Posted by: Kerry Gans | August 8, 2013

Top Picks Thursday 08-08-2013

We love us some bookstores here at the Author Chronicles. Take a look at some truly novel bookstores featured in the Wall Street Journal; and find out about a delicious new strategy keeping patrons in bookstores longer.

If you are a reading list lover, here are the Top Ten Middle Grade Read Alouds That Will Have Kids Rolling on the Floor Laughing from the Nerdy Book Club and The Ultimate Backseat Bookshelf: 100 Must-Reads For Kids 9-14 from NPR.

Some clever ads promoting reading by putting fictional characters in your bed.

If you are a YA author seeking publication, Lisa M. Cronkhite has put together a list of advance-paying YA publishers accepting unagented submissions.

If you are interested in contests, Cassandra H. Griffin has tips on what to do when entering writing contests.

For those of you still wondering what happened in the Harry Potter world after the series ended, here are some things J.K. Rowling has let slip.


When you start a book, you need to think about some big picture items. Setting can be a character unto itself in some books, and Gregory Frost talks about how to make a setting real even if you have never been there in person. You need to pick a narrative tense. Present tense is popular right now, but R.C. Lewis discusses the right and wrong times to use present tense. Jow Bunting examines liminality (the in-between spaces) and why you need liminal space in a story.

Some people plot their novels before they begin writing; some wing it until they get bogged down and need to sort things out. The good news, as Roz Morris reminds us, is that it is never too late to step back and plan your novel. If you like to outline, or just want to build a sketch to guide you, Steve Rossiter has a simple way to outline. And to keep everything story-related organized, many writers like Clare Toohey sing the praises of Scrivener.

Once you’ve got the big picture sorted, the small picture stuff starts to assert itself. Stephen King talks about the importance and function of a first line. K.M. Weiland warns that complex prose can kill your story, while Bella Puglisi shows us how to effectively convey emotion. To move to the micro-picture, Mark Nichol answers 3 questions about capitalization.

Characters carry the story. Andrea Mack describes how to create characters that live outside the story limits. Your story is nothing without a strong antagonist, so Karen Woodward defines 4 tips for creating a strong antagonist.

We writers need two minds—the editor and the creator. Gillian Burnes discusses how to switch between the two so they don’t compete; Kevin Hanrahan talks about the tough love of a hired editor; and knowing our genre and audience is so important to our editing process, as Elizabeth S. Craig advises.

For the memoirists among you, Jeff Goins has 3 rules to writing world-changing memoir.

For those who write series, Jami Gold ponders the question: should we include teaser exerpts at the end of a series book?

We all want to be successful. There are many roads to getting to success. Ransom Stephens tells us how to increase our odds of getting that “lucky” break; Kristi Holl advises persistence; Chad R. Allen says the secret is in the journey; Joe Calloway insists the road to success is delivering more than just good basics; and Catherine Ryan Howard reminds us all of the real truth to finding success: hard work.

Non Pratt expounds on a writer’s 7 deadly sins; Michael Nye lists 10 things emerging writers need to learn; and Chuck Wendig takes us through the emotional roller coaster of what happens when you do finally have your book published.


Jane Friedman’s got her Best Business Advice for Writers, July edition up.

A close look at Penguin’s rather curious policy on electronic galley distribution.

For those self-pubbing, Brian S. Hall gives 10 steps to self-publishing your book on Amazon, while Carla King sniffs out where the money is in self-publishing. Author Aubrey Rose discusses why she turned down a publishing deal from Amazon.

If you are seeking an agent for the traditional path, Dahlia Adler examines how to go about getting a second agent after you have split with your first. Juliet Mushens of The Agency Group lays out the dos and don’ts of approaching an agent, and Marie Lamba explains why just having a great story idea is not enough to land an agent.

Once you’ve got your book, you need to sell it. Michael Wolf has 4 ways to sell your e-book direct from your website (thereby paying no percentage to a retailer); James Moushon has a study about which paid advertising strategies work or do not; and Joanna Penn shares 3 ways fiction marketing differs from nonfiction marketing.

With authors shouldering so much of the marketing burden, sharing tips and tricks is helpful. Sean Beaudoin shares his personal story of why self-promotion is hell; Jody Hedlund counters with 3 ways writers can compete well in today’s crowded market; and Jami Gold says the time to start building your platform is before you have anything to sell.

Blogs can be a great marketing tool. Joel Friedlander tells us how to avoid 3 big blogging mistakes; Anne R. Allen shows us how to blog your way out of the slush pile; and L. Diane Wolfe lays out how to identify popular blogs when you are planning a blog tour.

Feel like you’re on social media all the time but getting nowhere? Jason Kong lists 7 reasons why social media is failing you. And in case you don’t know why you should be on Google+, Evo Terra explains.


The English Lake District has a rich literary history, with the likes of Beatrix Potter, Sir Walter Scott, and Jane Austen’s Elizabeth Bennett treading there. You can walk there, too. Here are 5 literary itineraries in the English Lake District.

Speaking of Jane Austen, singer Kelly Clarkson has been blocked from exporting a ring once owned by Jane Austen from England. Although Clarkson bought the ring at auction, the country’s cultural ministry is blocking the export.

For those of you who prefer tea to the almighty coffee, here are George Orwell’s 11 Golden Rules for making the perfect cup of tea.

The history of books is a fascinating subject. We can examine the minute details of the Lindisfarne Gospels’ decoration under a microscope, or we can admire a photo of an early 20th-century library in Tibet showing hundreds of early modern printer’s bookblocks.

That’s all for us this week! Enjoy the rest of your summer!

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