Posted by: Kerry Gans | November 22, 2012

Top Picks Thursday 11-22-2012

Happy Thanksgiving to all our USA readers!

Urban Librarians Unite aims to help restock NY libraries hit by Hurricane Sandy, as well as give books to displaced kids. You can help by donating books or money.

Book lists are always great. We start with the National Book Award winners, move to Harper Children’s School & Library teams sharing their top picks for the month of November, hop over to Playing By The Book for a list of children’s books either set in museums or featuring real artifacts that can be found in museum, Marissa Page lists 5 books every high school student should read before college, and ROAR!—the New York Public Library’s guide to free online and in-person programs for kids.

Some author news: 97-year-old Herman Wouk returns with The Lawgiver, a novel made of text messages, e-mails and Skype transcripts; Discworld author Terry Pratchett has decided to hand his work down to his daughter when the time comes; and Stephen King & John Melloncamp’s musical gets an All-Star singing class.

Book design is an often-overlooked yet very important part of the success or failure of a book. Emilia Terragni gives us great moments that rocked book design history.

And find out why George Orwell said “the great enemy of clear language is insincerity.”


As we close in on the end of NaNo, you might need some motivation for that last push. Here’s a couple of pep talks from Holly Black and Scott Westerfeld.

YA Highway’s also got you covered, with some rejuvenating writing exercises and resources to get you through any NaNo nightmare.


We all get stuck when writing. Chuck Wendig has 25 ways to unstick your story. P.J. Parrish and Ian Fleming help you decide if your book is a thriller or a mystery. And Greenhouse Literary has a multi-part series on how to take your novel from ordinary to extraordinary.

Starting a new project is great—until we have to decide where to actually start the story. Chuck Wendig reminds us that stories should never begin at the beginning. Christina Lee lets us know why tension in a story matters big time, while Martina Boone talks about using the ticking clock to create suspense. And even a pantser can use a little guidance on where to go next—Jami Gold on thinking in concepts rather than details.

Mignon Fogarty puts us straight on the comma splice; Kevin Hearne writes about worldbuilding; Stephen King shares imagery-writing secrets; and Susan Dennard explores the fine art of story resonance.

Ellen Meister on how to write a novel in 3 easy steps; 5 writing tips from Laini Taylor; Henri Junttila with 7 habits of highly prolific writers; Tamara Powell with 4 ways to start writing like an expert; and Sevastion Winters with 10 things every aspiring writer should know.

K.M. Weiland on why writers should never hit delete; Peter Winkler with the formula on how to write a bestseller; the Script Lab explores the idea of the screenwriter as benign dictator; io9 has a concept art writing prompt: a giant crab invades the office parking lot; and David B. Coe shares 6 non-writing things that might improve your writing.

Sometimes the best advice comes right from the horse’s mouth. P.J. O’Rourke shares, among other things, the takeaway message he got from Jane Eyre, while Ray Bradbury talks Fahrenheit 451 and the things that have fueled his career.

Writers deal in emotion, but sometimes emotion can get the best of us. Kim Harrington on the “I Suck” days; librarian Kelly Jensen on why it’s okay to sometimes piss people off; Art Holcomb on the commodity of courage; and Mark Alpert on how to love your book.

Everything is changing so fast in publishing, it can make our heads spin. Acute Angle Books takes a look at the future of the novel and how technology will affect it. Margaret Maron delves into the secrets of serial art, a form that is making something of a comeback.

Krissy Brady reveals the only way you’ll ever make time for writing, and how to never lose your motivation to write. And Kristi Holl advises that we set our 2013 writing goals NOW.


This week’s brouhaha is over Tim Ferriss’ book, which Barnes & Noble (and many independent bookstores) refuse to carry because they have boycotted shelving any Amazon-published books. As a result, Ferriss is marketing the book as a “banned” book. Many people, including Brian Farrey, have taken exception to Ferriss’ use of the term “banned,” since he is not the victim of censorship.

Penguin’s in the news for two reasons: Penguin bought back Puffin Book Club, and Penguin is expanding its library ebook lending program.

Have you heard? Audible has struck a deal with Diversion and AP Watt.

Catherine Ryan Howard explains why sometimes its smarter to unpublish a self-published novel than leave it out on the market; John Green explains to readers that authors do not control ebook pricing, so stop taking it out on them in reviews; Winnetka Book Stall owner Roberta Rubin prepares to retire; agent Natalie M. Lakosil talks about how fake reviews hurt authors and the industry at large; and Julie Butcher-Fedynich explains how publishing is like your mother—not!

Got a manuscript to shop? Editors and agents reveal what they want in post-election political manuscripts.

Agents do a lot for their authors, like negotiate how you get paid by a publishers. Nathan Bransford explains separate vs. joint accounting across a multibook deal, and the pros and cons of each. Agents aren’t capable of seeing the future, though, so trying to weigh the potential money from a hypothetical traditional advance vs. the potential money from self-publishing is a difficult tasks.

Looking for an agent? Here are interviews with: Elena Mechlin of Pippin Properties; Elizabeth Evans of Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency; and Lindsay Edgecomb of Levine Greenberg Literary.

Getting your books in libraries can increase sales. Dennis Abrams cites studies that show that library borrowers really do buy books.

Meanwhile, when you’re out and about on your social platform, Rachelle Gardner has some tips about what you should never reveal on social media, and Ollin Morales shares 8 sneaky little ways to make blog posts more shareable.


Take a look at these astounding N.C. Wyeth illustrations from an old children’s storybook.

Need a spooky fix? Here’s a world map of haunted places from a British folklorist.

With the resolution of the le Carre-Rushdie literary feud, here are a few other famous literary truces that ended epic feuds.

Think you know your Oxford Dictionaries? Think again—the main differences between the OED and ODO.

Hungry? Snack on these awesome book cakes.

If you’re a King Arthur fan like me, here is the ms. that is the granddaddy of them all: Malory’s The Morte D’Arthur—digitized for easy viewing.

That’s all for us! Have a safe and Happy Thanksgiving!


  1. Thanks for linking to my museum post. As to edible books, you might like the photos from the Edible Book festival I ran this year


    • We’ll be sure to check it out! Some of those books are so beautiful, I would be sad to cut them up and eat them.


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