Posted by: Kerry Gans | October 27, 2016

Top Picks Thursday! For Readers & Writers 10-27-2016

Posted by: Nancy Keim Comley | October 26, 2016

Fan Fiction, Folklore, and Fellowship

I should probably start this post with a disclaimer that goes something like: “I’m a folklorist and a mom thus I love the idea of fan fiction.”

Let me explain. As a folklorist I am interested in how people interact with the world. How do they fit themselves into our world? What groups do they create or join? For instance, me writing this blog and those reading this blog are a folk group, i.e. we have a shared interest. To name a few other folk groups I belong to: writers, moms, wives, readers, Quakers, fanatical audio book listeners and the absent minded.

How do you know if you are part of a folk group? Talk to someone about something that is really important to you; something that you feel defines you. Say you’re an accountant who loves reading romance novels (i.e. you are in the accountancy folk group and the romance novel readers folk group). At a party you mention accountancy to a new acquaintance and get nothing more than a polite smile. Then you mention the latest book you’ve read and a connection is made, you and your new friend have a shared passion. They may not be part of the accountancy folk group but they are part of the romance readers group.

What if you love a book so much you want to write stories from within that world, like Cath in Rainbow Rowell’s fantastic book FANGIRL? What if you are a Star Wars fan? Or Star Trek fan? That’s where fan fiction comes in; it’s when people write fiction from within their favorite world be it book, TV, movie or other.

I know I’ve written before about how I was fascinated and delighted when my children were small and loved a book so much they slept on it, hugged it and occasionally tried to eat it. I think fan fiction is the same way; a world that is so loved a person wants to manipulate it and make it their own. They want to be a part of that world, of that folk group.

Recently my daughter mentioned that there was some Formula 1 fan fiction that she loved but couldn’t get anyone else to read and she really wanted someone to talk to about it. Since I’d read the side of a cereal box if it helped me talk to one of my children I said I’d give it a go. Not sure what to expect, I followed the link she sent and started.

It was a hoot – the writer had reimagined the teams as families and the drivers as superheroes. There was no racing, which I found surprising because it was based on Formula 1, after all, but I got caught up in the family dynamics and really enjoyed the story. Along with my daughter I am now an enthusiastic (and currently only other) member of the Formula 1 fan fiction folk group. I enjoyed my time in the new world and hope to read some again soon.

In these days where it feels so much is driving people apart sometimes it’s comforting to look around and see that there are people creating and sharing.

Posted by: Kerry Gans | October 20, 2016

Top Picks Thursday! For Readers & Writers 10-20-2016


Moorestown Library Game Table

Welcome to this week’s Top Picks Thursday! We’re having a bit of a heat wave in our neck of the woods, so I hope we return to fall temperatures soon.

Powerhouse author John Green talks about his struggles with mental illness and creativity, and the dangers of romanticizing mental illness as a conduit to art.

Musician Bob Dylan won the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature, and a lot of people had opinions on that. David C. Ward asked if Bob Dylan was a poet, Erin Blakemore listed 5 things we need to know about Bob Dylan, and Hanson O’Haver insists that Bob Dylan does not need a Nobel Prize. Meanwhile, Christian Lorentzen examines how Nobel Prizes are nominated, narrowed down, and selected.

Joyce Carol Oates ruminates on Shirley Jackson’s life and work.

Elena Ferrante’s translator Ann Goldstein calls her outing “totally unnecessary.” Ivan Kreilkamp reminds us that a “clever man” outing a female writer is not a new story.

Check out the SCBWI 2016 Work-In-Progress Grant winners and the Karen Cushman Late Bloomer Award winner.

Censorship is not acceptable, but when librarians are silenced the reverberations can be felt far and wide.


Kristen Lamb expounds on what it takes to be a real writer.

Roz Morris discusses the pros and cons of whether a writer should fictionalize a personal story or not.


Moorestown Library Reading Area

There are so many elements to keep in mind when we write. Becca Puglisi explores the macro elements by examining the 3 kinds of story arc, Mary Kole tackles structure looking at the mushy middle caused by a character information seeking, and Michael McDonagh tells us the truth about adverbs.

Characters are the heart of most stories. Terri Reed tells us 9 ways to develop story characters, while Emily Asher-Perrin, Leah Schnelbach, Molly Templeton, and Natalie Zutter examine 6 different ways sci-fi/fantasy characters avoid traditional school.

When we’re done writing, it’s time to revise. Mary Kole shows us how we can know whether what we have is worth revising, or if we should just give up.

