Posted by: Kerry Gans | February 14, 2013

Top Picks Thursday 02-14-2013

Happy Valentine’s Day!

There are many ways of promoting literacy nowadays. Two of them are Read Across America Day and Behind the Book. If you want to participate in Read Across America Day or need to get books into the hands of underprivileged kids in your area, contact First Book. Behind the Book is celebrating a decade of writers promoting reading at public schools.

Not only is reading good for your mental health, but reading actually teaches children grammar.

Happy Birthday, Jules Verne! Also, get Sylvia Plath’s Oxford Dictionary of National Biographies biography as a free podcast download.

YALSA investigates the 2013 Great Graphic Novels for Teens Top Ten, and Emma Donoghue picks 10 best short story collections.

Blizzard-damaged Longfellow Books in Portland, Maine, vows to reopen—and Maine writers offer help and support to the store.

Conferences abound! Check out a new kind of conference for a new kind of author: Author (R)evolution Day on Feb 12. Also, sign up for a heads up when registration for the 2013 Philadelphia Writers’ Conference is open. And check out School Library Journal’s Photos of the week highlighting the 14th Annual Society of Children Book Writers & Illustrators Conference.


We love our libraries here at the Author Chronicles. And love to promote them. Read this beautiful article from Caitlin Moran about how libraries can literally save people—including herself.

Find out the most borrowed books of 2012 (in UK libraries), and investigate the complex issues of “mini libraries”—book boxes that have been set up where libraries were destroyed by Sandy.

Celebrate National I Love My Library Month by ooohing and aaaahing over these environmentally friendly libraries. Britain is celebrating National Libraries Day. Here are five FANTASTIC letters from notable people on the beauty of libraries, and a video of Discworld author Terry Pratchett sharing his love of libraries.


Is Romance your genre? The editors at Entangled have created new wishlists!

Anna Bell tackles an oft-misunderstood genre in: What is Chick Lit?

Allison Vesterfelt tells us how to write non-fiction and keep your friends.

Kristin Otts wonders why girls don’t get as much action as guys in YA—why sexuality in the female characters is usually glossed over, stereotyped, or not mentioned.

Do you ever wonder what comes first for other writers: character or plot? Holly Black answers with an unequivocal “Both.”

After the character/plot, you need to flesh things out and go deep. Athol Dickson gives us 5 ways to find the perfect setting for your novel, while Janice Hardy shows us how to develop your theme.

You’ve got all your ingredients, now to write! The Script Lab gives us an in-depth questionnaire to add spark to any scene, while C.S. Lakin reveals the secret behind mastering “show don’t tell.”

Many writers dislike synopsis writing, but Jami Gold has a recipe for a successful synopsis that should give any writer a solid first draft.

Our characters are very real to us–sometimes eeriely so. Nancy Kricorian was shocked when her characters became her extended family and invaded her pantry.

But how do we tell our characters’ stories? Chuck Wendig has 25 things you should know about narrative point of view, while Roz Morris looks more in-depth at free indirect POV and deep POV.

After we write, we need feedback to make it better. Jared M. Gordon advocates “trial by writer”—developing an actual desire for criticism as a way to improve, rather than becoming defensive and ignoring good advice.

Is your brain your own worst enemy? Laini Taylor discusses battling perfectionism on a daily basis when trying to write.

We all need more time, don’t we? Kristi Holl gives us self-care secrets to creating more time (among them, knowing when to say “no”).

Writing a novel can be grueling. Cinthia Ritchie likens writing a novel to training for a marathon, while Sarah Painter tells us how to stay motivated.

Frustrated because no agent wants to read your manuscript? Suzannah Windsor Freeman gives you some ways to get agents’ attention (without stalking them). And once you have a writing career going, should you stick to only one genre? Trish Nicholson discusses switching genres and trusting the readers.

Charles Dickens wrote wonderful stories, but he also gave some sage advice to his youngest (and favorite) son.

Ever wonder what inspired authors of classics? P.G. Wodehouse describes how his character Jeeves became more than just a butler; Roseanne Montillo shares the gruesome true story behind FRANKENSTEIN; and 2013 Caldecott children’s book illustrator Peter Brown was inspired by his own N.J. childhood.

