Posted by: Kerry Gans | April 18, 2013

Top Picks Thursday 04-18-2013

Our hearts go out to the city of Boston and the people whose lives were irrevocably changed by the explosions.

Meanwhile, in the writing world…

Everything old is new again. A new imprint, Lizzie Skurnick from Ig Publishing, will reissue out-of-print YA literature, including books by Lois Duncan. And, Ray Bradbury’s classics will soon be coming out as ebooks.

Mysteries abound in the literary world. The Chilean poet Pablo Neruda will be exhumed to try and determine if he was murdered by Pinochet to keep him from causing trouble for the new regime. Then there’s the strange story of when Dickens met Dostoevsky—except that the meeting might never have happened. A web of deceit and intrigue is uncovered as a result. Finally, could J.R.R. Tolkien’s Hobbit ring have been inspired by an ancient, cursed ring found in England?

David Levithan reflects on the 10th anniversary of BOY MEETS BOY.

Need science info for your book? Check out the website Science Modalities, dedicated to improving the science in your writing.

Do you find it an annoyance to lug your used books to a donation place? Mailboxes for Good has solved that problem with a unique and easy way to donate books.

Libraries spread knowledge and diversity through the world. A salon-library in Brooklyn stocks rare books and coffee, while librarians from around the world pick the top 10 best children’s books from their countries.


The discussion continues in reply to Scott Turow’s article The Slow Death of the American Author. Jeremy Greenfield of Forbes explains why Turow is wrong about authors (and why the Authors Guild is kind of like the NRA), while Nathan Bransford has a rebuttal of his own.

Dave Astor gives us a brief history of LGBT characters in fiction.

Elizabeth Wein explores teenage characters and responsibility in teen novels, while Nichole Bernier encourages kids to own their opinions, even in the face of opposition.

Kathryn Craft explain how to get your story moving right from the opening, while Kristi Cook examines 5 common problems in YA manuscripts.

It’s all about the words. Jami Chavez lists some words to never use in your novels; Katie Axelson has 4 words that kill your prose; and William B. Bradshaw has 5 words you’re probably saying wrong.

Victoria Grefer tells us what to note on a first draft read-through, and Chris F. Holm shares how to plan the perfect murder.

Character is what draws people into the story. Moody Writing says the story permutations you can write are infinite, because it’s all about the choices your character makes. Jami Gold tells us how to use character flaws to develop your plot.

Jody Hedlund reminds us that the modern author’s main job is to WRITE.

Justine Larbalestier discusses what she’s learned in 10 years of writing YA novels for a living; Dave Farland on how to take criticism; Jonathan Maberry shares advice on what it means to be a professional writer today; Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie says that “to write is to grapple with self-doubt”; and John R. Phython, Jr. explains how the magic of reading led him to write fantasy.

Everybody takes their own road to publication. Traditional or self-published? Chuck Wendig offers concrete examples of when self-publishing first might not be the best way to go. To blog or not to blog? Victoria Grefer explores how blogging can help your fiction writing. And Justine Musk has 11 quick and dirty things about writing.

We all need more time to write—especially those of us with small children. Joe Hill advises on how to keep writing as a new parent; Devon Flaherty gives us 11 ways stay-at-home parents (and other busy folks) can find time to write; and Molly Flatt introduces 5 online productivity tools for writers.

Owen Egerton lists 30 writing tips; Charlie Morrigan has amassed 25 of the greatest quotes about writing; and Sophie Masson examines writer’s guides from the past—and marvels at how much publishing has changed.

Kristi Holl warns authors against shifting and drifting when trying to reach our goals; Jo Walton defends escapist reading; Tim Kane wonders when do you let your creativity free?; and Jessica Soffer has the 10 best book endings ever.

Holly Lisle has good advice for those authors signing contracts virtually online—always keep the documents that the original contract links to. Using the Barnes & Noble contract as an example, Holly explains why documenting contract linking is critical.

Do you have trouble negotiating? Here are 3 tips to make your negotiations better.


A small publisher in Vermont is sentenced to 6 months in jail for defrauding authors. A reminder to authors to be alert for scams—but good to know that sometimes justice wins.

Agent Carly Watters explores what agents are looking for in a writer, while Rachelle Gardner answers the question: Does a writer’s potential matter to agents?

Still confused about what makes a perfect query letter? Maureen Johnson writes the PERFECT QUERY LETTER (NOT) as a sample, while agent Cheryl Klein shows us what NEVER to do in a query as well as one that worked. Marie Lamba gives a different slant on how to think about a query letter—as an invitation.

If you’re looking for an agent, MacKenzie Fraser-Bub of Trident Media Group is searching for women’s fiction, romance, upmarket, historical, literary and YA.

Do you have to work with creative-but-difficult talent in your job (say, as an agent)? Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic lays out 7 rules for managing creatives in the workplace.

Got an elevator pitch that’s just not sparking any interest? Dr. Robyn Odegaard explains why your elevator pitch doesn’t work.

Make your social media work for you. Jane Friedman lists 3 ways to improve your author website today, and Jordyn Redwood explains Tweetables.



Poetry is in the air this month. Read handwritten poems by famous authors like Keats, Dylan, Fitzgerald, Dickinson and more; investigate the little-known poetry of Mark Twain; see a short poem by 13-year-old Charlotte Brontë; and get introduced to the genre of country house poetry.

Usually when we think of alphabet books we think children. The 15th century MacClesfield alphabet book is not one I would let my child play with! And as for what to read to children? Not sure I would go with what British children were reading in the 1700s—especially not the one with the illustration of the father being executed in front of his family.

Doing research? Check out the British Masonic periodicals now online, as well as find the French prose Brut Chronicles in the British Library.

You think your typos are bad? A new Irish coin misquotes a line from James Joyce’s ULYSSES. Whoever made that gaff might want to change their name to one of these 8 pseudonyms famous writers and directors used in movie credits.

Do people talk funny where you live? Here’s a detailed map of English dialects of North America—and on the other side of the ocean David Almond explores just what makes “proper” English.

Daniel Engber tackles the largest existential problem facing mankind today: if cats rule the internet, why do dogs reign in print?

That’s it for us this week!

Author Chronicles’ Top Pick Thursday Writing Links Roundup! Click to Tweet

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