Posted by: Kerry Gans | October 11, 2012

Top Picks Thursday 10-11-2012

The 2012 National Book Award Finalists have been announced, and the Nobel Prize for Literature has been awarded to 57-year-old Chinese author Mo Yan, the first Chinese resident to win the award, whose pen name means “don’t speak.”

As we mentioned last week, author Tom Piccirilli is fighting for his life. Not there are now FIVE ways you can help him and his family.

As part of National Bullying Prevention Week, authors speak out against bullying.

Are you near Nolensville, TN (SE of Nashville)? Shop at this local bookstore—teenager Trent Crowthers opened the bookstore to pay for college.

If you’re in Claymont, Delaware October 13, be sure to check out Lucas Mangum’s Awesome Reading Fest VIII at Between Books.

Brenda Drake is hosting an elevator pitch contest. Check it out!

If you read YA, come fill out the 2012 YA Readers Survey on TeenReads. You don’t have to be a teen, just a YA reader—come and opine!

In librarianship, much like in life, there are good moments and bad moments. Here’s a good moment proving that kids really do still read. And here’s an interesting post on the difference between choice and censorship.

In honor of the spooky month of October, Novel Novice brings us a list of haunted reads for middle grade.


To celebrate National Punctuation Day (apparently it was September 24th), Jen Doll gives us some writers’ favorite punctuation marks. Adrienne Crezo, meanwhile, shows us 13 little-known punctuation marks.

Punctuation is tied to grammar, of course. Amanda Patterson brings us her 15 favorite grammar quotes from authors, while Edittorent helps the sentence-challenged among us by showing how to wrangle long sentences, untangle even longer sentences, and prioritize prepositions.

Openings are always hard to write. For inspiration, read the beginnings of 10 timeless YA and MG books and see how their authors did it.

You can’t build a good story on a shaky idea, so Martina Boone gives us 6 tests to find out if your story premise is solid. Kristen Lamb agrees, adding her thoughts on testing your idea to see if it can carry a novel, and how to nail your log-line and core idea.

When you’re writing, Lynne Kelly suggests making an actual map of your story setting to keep character movement believable; and Joe Bunting says no matter what, do not stop writing in the ugly middle—it will all come together if you persevere.

K.M. Weiland highlights a common writing mistake: building up reader expectation…and then skipping over the best part. Erin Feldman shows how to build anticipation in your audience; and Janice Hardy explains how using secrets can raise the tension and conflict in a scene.

Caris Roane/Valerie King outlines plot-drives—actions that drive the plot forward and how to layer them into each scene; Becky Gaylord shares 5 fool-proof keys to powerful, precise writing; Natalie Lakosil compares showing vs. telling to a doctor-patient interaction; and John Maguire insists that the secret to good writing is to write about objects, not ideas.

Ash Krafton conquers the cliché; and the Bookshelf Muse’s Angela Ackerman explores how to use physical attributes like knees to convey much more than a visual image (the Bookshelf Muse is also a great resource for finding non-cliché ways of describing everything from emotions to scenery).

Writing is emotional, and we writers bring a lot of ourselves to the words on the page. Linda Wisniewski shares how to be brave when writing your memoir. Nathan Bransford explores writing as catharsis, while Carolyn Kaufman explains how to use life’s disasters in our writing. Dr. Noa Kageyama examines how we gain hope through the stories of others, and Stephanie Burgis writes about how her literary heroes helped her through her darkest moments.

The realities of the writing life are often a surprise to new writers. Erin Healy describes the tensions of juggling writing and the rest of life; Debra Dean shares her long journey to success; Kathryn Craft takes us along on her countdown to her debut book’s publication; Kim Curran tells us 10 things NOT to do to get a book deal; and author/illustrator Yuyi Morales tells her story of falling in love with picture books.

So what’s the secret to writing success? Jerry B. Jenkins shares his key to successful writing; Margaret Atwood lists her 10 success tips; and Karin Gillespie reveals the 5 sacred secrets of writing.

There are a lot of ways to increase your creativity and productivity as a writer. Dinah Lenney ruminates on writing spaces; Rachelle Gardner proposes software to track and analyse your productivity; Tim Kane suggests mimicking established writers to find your voice; and scientists confirm that there is an inherited element to creativity.

Roni Loren wonders if reading the genre you’re currently writing is dangerous; Amanda Nelson confesses that she is a literary coward—are you?; researchers Helen Thompson and Shankar Vedantum find that reading involves unexpected parts of the brain; and is the book always better than the movie? Molly Horan lists 10 YA novel to film adaptation that kept their edge.

Krissy Brady describes writing as a lifestyle, not a job, and describes how to boost your confidence as a writer; Keri Smith explains how to be an explorer of the world; Brainpickings brings us an animation showing the neurochemistry of empathy, storytelling, and the dramatic arc; George Plaven explores making the transition from journalism to romance writer; and Chuck Wendig says it’s time for your penmonkey self-evaluations.


Greg Sandoval outlines the settlement between Google and the AAP in the long-running copyright case over Google’s Library Project. Victoria Strauss explores the settlement, but wonders: what about the authors? She’s not the only one asking—writers from the American Society of Journalists and Authors, the National Writers Union, and the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America slam the secrecy of the publisher-Google settlement.

In other publishing news, an Amazon glitch has been hitting Collectibles Booksellers items; Anna Breslaw wonders what fanfiction has wrought on the YA industry; Brian A. Klems tells us what writers need to know about copyrights; and Digital Book World draws a map of the publishing world.

Agent Janet Reid talks about the intangible things a query letter can convey—those things that make an agent assess whether this writer is compatible with them. She also addresses a disturbing new trend—writers whose agents quit the business. She tells us what to do if your agent quits.

Intangibles aside, Lisa Bullard & Laura Purdie Salas explain how to query an agent or editor; Shuchi Singh Kalra lists 6 ways to get your query noticed; Kiera Cass does a step-by-step on how to query; and Jennifer Laughran says not to sweat the genre categories so much.

Marie Lamba reminds conference-goers that agents are just people, too, and to make the most of encounters at conferences without freaking out.

And if you’re a non-fic writer looking for an agent, check out new agent Anna Sproul-Latimer of The Ross Yoon Agency.

Marketing has so many different facets, it’s hard to know what to tackle first. Sarah Pinneo tells us how to ask for an author blurb; Jennifer Laughran gives tips to make readings easier on you; and Rachel Thompson gives us 8 steps for finding book reviewers.

Kayelle Allen explains the art of niche marketing for writers; Stephanie Palmer lists 20 things you should never do in a Hollywood pitch meeting; and Anthony Wessel demystifies the cycles of book sales—and why timing your marketing efforts properly is essential. Jonathan Gunson advises writers on how to avoid the social media “train wreck.”

In this online world, the debate over how “safe” an author should be in what they do and say, whether they should express any opinion for fear of offending readers, is ongoing. Tobias Buckell argues that it is important for authors to be authentic, even if they offend people.


Best book covers of the year? Design Observer thinks so. What do you think?

Jennifer Chase asks: So you think you can be a CSI?

A fun look at The Library of Unborrowed Books. Makes me want to check them out.

For those researching medieval manuscripts, the British Library’s Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts supplies a helpful glossary to the terms used in describing medieval manuscripts.

That’s it for us this week!


  1. […] Thursdays, Kerry Gans produces a “Top Picks” post for The Author Chronicles. (Thanks to Laura Drake for pointing me toward this […]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


%d bloggers like this: