Posted by: Kerry Gans | December 13, 2012

Top Picks Thursday 12-13-2012

The closer we get to the new year, the more great book lists come out! Publishers Weekly Best Books of 2012;  MTV Geek’s Best Graphic Novels Of 2012; and a look at 2013 YA cover trends.

More in the mood for a challenge or contest? Check out YALSA’s Morris Award non-fiction reading challenge, and the annual PBS KIDS GO! Writers Contest.

And when it comes to awards, Angela Carter was named Best Ever winner of the UK’s oldest literary prize, the James Tait Black award. And the Library of Congress will spend $1.5 million gift in bestowing awards for literacy.

In library news, college professor Jessica Kahn gets libraries into schools (and you can help); the NY public library system is doing an incredible job keeping displaced students from Sandy-ravaged areas connected to their schools so they can keep up with their education; and a Tattooed Librarian Calendar benefiting the Massachusetts Library Association “is selling briskly.”

Have you heard of Small Demons yet? Their Storyverse encyclopedia of all things bookwise will tell you more than you ever wanted to know about the books you love—but beware: it’s addictive!


You’ve got a first draft. Now what? Is it even any good? Leila Austin gives us 3 signs you should NOT trash your first draft, while Joanne Penn outlines the steps to take a first draft to finished.

Before you start writing, test your characters to see if they are strong enough to carry the story. While you’re at it, decide if any of your characters would use profanity—and decide if profanity is necessary in writing at all.

Michelle Lim outlines a simple way to make every chapter end in a cliffhanger, while Mary Kole gives us things to keep in mind when writing an action scene.

Roz Morris shares how to ignore an editor’s suggestions and still fix your novel.

Nothing like advice from the pros. Stephen King offers writing tips to US students; 14 writing tips from Anne Lamott; and Adam Brault discovers that time is not the most important resource you have—it’s uninterrupted thought.

Paris Review editor Lorin Stein talks about the art of the short story, and a new book out where 20 contemporary authors choose their favorite Paris Review short stories, and why.

Jami Gold wonders if slow writers can win at NaNo, while Evie Maneiri discusses what being in the theater has taught her about writing.

How to find success as an author? Jezebel’s Katie J.M. Baker says the key to literary success is to be a man; Linda Joy Singleton shares what she’s learned in her professional career; Chuck Wendig has 25 things he’d like to tell his 18-year-old self; and Holly Black discusses her process in writing The Coldest Girl in Coldtown.

Meanwhile, Shelli Johnson reminds us all that the people who try to tear you down don’t matter—all that matters is that you are happy doing what you love.


The New York Times is creating new Middle Grade and YA bestseller lists. Is this good or bad? Agent Michael Bourret weighs in, especially on the middle grade list. And John Green posted a snapshot of the MG/YA lists.

In other publishing news, Karen Berger is leaving DC Comics’ Vertigo imprint in 2013; The Economist unbundles digital subscriptions from print; and Random House employees get $5,000 bonuses, thanks to the strong sales of 50 Shades of Grey.

Speaking of 50 Shades, Jami Gold explores the ethics of the pull-to-publish phenomenon in fan fiction.

In good news, children’s booksellers are off to a strong start for the holiday selling season.

Agent Marie Lamba writes about how the recession has forced many writers to regress in their careers—and what to do about it. And Agent Rachelle Gardner says to resist the temptation to pitch your entire body of work in a query—start with pitching a single, saleable book.

Publicity is something authors need, but not all publicity firms are created equal. Victoria Strauss of Writer Beware warns writers against a scam PR firm: The Albee Agency. Not only are their packages questionable at best, but they used fake testimonials from authors such as Chuck Wendig.

Facebook is a lynchpin of many marketing strategies—but it only works if done right. Lisa Hall-Wilson lists 4 ways writers sabotage themselves on Facebook.


Okay, this had us all laughing: a male author trying out the poses of female book cover characters.

Who says The Simpsons are low-brow humor? Check out 10 Famous Authors Featured on the Simpsons.

Speaking of famous authors, on 12/6/1933, a federal judge ruled James Joyce’s ULYSSES was not obscene, overturning a ban of the book that had been in place since 1920.

Want to read Shakespeare without getting a hernia from carrying around his complete works? Folger Digital Texts has launched, with 23 of Shakespeare’s best known plays available.

Check out some highlights of the newly-opened Dickens Museum, located in his only surviving London home.

And in the truth-is-stranger-than-fiction category, here’s an entire book about the foreign objects people have ingested.

That’s it for this week!


  1. Keri, thanks for including my piece on ignoring an editor’s suggestions. But just a note – I’m Roz Morris, not Roni Loren!


    • Oops! Sorry! Too many names in my head too late at night. I’ll fix it ASAP!


  2. […] Thursdays at The Author Chronicles, Kerry Gans compiles top picks: articles of interest to writers. […]


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