Creativity and stress-management are important to writers. Roni Loren shares her perspective on meditation for the skeptical and her new relationship with deadlines, and Kristin Wong has the best productivity habits of famous writers.



Moorestown Library Children’s Area

Writers need to be able to pitch our stories at all stages of creation. Judith Briles asks if you have your perfect pitch, Janet Reid reminds us to have a synopsis ready BEFORE we query, and Kristen Lamb tells us why we need a synopsis before we start writing (and how to write a good one).

Marketing has many different avenues. Martha Conway warns us of pitfalls with Facebook ads, Anne R. Allen examines the new Amazon review policy for author red flags, and Jane Friedman shares 5 questions to ask ourselves before we decide to write something for free.

We hear a great deal about branding ourselves these days. Drew Chial examines how branding can help and hinder your writing.



Moorestown Library Stacks

Oxford University Press and The Reader are teaming up to bring classics to those who need them most, and discuss what the classics do for you.

Before you reach for the stars, you have to believe you can get there. Ryan P. Smith examines how artists, mad scientists, and speculative fiction writers made spaceflight possible.

If you love bookstores, thank James Lackington, the man who invented book selling as we know it.

David Snowdon explores the odd relationship of poet Lord Byron with boxing.

At the Congressional Cemetery in Washington, DC, there’s a headstone like a card catalogue entry. That’s one dedicated librarian.

Most of us laugh and enjoy the names Charles Dickens gave his characters. Bryan Kozlowski goes deeper to reveal what Victorian readers would  have understood about those names that we are missing as he deciphers 10 Dickensian character names.

Ever wonder how long it took to write the world’s most famous books? Printerinks has the answer in one handy infographic.

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 Moorestown Library, in Moorestown, NJ.


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




Posted by: Kerry Gans | October 18, 2016

The Selling Season

I am still fairly new to this published author business. My book, THE WITCH OF ZAL, has not been out quite a year yet, and in many ways I am still finding my feet.

20161001_100930_1475356500972_resizedMarketing is not something that comes naturally to me. While I do not subscribe to the “if-I-write-it-they-will-come” theory or think people owe me something because I wrote a book, I find it very difficult to put my introverted self out there and try to get people’s attention. I mean, I have spent a lifetime honing skills to avoid being the center of attention. Still, it must be done if I am to make a go of this publishing thing.

I have found, in this year, that there seems to be a “selling season.” Perhaps this is unique to children’s books, as our target audience is scattered far and wide in the summer season. All I know is that I spent very little time doing live marketing events (I still did online things) over the summer. That my own child was home with me during the summer might also account for this drop in live events—in fact, the only live event I did over the summer was a workshop at her summer camp.

Then came school time. Suddenly, my calendar filled. An Author Expo in Ocean City, a table at Eastampton Fun Day, Collingswood Book Festival, and Vineland’s Indie Author Day all followed one on top of the other. Up next is River Reads on October 23rd, then part of a group event at Open Book in Elkins Park, a table at the NJ Association for School Librarians conference, and an author panel (my first!) at my high school alma mater. Whew!


I haven’t even done any school visits yet. I have programs ready, but I have not yet had the courage to set them up. I know that when I do it will be fine, and that once I get the first one under my belt the rest will come easier. But as an introvert with anxiety disorder, I need to wade in rather than jump in the deep end. I feel I am finally finding my feet with the type of author appearances I have been doing, and so school visits will be next on my checklist.

And again, they will be during the school year.

So tell me, is there really a “selling season,” or is my perception skewed because this is my first full year? Or does it vary depending on genre and audience age?


Posted by: Kerry Gans | October 13, 2016

Top Picks Thursday! For Readers & Writers 10-13-2016

Parent-Toddler area at Vineland Library

Parent-Toddler area at Vineland Library

Welcome to this week’s Top Picks Thursday, our weekly roundup of writerly links!

Saturday, October 8th, marked the inaugural Indie Author Day, where libraries gathered self-published authors together for author panels, author showcases, and to chat with readers.

To celebrate the opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the Smithsonian Libraries curated a digital collection of titles related to the African-American experience.

Writers often talk about the fear of failure, but Anne R. Allen gives us 5 signs that we are secretly afraid of publishing success.

One of the fears of success is losing our privacy. Jael McHenry explores the question: do authors owe us their whole selves? and the BBC discusses why the exposure of Elena Ferrante causing such outrage.

How’s this for the prize of a lifetime: a London bookshop offers free books for the rest of your life.

