take revision too far. Kristen Lamb wonders if perfectionism is killing your success, while Sacha Black shows how to give your readers a book hangover in 3 easy steps.

Some of the smaller craft elements can make a huge difference in the readability of your book. Janice Hardy looks at what Stranger Things can teach us about flashbacks, Alycia W. Morales discusses transitions, Margie Lawson shows how to add subtext with dialogue cues, and James Scott Bell tells us the most important tip about setting descriptions.

Zoe M. McCarthy lists 10 writing mistakes that give readers heartburn, and Jordan Dane has vital craft lessons for every writer.

Writers have their own reasons why they write, but we all agree writing is important. K.M. Weiland gathered 15 more reasons writing is important—in your own words, Louise Miller shares 13 lessons she learned in the kitchen that made her a better writer, and Mark Alpert explores the benefits of adversity.

Nellie Hermann delves into how much of themselves authors put into their fiction, while Melissa Donovan examines the often-uneasy intersection of creative writing, art, and commerce.


Thad McIlroy examines what the Big 5 financial reports reveal about the state of traditional book publishing.

Many writers swear by their newsletters as a marketing tool. Jami Gold discusses your newsletter plan, and Phil Teague lays out a quick start guide to using MailChimp.

Aside from newsletters, there are other avenues to reaching readers. Angela Ackerman tells us how to find and reach influencers to help promote your book, and Penny Sansevieri discusses the power of Instagram.

Social media sites seem to change their rules all the time, which can be frustrating for authors. Chris Syme shares 3 Facebook changes you need to know about, and Michael Kozlowski has the new Amazon book review policies.


We’re big library fans here at the Author Chronicles. Chris Weller brings us the most beautiful library in each of the 50 states.

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


Posted by: Matt Q. McGovern | August 9, 2016

Some library resources to see

I was recently searching for programming libraries (computer code libraries) for work and was happily distracted from my task when I came across the following site. “The Programming Librarian, a website of the American Library Association Public Programs Office.”

The site is for librarians, but I think you will enjoy it if you’re a teacher, community organizer, a parent looking to find (ideas for) activities for children, or just someone interested in finding neat things to do, etc.

Seeing that site influenced the rest of this blog which turned into a public service announcement.😉

I started with a few internet searches and found many organized events in my home town. Activities like these are going on all the time, but it’s good to be reminded of what people are doing. And of course I love the fact that I found it via a library resource. “Finding it at the library” is an expression that I will never tire of.

For convenience, here are some of the links I came across which may prove helpful to anyone interested in seeing what’s new with libraries. These resources are growing and developing all the time. This is for Philadelphia, my home town, though I was originally thinking of a more national website. I haven’t gone through this site yet but it’s a great find. The library servers of the world. “Over 8000 pages from libraries from 146 countries.” Another worldly site. “WorldCat connects you to the collections and services of more than 10,000 libraries worldwide.” The search box on the home page looks powerful and merits further exploration (I’m the developer of our search engine at work). I also noticed that there’s a mobile app which I may have to investigate as well. The mobile app for the American Library Association. While it’s for the ALA, it says that all library card carrying members can use it. What I noticed is that it’s available on iPhone, Android, Kindle (nice!), AND Windows Phone. Handling all platforms is impressive.

Lastly, here’s a site showing mobile apps from the Library of Congress you may find interesting.


Posted by: Kerry Gans | August 4, 2016

Top Picks Thursday! For Readers and Writers 08-04-2016

20160803_104451Welcome to the first Top Picks Thursday of August! The dog days of summer are upon us. Stay cool and let your muse take a vacation if necessary.

James Alan McPherson, the first black writer to win the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, died at age 72.

Literary prizes bring prestige and change authors’ lives: The 2016 Man Booker Prize longlist, Viet Thanh Nguyen’s essay on the aftermath of his Pulitzer Prize, and Civil Rights legend John Lewis wins a major comic book award.

We all know that reading is essential to doing well in school—but some kids don’t like to read. K.J. Dell’Antonia describes the right way to bribe your kids to read. Science proves that reading fiction also makes you a better person, says Kristian Wilson.

Many readers get books from the library. Librarian Theresa Quill discusses how the profession has changed, and Emily Matchar looks at the future of libraries.

Kayla Whaley examines wheelchair users in fiction and the single narrative surrounding them.


Rachel Cooke talks to Ann Goldstein, Deborah Smith, and other literary translators on why and how they translate.

Ever wonder if your book is the right length? Not just for genre, but should your novel be a novella or vice versa? Ruth Harris delves into how to know what length your book should be.

Your plot has to be compelling and strong to keep readers engaged. Janice Hardy shows how to keep readers hooked through story revelations, Carola Dunn discusses how mysteries have multiple antagonistic forces to keep readers guessing, Bridget McNulty has 7 tips to plot a successful novel, and C.S. Lakin demonstrates how to layer a subplot into the novel.

