Posted by: Kerry Gans | June 20, 2013

Top Picks Thursday 06-20-2013

The Chroniclers congratulate friend of the blog Jonathan Maberry on his Bram Stoker Award for his YA novel FLESH & BONE! Click here for the full list of Stoker Award winners.

Chip MacGregor pays tribute to Lee Hough, one of the good guys in the business who is dealing with the ravages of cancer.

NPR has a brilliant podcast of TED speakers exploring the art of storytelling. Meanwhile, Porter Anderson wonders if the constant pressure for authors to write more and more at a faster and faster rate is harming literature.

Think “Happy Birthday to You” is in the public domain? Think again. The copyright intricacies around a simple song everybody sings.

The 21st century has invaded the venerable Oxford English Dictionary! The OED has added “tweet,” “crowdsourcing,” and “e-Reader” to its pages.

Want to help a NYC public school library stay open? Bid on art from famous children’s book illustrators. Great art for a great cause.


The non-profit First Book has announced a commitment to solving the lack of diversity in children’s literature issue. Meanwhile, YA Flash shows unequivocally that the “lack of boy YA” is a myth, and Tobias Buckell gives us a glimpse at the racism lurking around science fiction.

On the sexual diversity side of things, Dennis Abrams wonders if YA is too sexy, Saundra Mitchell talks about the challenge of writing a bisexual character in a historical era where there were no words to describe bisexuality, Stacked Books highlights the all-too-rare healthy female sexual experiences in YA, and Chuck Wendig takes the discussion out of fiction and into the real world as he tackles some of the more challenging responses to his blog post about sexism and misogyny in publishing.


With summer firmly in place, many writers find their writing time greatly diminished by the sudden onslaught of children at home every day and the breaks in routine for vacations. How to stay productive in an often chaotic season? Kristi Holl advises journaling through the summer.

When you do have time to work on your book, Charlie Price tells you how to write an opening that will let readers know they will be rewarded. On the other end of the book spectrum, Victoria Gefer talks plot resolution and closure, while Cheryl Klein discusses Mike Cadden’s three essential ingredients for a satisfying ending.

Author and psychologist finishes off her series on traumatizing your character by discussing the final symptom of PTSD, hyper-arousal, and describing PTSD treatments that work.

Get the little things right, and they can make your book stand out. Hallie Ephron explains how to make the ordinary menacing; Roz Morris tells us how to identify and remove trivial details in our manuscripts; and just in case comma usage drives you nuts, Victoria Mixon clears up the serial vs. Oxford comma controversy once and for all.

Character goals are intertwined with plot as well as character development. You really can’t have a story without goals, and Gail Gaymer Martin has a list of questions to ask and answer in your story to make sure the goals are story-worthy.

Kate Messner talks about world building—which we need to do whether we are writing contemporary or science fiction. In science fiction, dystopian is all the rage. P.J. Hoover explains why people should read dystopian literature, while Elizabeth Guizzetti discusses craft in creating and researching technologies in a dystopia.

K.M. Weiland asks: are you over-thinking your first draft? Since the answer is probably yes, Kristen Lamb has the answer to how to outrun Spock brain.

Sometimes knowing when you are finished a book is hard. Maureen Johnson tells us how to finish a book; Seth Godin warns against polishing perfect; and Carolyn Kaufman explains how you know when your work is agent-ready.

We’re all running around like crazy these days. Sumayyah Daud explains how to stop procrastinating; Kristen Lamb distinguishes between being busy or being fruitful; and Tom Angleberger says you do not need to write an hour a day to be successful.

Jeanette Winterson lays out 10 rules for writing fiction; Joanne Harris dispels the Top 10 misconceptions about writers; and when all else fails, Jody Hedlund assures us that it’s okay to freak out once in a while.


Today, it is often hard to know if you’d be better off self-publishing. trying to get traditionally published, or doing both. Jami Gold advises looking at your career goals in order to find the publishing path that’s right for you.

If anyone has done business with 2 Moon Press, contact the authorities—the publisher’s abrupt closure has sparked a probe and left many authors high and dry.

What’s an agent looking for in an author? Agent Marie Lamba explains what the “complete package” author looks like.

If you’re agent hunting, check out this interview with Christa Heschke of McIntosh & Otis. She’s looking for middle grade, YA, and more.

Marketing can be confusing to authors, but the bottom line is that marketing is all about connecting with your readers. Colby Marshall has 5 tips to identify your target audience; Toni Tesori explains how to connect to more readers in 5 minutes; and Matt Mikalatos shares 4 ways to build healthy relationships with your readers.

Nellie Kurtzman, VP of Marketing at Little Brown Books for Young Readers, tells authors what they really need to know about marketing; Jodi Meadows lays out a promotion timeline; and Jeff Klima lists 12 evil but funny ways to make your book more marketable.

Social media is a huge tool for writers trying to connect with their readers. Yet it can be a huge time suck. Anne R. Allen shares 7 ways authors waste time “building platform” on social media.

Sarah Pinneo looks at the psychology of Goodreads, while Jami Gold explains how authors can use CreateSpace as a learning tool.

If you blog and need a break, how can you do it without losing the audience you’ve gained? Paul Keep lays out 5 ways to break from your blog while keeping readers interested.


A practical note from F. Scott Fitzgerald to his 11-year-old daughter: “Things Not to Worry About.”

Want to dissect stuff but having trouble digging up cadavers? Try this virtual dissection table.

Take a look at these 11 weird books that really exist.

If you love books, here are 10 literary restaurants to try—and some whimsical pairings of cheeses and their author doppelgangers. Yes, we said cheeses and authors.

Finally, wrap up your browsing with this very funny skit from Mitchell and Webb – Write This. Any writer who has ever gotten feedback can relate!

That’s all for us this week!

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