Many people say that nothing like this 2016 election has been seen before, but Shakespeare explained the 2016 election 425 years ago.


All writers have unfinished novels stuck in virtual (or physical) drawers. Janice Hardy tell us how to fix the fatal flaws and finish that novel, while Roz Morris shows how pace and story structure work together to keep the reader gripped.

We can connect with our readers immediately by using questions to engage readers in the first chapter, and Janice Hardy gives us 4 tips for preventing flat descriptions so we don’t lose our readers.

Angela Ackerman explains how your character’s hook—special skill or talent—can elevate your manuscript, and Roz Morris examines how to write emotions and feelings.

What motivates you to get things done? Roni Loren discusses personality types and To-Do Lists.

Some writers are control freaks—and/or anxiety ridden, which makes you want to control things as much as possible. Chuck Wendig gives us good writing (and life) advice: control what you can control.


Amazon Books wants to open a store in Dedham, Massachusetts. The Selectmen approve Amazon Books, but with a condition.

Publishing isn’t cheap, and new models are springing up all the time. Helena Echlin explores the Inkshares crowdfunding model.

In the traditional model, agent Vanessa Robins of Corvisiero Literary is seeking clients.

Chris Syme examines push marketing vs. pull marketing, and talks about which benefits us more.

Much of modern marketing is done online, and there are a lot of options to choose from. Sandra Beckwith tells how to build Amazon searchability for your books, and Frances Caballo experiments with free book promotions to see if they are worth it.

Jami Gold asks: what’s your newsletter plan, while Jane Friedman reminds us of the importance of using a call to action in almost everything we do.


Some of the most loved movies were hated by their book authors. Check out 11 authors who hated the movie versions of their books.

For Georgette Heyer fans, several forgotten Heyer stories are to be republished.

Intriguing. New postage stamps honoring Agatha Christie don’t just celebrate her mysteries—they contain a mystery of their own.

A booklover’s dream: this tiny guesthouse filled with books is the perfect woodsy escape.

Take a look at the adorable new book trains at the New York Public Library.

Natasha Geiling rounds up 9 theories about the (still) mysterious death of Edgar Allen Poe.

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 Vineland Public Library in Vineland, NJ.

vineland-sign vineland-front





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





Posted by: Gwendolyn Huber | October 11, 2016

A Reading Journal’s Value

A reading journal can be a tally and description of books read, including the reader’s feelings and impressions. While I love the idea of this, I’ve discovered I won’t take the time to make those notes in the wee hours of the morning when I finish the book or before rushing off to work the next day.

In the past I found it valuable to write down quotes and passages that spoke to me and notate ideas sparked by the turn of a sentence for future inspiration.

Journaling could also be a method to become a better writer, a place to make notes about what you have learned about your own writing from a book. Knowing you will write about a book encourages close reading, (something that’s always good for me).

As life became busier, I let my writing journals lapse but I’m considering the worth of  taking the time to slow down enough to keep a writing journal, this time as a way to become a better writer.

Posted by: Kerry Gans | October 6, 2016

Top Picks Thursday! For Readers & Writers 10-6-2016

Welcome to the first Top Picks Thursday of October! Fall is most definitely here—we’ve had rain falling for literally a week. The soggy leaves are changing color and the damp breeze is brisk, whisking us ever closer to the spooky festivities of Halloween.

Lee Wind talks about a different type of spooky troll—one-star review trolls. A new kind of censorship is arising, as bigots flood Goodreads with one-star reviews of books they disagree with politically. Chuck Wendig gives his take on the oft-heard advice that writers and artists should never speak out politically.

A powerful voice who did speak out, Langston Hughes’s poem “I, Too” adorns the new National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC, and tells us about America’s past and present.

While Halloween is a time for costumes and pretending, Andy Molinsky tackles a real-life struggle everyone faces—imposter syndrome.

These books are the real deal—the longlists for the 2016 National Book Awards.

In sad news, Chinua Achebe, African literary titan, dies at 82.

Writers love libraries, and Loretta Chase documents the legacy of Andrew Carnegie and his libraries.


While non-fiction is a different animal from fiction, Zoe M. McCarthy shows how we can use novel techniques to spice up our non-fiction writing.

Janice Hardy shows how to stop explaining your story and start showing it, while Namrata Poddar wonders if is “show don’t tell” a universal truth, or a Colonial relic.

When writers start a new fiction piece, sometimes we get stymied because our premise has been done before. Mary Kole explains how to get specific to make a premise fresh,  Jo Eberhardt shares 3 lessons Supernatural taught her about writing authentic characters, and Kristen Lamb explores the two critical elements of all great stories.

K.M. Weiland answers 7 questions writers have about scenes vs. chapters, and Jami Gold discusses how strengthening stakes does not always mean going big.

Janice Hardy gives us a 10-step guide to plotting a practice novel, and Margot Kinberg shows how to maintain suspense in murder mysteries.

Once we’ve written, writers get feedback and revise. Rather than jump in hot, Mary Lindsey advises a cooling off period before diving into critiques.

If the writing is coming hard (or not at all), Nina Amir has 5 unusual ways to generate creativity, while Chuck Wendig tells us how to finish that f-ing book.

All writers have a lot of items on their To-Do Lists, while also trying to improve our writing. Rochelle Melander shows how to juggle multiple tasks and thrive, Angela Ackerman shares a list of craft resources to elevate your writing, Susan Leigh Noble tells us why she writes fantasy, and Erika Robuck reminds us to remember why we started writing in the first place.

Rachel Sharp explains why we can never know or control exactly how our writing will be perceived by the audience, Seth Godin expands on the big fish in a little pond metaphor, and Chuck Wendig says that yes, writing is too a job.


Writers are business people as well as artists these days, and there’s a lot of important minutiae to understand. Kathryn Goldman explains the legalities of pen names and copyright, while David Kudler demystifies the HTML of ebooks.

We’re all looking to market ourselves as best we can. Laura Kaye shares tips to make yourself more promote-able, while Kathryn Craft gives us 7 ways to bring elevated energy to your support team.

Social media is one of the best ways to reach people, so Penny Sansevieri shows us how to make the most of a Goodreads giveaway.


Two of my favorite things put together—books and secret passageways.

Check out the many futuristic predictions of H.G. Wells that came true (and some that didn’t).

A bit late perhaps, but Chaucer Doth Tweet shares advyce for the sesoun of returninge to scole.

The amazing parallels between Jane Austen stories and reality TV.

The manuscript of Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre makes its New York debut.

A new biography of writer Shirley Jackson explores the contradictory roles she occupied: “wife or author, popular genre writer or highbrow novelist, mother or witch.”

A British jail is paying artistic tribute to its most famous inmate—Oscar Wilde.

Can’t get enough Tolkien? Rachel Nuwer brings us The Tolkien Nerd’s Guide to The Hobbit.

Amazing technology now exists to read what was once unreadable. MIT uses radiation to read a closed book, while elsewhere scientists virtually peek inside an ancient, charred, Biblical scroll.

Have you ever seen an antique object and wondered: what was that for? You are not alone. See one man’s quest to solve the mystery of the phantom page-turner.

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 North Castle Public Library in Armonk, NY.


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





Posted by: Kerry Gans | September 29, 2016

Top Picks Thursday! For Readers & Writers 09-29-2016

Sculpture at Doylestown Library

Sculpture at Doylestown Library

Welcome to the last Top Picks Thursday of September! School is in session, fall temperatures have arrived, and Halloween can be seen on the horizon.

For some introverted writers, conferences can be the equivalent of haunted houses where we face our worst fears. Laura Benedict shares an introvert’s guide to writers’ conferences, Victoria Mixon gives us 3 steps to making friends and enemies at writers’ conferences, and Rachael Acks tells us how to talk to writers at parties.


For our non-fiction writers, Tamela Hancock Murray explores two types of non-fiction books.

Beginnings are hard. Laura Drake tells us how to nail that first line, Mary Kole describes how to successfully weave information into later books in a series, and Ruth Harris explores tackling first drafts as plotter, pantser, or somewhere in between.

Once we’ve begun to write, there are a million items we need to handle and polish. Martina Boone shows how to layer your writing to make novel-writing less daunting, Jennie Nash tells us how to master the art of the scene, Zoe M. McCarthy warns against melodrama, and Jodie Renner says it’s all in the verbs.

Sculpture at Doylestown Library

Sculpture at Doylestown Library

While a lot of it may be in the verbs, it’s in the characters, too. K.M. Weiland says that to be a gutsy writer you need to be true to you characters, and Ron Estrada shows us how to write your middle grade character.

Revising and editing can make your work shine—or it can suck all the life out of your work. Jane Lebak explains why you shouldn’t keep revising the same story ad nauseum, Cathey Presland lists the 10 worst self-editing mistakes that writers make and how to avoid them, and Janice Hardy tells us how to know if your novel is ready to submit.

Two of the hardest issues for a writer to master are productivity and perseverance. Jami Gold discusses productivity styles and increasing productivity, and Rachel Giesel gives us 5 ways to stick with your novel when you feel like giving up.

Writers struggle with other non-craft decisions as well. Jami Gold looks at the writer goal of quitting the evil day job, and Marcy Kennedy asks: do you need a pen name?


Sometimes it’s helpful to step back and look at the bigger picture of publishing. Jane Friedman shares her Publishing Industry 2016 Status Update, and James Scott Bell tells us what writers need to know about the publishing industry today.

Agent Sharon Pelletier gives us query FAQs.

Doylestown Library

Doylestown Library

If you’ve got a book near launch, Andrea Dunlop lists 5 questions to ask when you’re getting ready to launch a book, and Rob Eager discusses how publishers can cure “ugly sample syndrome.

The internet is a great way to connect with our readers. Kirsten Oliphant explains how to leverage someone else’s platform, and Adam Connell reveals the 5 pillars of rapid email list growth.

Twitter can be a powerful tool in social media. Jeri Baird explores the perks and pitfalls of Twitter pitches, Savvy Book Writers tell how to get it right on Twitter, and Ash Read shows us the changes to Twitter.


When you don’t know how to decorate a room, you can’t go wrong with a well-stocked bookshelf.

Browse through the manuscript of “To Autumn” by John Keats.

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 Doylestown Library.

Doylestown Library and Sculpture Garden

Doylestown Library and Sculpture Garden

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



Posted by: Matt Q. McGovern | September 27, 2016

Rough draft for house projects

I’ve been in my house for almost ten months now, and recently came into a situation during house projects that required some good writing advice to get me through.

I had been trying to finish up the office, making it into a study as much as possible, and ran into an aggravating obstacle during painting. I was trying to paint the bookshelves a dark brown, when I realized (too late) that I should have put some sort of primer on them first. The surface of the bookshelves were made of some oily substance that would not absorb the brown paint I was applying to it. You can imagine the scene that I admit is comical to me now: me painting the same spot over and over, looking at it, painting it again, cursing at it, then getting messy with the paint.

I had assumed that the bookshelves would be the easiest of the projects and had planned much more to get done at that time. My saving moment of sanity was the thought that I should just get through a rough, first coat, and just concede that I would have to make several coats. It was difficult to adhere to this strategy, because my inclination was to paint it until I covered the old color. I just kept saying to myself, “go into rough draft mode and keep moving.”

I can’t get rid of frustration quickly, even though I saw that a decent amount of paint was staying on the shelves. The fact was that I didn’t know if two coats would be enough, and if I needed to add a sealant afterwards, etc. Still, the fact that I thought to myself the words “rough draft” more than “first coat” was telling.

As I settled down and finished the rest of the shelves (there are six sets of shelves), I thought of how the rough draft strategy would apply to the rest of the house, considering that I usually like to do things all at once, and as such, don’t always get things done as much as I’d like.

At this time, the shelves in the study are done and the books are on them. The books aren’t perfectly arranged, because I think that if I were going to do that I’d still be doing them now. As it is, by going with a “just get them on the shelves and out of the boxes” strategy, I got more done in the room overall. I satisfied myself with the thought of rearranging books in my study would be a nice project for an autumn or wintry day (after all my house projects are done).

Get into rough draft mode. Not just for writing.🙂

Posted by: Kerry Gans | September 22, 2016

Top Picks Thursday! For Readers and Writers 09-22-2016

Welcome to this week’s Top Picks Thursday! The last of the heat waves have passed, and now fall is upon us—which also means book award time!

Check out the National Book Award Long List nominees and the Man Booker Prize Short List.

Some literary lights have gone out this week: playwright Edward Albee dies at 88, and author W.P. Kinsella dies at 81.

This week would have marked Roald Dahl’s 100th birthday.

The controversy of the week concerns Lionel Shriver’s speech about cultural appropriation. Author Suki Kim discusses the situation eloquently, and Yassmin Abdel-Magied explains why she walked out of the speech.

As Viet Thanh Nguyen reminds us, to have true diversity in the literary industry—or any industry—the powerbrokers, gatekeepers, and owners need to be diverse.

If you know anyone who thinks public libraries are no longer relevant, point them to this article: Pew Research shows that public libraries remain vital to communities.

Tim Vernimmen examines where creativity comes from.

As writers, we often are asked why we write. Roz Morris discusses the question: is your writing a hobby, an art, a business, a vocation, or a profession? (Hint: there’s no single right answer).


With October just around the corner, deadlines for spooky stories are popping up. Ross MacKenzie shares 5 tips for writing scary stories.

When writing any story, we have to get the story elements balanced and make them carry their weight. Jami Gold tells us when backstory is necessary, and Margie Lawson explains how to finesse backstory.

Angela Ackerman discusses the storyteller’s Swiss Army knife—setting, and Alex Bledsoe gives 5 practical tips for worldbuilding.

Almost every story has a plot, and plot comes with its own elements and conventions to deal with. Melissa Donovan defines plot, Zoe M. McCarthy describes the role the inciting incident plays in both plot and character, and Brian DeLeonard takes a look at rebooting “the chosen one” trope.

Character seems to have been on a lot of people’s minds this week—hardly a surprise given how vital characters are to a successful story. Martina Boone reminds us that all stories are character driven, Kim English shows how to make characters round, and John Thornton Williams explores interiority of character utilizing indirection of image.

David King advises to give your characters roots, Becca Puglisi explores what’s in a character’s name, and K.M. Weiland shares the secret to writing dynamic characters.

Alex Limberg explains how body language can add depth to your fiction, Lee Wind reveals what to call different groups of people, and Sacha Black delves into the 6 most sinister villain personalities.

When we’ve got that first draft in the bag, we need to revise to make it amazing. Janice Hardy looks at the different types of revisions you may be facing (and how to handle each one), Mark Nichols examines 5 types of punctuation problems, Susan Brooks talks about the importance and knowing your genre, and Jami Gold has guidelines for balancing all the elements of your story.

Ursula K. Le Guin discusses her first attempt at a novel, and Catherine Ryan Howard explores why people refuse to believe that your fiction is exactly that—fiction, and not based on your life.

Nancy L. Erickson shows how dedicated reading time can improve your writing, Larry Brooks talks about the importance of craft, and James Scott Bell warns us never to assume we don’t need more improvement.


Amy Collins brings us the latest news on Barnes & Noble concept stores, Pew Research authors can use, and the rise of self-published books on the USA Today Bestseller lists.

Caleb Mason posits that the future of book publishing is all about scale.

Andrew Liptak reports that orders for comics have hit a 20-year high.

Since people DO judge a book by its cover, Diana Urban rounds up 19 fantastic book cover design resources.

Does having to find comp titles make you crazy? You are not alone. Agent Janet Reid talks about comp titles and keeping your sanity. If you are searching for an agent, new agent Jess Dallow of Rebecca Friedman Literary Agency seeks YA and adult fiction writers.

Marketing is something all writers must deal with. Amazon reviews are a must for a book to be successful, and Cate Baum goes over what is and is not allowed in Amazon book reviews, while Rachel Straub shows how she tackled Amazon’s Top Reviewer list.

One way to get reviews is to mobilize any and all publicity avenues to get the word out about your book. Robert Wilder discusses the power of pods, and getting friends to lead mini-brigades for you, and Debbie Young examines outside-the-box ways to sell your self-published books.

The online world is where much of our author outreach happens. Kristen Lamb explores if Facebook sells books and if writers need an author page, while Anne R. Allen shares 5 things authors should never do when email marketing.


Check out these 16 book covers that match New York Fashion Week styles (some matches are amazing!)

Know your words? Take the 4-minute vocabulary test, learn these 28 underused English words, and try to pass this punctuation and capitalization quiz.

Speaking of vocabulary, look at how the Oxford English Dictionary chooses new words.

Ever have a time in your life when you just don’t want to read? Sharanya Sharma explains why it’s okay to be in a reading slump.

For Mary Stewart fans, a newly uncovered novella has been published.

You can find almost anything in the New York Public Library, including every issue of The New York Times (first published September 18, 1851) and the Library’s radical zine collection.

If you vacation in the British Isles, you can spend time following one of these famous British authors’ trails.

If you want the literary cachet but not the travel, you could own F. Scot Fitzgerald’s house.

Rumaan Alam rounds up the great rooms in children’s literature, and Patrick Smith has 17 funny and thoughtful books for children under 5.

Victoria Dawson examines the significance of Nat Turner’s Bible in his rebellion.

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 Ocean City Free Public Library, in Ocean City, NJ.

Amazing murals in the Children's area at Ocean City Library

Amazing murals in the Children’s area at Ocean City Library

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





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