Posted by: Kerry Gans | October 25, 2012

Top Picks Thursday 10-25-2012

October is an awesome month. It is National Dyslexia Awareness Month (author Michael Northrop shares his experience); Neil Gaiman explains All Hallow’s Read; Bookalicious’ Pam shows how to carve a Mockingjay pumpkin; and check out these literary Halloween costumes.

Britain’s oldest literary prize, the James Tait Black award, has six authors short listed for their “Best Ever” award.

Take a look at the first 28 pages of cartoonist Tom Hart’s book about losing his daughter.

Debbie Ridpath Ohi (and all authors) want to understand how discoverability works in the new paradigm. Help her out by taking this 3-question survey.

If you find books via list recommendations, Try Story Snoops’ list for upper elementary reading recommendations, and Malaika Rose Stanley’s children’s books list featuring mixed-race/biracial characters. Ms. Stanley is also seeking new additions and updates for her list, so chime in with your favorites.

We all knew books are good for the brain, but here’s proof: exposure to books at a young age changes how a child’s brain grows; and scientists found that there are visible neurological differences when we read for pleasure versus reading critically.

Like 50 contests in one—head over to the YAmazing Race! And check here for more information on the #TwitterFiction Festival.

As writers, we’re also business people. Check out Gary A. Hensley’s blog, Tax Solutions for Writers, for tax advice from a professional.

Think November is all about NaNoWriMo? Think again! Online registration is free for Tara Lazar’s PiBoIdMo (Picture Book Idea Month), which begins Oct.24.


Since NaNoWriMo is fast approaching, here are some tips from the trenches: Janice Hardy on planning your novel’s ending; Gina Rossi’s tips from a NaNo survivor; Roni Loren’s checklist for outlining your story for NaNo; James Scott Bell on how to write a novel in a month; Karen Wiesner on how to write a first draft in 30 days; and YA Highway asks, “Are you ready for NaNo?”


Happy 161st Birthday, MOBY-DICK! Get some free Herman Melville ebooks to mark the occasion. Did you know Melville was inspired to write MOBY-DICK after a visit to Hawaii? And take a peek at the original (handwritten) contract for MOBY-DICK.


Johanna Harness walks us through the five-act structure, while Kristen Lamb talks about how genre affects structure.

Scott Bury wonders “What is style?”, while Bobbi Dumas addresses a key element of style: clarity as a guiding principle in novels and business.

Mary Kole tells us why guesses and misunderstandings are not enough to base a plot on; Shannon Mayer lists 33 funny #amwriting tips; and Rebecca Johnson has an easy way to ferret out those passive voice sentences: “If you can insert “by zombies” after the verb, you have passive voice.”

Character motivations drive your story. Martina Boone talks in-depth about character development (even has a worksheet!); Tim Kane advises using multiple intelligences to deepen your character; and Jodie Renner walks us through the essential characteristics of a thriller hero.

Authors and agents seem to have been especially talkative this week, giving us good advice. J.K. Rowling has both an hour-log interview on Charlie Rose, and a live webcast with J.K. Rowling about Harry Potter and Pottermore.

Margaret Atwood is interviewed on Chuck Wendig’s Terrible Minds blog, and Jonathan Maberry advises wanna-be writers to just sit down and write.

Jacqueline Kelly was inspired to write a sequel to THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS, and A.S. King talks about her inspirations and influences for her writing as a whole and for her book ASK THE PASSENGERS.

Susan Cooper writes a lovely tribute to Margaret Mahy, while Stephen King freaks out Canadian high school students.

Elise Capron of Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency talks about first novels, and Chris F. Holm argues that judicious writing for non-paying markets can enhance your career.

Online distractions are a real productivity killer today. Nick Bilton has some advice on avoiding online distractions, while Chris Skoyles says increasing productivity and flow may rest in using plain old pen and paper.

Fear, often in the guise of our internal editor, also holds back our writing. Jean Oram has 5 ways to silence your inner editor; Kathryn Craft shows us how to recognize and beat Storyphobia; and Sharon Gibson has wisdom tips to overcome the fear of failure. Hey, even the best fail, as seen by these 50 iconic authors who were repeatedly rejected.

People are asking questions this week. Cressida Downing asks: How important is your book title?, while John Jarzemsky wants to know: Is reading sexy?

Nathan Bransford reminds us that ideas are not sacred (nor copyright-able, except in Hollywood), but Wendy Sparrow’s experience may make you think twice about sharing your ideas freely with others.

One of the hardest things for a writer to do is get motivated and stay motivated. Krissy Brady has 10 Twitter hashtags to get you writing and keep you writing; Gabriela Pereira shares 3 steps to using prompts to write better and get published; Jami Gold uses music to spur her writing; Aileen Pablo gives us 5 motivational techniques; and Tony Schwartz may have the simplest answer of all—take a lunch break.

K.M. Weiland tells us how to know if your book is a success; Krissy Brady helps us create clear writing goals to focus our lives; and Michelle Roberts reports that creativity is often part of a mental illness, with writers particularly susceptible.

Writing is amazing. Learning to write well can underpin an entire educational revolution. Writing can take us back in time, as with the new book Dear Teen Me, where authors write to their teenage selves. Writing encourages cross-media efforts, like Christine Tobin’s new album of 13 songs based on the poetry of W.B. Yeats.


Amazon is in the news again. First, the Guardian examines Amazon’s UK contracts and the discrepancy between the VAT the publishers pay and the amount Amazon must turn into the government. Then, the story of an Amazon deletion of a Kindle owner’s entire library—with no explanation given. Martin Bekkelund broke the story, with Cory Doctorow and Mark King weighing in.

In other publisher news, Random House officially grants ownership of its ebooks to libraries, in a move that has stunned others in the business.

Apple leaks mention of iBooks 3.0, reinforcing iPad Mini’s focus on ebooks.

Digital Book World reports that the average price of ebook best-sellers is rising, while Publisher’s Weekly reports a sold six months for trade sales.

Newsweek magazine is shutting down its print edition and going all digital; Fireside Magazine, meanwhile, is attempting a new paradigm of using Kickstarter to finance each digital volume.

Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency takes us behind the scenes in the world of rights at the Frankfurt Book Fair.

In people news, Alistair Burtenshaw, former director of London Book Fair, is to head the Paris Cookbook Fair. And Gemma Cooper has moved to the Bent Agency and is seeking new clients.

Marie Lamba says, yes, an interested agent will Google a prospective author so be careful what they find online. Nicola Morgan with some easy steps to writing a query. And if you self-publish in the hopes of getting noticed by a traditional publisher, Janet Reid spells out the hard numbers you’d need to attract any attention at all.

What are agents looking for? Here’s two things they DON’T want: “didactic” picture books and YA portal fantasies.

In marketing, Anthony Horowitz examines if other author’s blurbing your book jacket really helps sell the book. Jamee Rae Pineda tells us how to create our writing brand. Rachelle Gardner thinks perhaps blogging might not be the best use of marketing time for all authors. And DuoLit shows us how to use Twitter to effectively build your fanbase and market your book.

If Twitter still scares you, check out Twitter’s official guide for authors.


THE HOBBIT is everywhere these days, including a building-sized mural for the movie. BookRiot also has the top 10 alternate taglines for THE HOBBIT.

Ever wonder what it was like living in the time of the Brontes or Jane Austen? The Bronte Parsonage did “decorative archaeology” on their museum and will unveil the Brontesian renovation in February, while Bharat Tandon immerses himself in minutia while writing an annotated and illustrated version of Austen’s EMMA.

Ever hear of the World Alphabet Olympics? Yeah, me neither. Find out who won.

Speaking of alphabets, the world’s oldest undeciphered writing, proto-Elamite, may be close to being decoded, thanks to reflectance transformation imaging and crowdsourcing.

Wallace Yovetich walks us through some of the coolest bookshelves ever.

Miranda J. McDermott lists theatre special libraries and museums.

And for those who just want some tawdry gossip, here are the 13 juiciest bits from the Richard Burton Diaries.

That’s it for us! Have a safe and happy Halloween!


  1. Great collection of links here! I know how I’ll be spending the next hour. 😉 Thanks for including me in your collection!


    • You’re welcome. So many writers seem inspired by music. I tend to write in the quiet – maybe because when Toddler is sleeping is the only time I get any relief from the assault on my ears! 🙂


  2. Wow. I’ve only begun to skim, but DearTeenMe is a gem! Thanks so much!


    • It does look like fun! I’m going to explore more later, too.


  3. Whoa, what a great round-up. And thanks for including PiBoIdMo!


    • You’re welcome, Tara. PiBoIdMo is a great idea, and sounds like fun! Seems like something similar could be done for short story writers, or even magazine article writers.


  4. […] was pondering what to write about, when I received The Author Chronicles, ‘Top Thursday Picks’ in my […]


  5. Wow, you have an amazing list! Thanks for including my post on silencing your inner editor. 🙂


    • You’re welcome! I think we all need help quieting our editor down. 🙂


  6. […] was pondering what to write about, when I remembered The Author Chronicles, ‘Top Thursday Picks’ in my […]


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