Sometimes writers create shocking scenes as we write. In editing, though, we need to ask the question Jami Gold ponders: When is a shocking scene necessary vs. gratuitous?. Other issues to consider in editing are making sure you use the five senses to bring your story to life (from Sandra Havriluk), and cutting these 43 words immediately (from Diana Urban).

At times, characters come to us full-formed, sometimes they remain a mystery far into the writing process. Clare Langley-Hawthorne examines using unreliable narrators, and Barbara O’Neal explores the bedrock of character development. Dialogue can also help delineate a character. Joni Fisher delves into dialogue and subtext, while Ali Luke looks at representing unorthodox forms of speech on the page.

Every writer has sometimes felt like a fraud. Jami Gold discusses imposter syndrome and how to deal with it. Meanwhile, Jane Lebak shows how not to crush someone’s writing dream when giving feedback.

Writers want to know how to be more productive and improve our writing. Adam Rogers tells us how to become a more productive writer, Daniel Scocco compiles 34 writing tips that will make you a better writer, Jeff Goins shares 7 things professional writers know that amateurs don’t, Sage Cohen has 2 keys to unlock your writing momentum, Jessica Strawser lists 5 tips to keep writing when life gets in the way, and Jody Hedlund wonders: Is saying “I’m too busy?” just an excuse?

BookRiot’s Rincey looks at nontraditional writing styles, Lily Gurton-Wachter finds a writing niche waiting to be filled in the lack of literature about pregnancy and childbirth, and Marissa Martinelli breaks down how Pixar uses music to make you weep uncontrollably.

Liz Michalski laments that waiting is one of the hardest parts of the writing game, and Heather Webb discusses when you feel like you’re treading water in publishing.


How all the changes in book publishing and distribution will shake out is still a gray area. Glenn Fleishman comments on the “small, but noticeable, sustained, and continuous” resurgence of indie bookstores, publishing execs start a new imprint for licensed craft titles aimed at tweens, and Jenny Pierson reflects on the sorry statement J.K. Rowling’s rejection letters make about the future of book publishing.

Janet Reid answers the age-old question: When pasting pages AND a synopsis, should the synopsis go before or after the pages?

Many writers freeze up when we talk of marketing. Beth Bacon shares 11 ways to overcome marketing dread, Debbie Young shares some more book marketing shots in the dark, and Heather Webb lays out 10 steps to a successful book launch.

In case you are still wondering, Jane Friedman defines author platform for both nonfiction and fiction, and Susan Stilwell shares 3 can’t-miss tips for steady platform growth.

While many of us depend on social media to interact with our readers, Kristen Lamb shows us how to break social media dependence and create an enduring author brand. Meanwhile, Frances Caballo reveals just what social media analytics can tell us about our audiences and explores if authors need a Facebook Page, and Kate Tilton explains why we should try these 2 Goodreads features.


In an amazing find, a New York man finds enslaved ancestors bill of sale from 226 years ago.

Always wanted a reading space, but have no window seat? Julia Seales has 10 ways to create a reading nook when you don’t have a window seat.

Geoff Dyer expounds on a picture that captures why Jack Kerouac will last forever.

Looking for a gift for a bookish friend? Clarie de Louraille and April Salud share 21 book pins (jewelry) for people who love to read.

While John Adams was in Philadelphia in 1776, Abigail Adams wrote this letter to him with news of having their children (and herself) inoculated against smallpox.

For the grammar punsters among us, Erin La Rosa lists 17 corny grammar jokes.

Nathaniel Hawthorne’s story about the Fountain of Youth was populated with veiled versions of real people from the English theater.

So cool! If you want to take a peek at historical London, tour the London of yore with a gigantic new photo map.

Have you always longed to know more or understand more about the Canterbury Tales? Take a look at the Open Access Companion to the Canterbury Tales, which contains many essays to demystify the Canterbury Tales.

Just for fun: What Shakespeare character are you? I was Ophelia. That did not inspire confidence in my future.

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






Posted by: Nancy Keim Comley | August 3, 2016

In Sickness and in Health

For the past couple of weeks I have had a cold. Actually, two colds back to back. Usually I’m a healthy person I am a terrible patient that moans and feels sorry for herself until my family orders me to bed. Probably so they don’t have to listen to me anymore.

I have been prescribed cough medicine laced with codeine that works beautifully in the ‘not coughing’ department. However, anything else I’ve tried to do that requires mental effort, such as reading, writing, holding a conversation or brushing my teeth effectively doesn’t work. This leads me to a pointless but fascinating question: how the heck did so many writers write anything when they were sozzed to the gills?

Seriously, how? During my enforced down time I looked up a couple of infamous drinkers and I’m astonished how they could come up with beautiful prose while either drunk or hung over.

As I continued to read biography after biography I learned of lives cut short, personal and family despair, talent going to waste. These authors’ histories are so sad I’m uncomfortable naming them. Who am I to comment on another’s anguish? So as I get better I’ll take my medicine, be grateful that my cold will end and once again I’ll feel as though my brain and I are on speaking terms.

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