Writers are often stereotyped or pigeonholed. Don’t tell Beth Cato—she enjoys defying people’s expectations of what she SHOULD write.

Elizabeth Gilbert takes on a cranky Philip Roth, who tried to dissuade a young man from pursuing a writing career. Gilbert says writers should remember what makes their job so fantastic, rather than whine about what makes it so horrible.

Even the best jobs have their bad days. Stephanie Burgis experiences such a rotten day—and finishes off with a perfect reminder of why she writes in the first place.


If you’re seeking publishing jobs, check out MediaBistro’s list.

Amazon wins the patent for an “electronic marketplace for used digital objects”—in other words, Amazon wants to sell used e-books.

Macmillan settles with the Department of Justice over agency pricing—that leaves Apple as the only defendant standing.

In southern Florida, closing big chain bookstores means loss of community, while Santa Barbara welcomes its first new independent bookstore in 20 years—Granada Books.

The latest clash in publishing is Games Workshop (creator of Warhammer 4000) suing an author who used the term “space marine” in her book title. Games Workshop holds a patent to that phrase, and is trying to co-opt it for itself, in spite of the fact that “space marines” have been common characters in science fiction for decades.

The future of publishing? E-books are exploding in India, riding the tablet boom. In America, kids are being raised (and therefore trained) to read on e-reader rather than paper—and therefore will grow into adults who read on e-devices rather than buy paper books. All this leads to the question: what is a book in the age of the iPad? Craig Mod attempts to answer.

People think authors are overly sensitive to bad reviews. Check out publisher Edwin Mellen Press, who decided to sue an academic librarian and McMaster University for $3,000,000 because the librarian had a poor opinion of Edwin Mellen’s products.

If you’re a writer looking for literary agents and other industry insiders to follow on Twitter, browse Jessica Strawser’s  list of publishing professionals. And there’s an interview with literary agent Susan Hawk of The Bent Agency and query contest over on Stacey O’Neale’s blog.

Once we get our coveted book deal, Kathryn Craft describes how images will brand us before anyone reads one word of the craft we’ve been honing for so long.

One way to market is to provide short stories between books or “lost content” cut from novels to keep readers interested between books. Stephanie Perkins has done just that, posting a deleted chapter of ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS.

Social media has been hyped as the end-all be-all for writers to push their books, especially as publishers spend less and less on publicity. But more and more people in the publishing world are starting to think that this 24/7 online life may not fit all (or even most) writers well. Stacey May Fowles has a great post on NOT putting yourself out there, while Gillian Flynn’s agent advises first writing a great book, THEN talking about it.

Twitter has a new Vine video tool. Jason Boog explains how writers can use Twitter’s Vine effectively.

If you’re looking for good blogs to follow, check out Robert Lee Brewer’s Best Blogs of Writers to Read in 2013.


Do you live in one of the 25 most literate US cities? If you do, then you may already know what to do when books make you cry on public transportation.

Doing research? Here’s a list of museums online. And if you get your facts wrong, you may find your book on a blog similar to this: Sam Sheridan on survival tips for characters in disaster movies.

It seems like we are always finding out new things about our favorite authors. Explore the connection between Shakespeare and Maurice Sendak; visit Dr. Suess’ real-life hat collection; see unseen manuscripts that prove that Virginia Woolf had a fun side; and investigate how Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s use of laudanum affected her writing.

The British Library’s goal is to digitize 25,000 manuscripts. It takes some further steps by announcing that Beowulf and 5 other big medieval books are now online. For all things medieval, visit the Medieval Fragments blog’s archives. And read the latest newsletter of the E-Codices: Virtual Manuscript Library of Switzerland project.

Finally, do you want to cook something quick, easy…and unappetizing? Revisit Poppy Cannon’s Can Opener Cookbook.

That’s it for us! See you next week!


  1. Woo hoo! Another great collection of links. 🙂 Love that Scene Questionnaire by the Script Lab. And thanks so much for sharing mine!


    • Thought the questionnaire would appeal to you! And I will definitely be trying your recipe with my next synopsis. 🙂


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 )

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: