Posted by: Kerry Gans | November 12, 2015

Top Picks Thursday 11-12-2015

As mid-November creeps up on us, we welcome you to this week’s Top Picks Thursday!

Halloween has passed, but these articles caught our eye this week: What if your favorite books were Halloween candy? and A Halloween Cocktail Recipe from Shakespeare Not Stirred.

For those participating in NaNoWriMo, Shaunda Kennedy Wenger reminds you to consider your setting, and Katharine Grubb lists the top 10 NaNoWriMo emergency prompts for the overwhelmed.

Check out the New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Books of 2015.

For all the talk of diversity in the arts, Anna Holmes wonders: Has “diversity” lost its meaning?

The value of good writing communities cannot be overstated. Social media makes it easy to find them, but Nancy J. Cohen reminds us of an often overlooked resource—the value of listserves.

In dark news, 4 Hong Kong publishers known for books critical of the Chinese regime are missing.


We focus mostly on fiction and prose here, but there’s more to writing than fiction. Greg White reveals how to write for television, and Lisa Lepki shares 11 things you need to know about writing a memoir.

Connecting with our readers is the key to hooking them. K.M. Weiland has 6 steps to creating a fantastic narrative voice, and James A. Rose lists 12 techniques for emotionally connecting with your readers.

Sometimes the small things—little writing techniques or details of a setting—make or break a story. Janice Hardy points out that those pieces of prose that just feel “off” may be the result of faulty parallelism, James Royce Patterson has 5 ways to improve your writing’s flow, and Karen A. Wyle gives us the details on juries: how they work, how they’re chosen, and what lawyers handle them best.

There are many ways writers endear their characters to the reader. Donald Maass shows how positivity and protagonists combine to inspire readers, Steven James lists 5 moral dilemmas that make character stories better, C.S. Lakin tells us how to show through your character’s senses, and K.M. Weiland shares how to write funny dialogue.

Editing is a part of writing—sometimes it’s editing our own manuscripts, sometimes we edit for other people. Anna Elliott tells us the do’s and don’ts of editing for ourselves, while Janice Hardy shows us the difference between a writing problem and a “not for me” issue when editing for others. Steven Gillis explains that the art of writing is rewriting, and Sherry D. Ficklin reminds us to never, ever, turn in an unedited first draft to an agent, publisher, or any other publishing professional.

Writing can feel like a miracle—or it can feel like pulling teeth. Scott Myers discusses what to do when you feel out of touch with your creative energy.

We writers face a long list of unique career issues, some internal, some external. One is the inability to let go of what’s already published—we always fret about the mistakes we made. Huma Qureshi reflects on the pain of hindsight in publishing. Another issue is when you’re writing something…and something just like it comes out. Mary Kole explains what to do when someone is publishing your idea. And sometimes the pressure comes from people thinking the genre you write in is not “real writing.” Author David Mitchell discusses genre snobbery as a “bizarre act of self-mutilation.”

James Scott Bell tells us how to be a prolific writer, Jan Ellison shares 9 practical tricks for writing your novel, Tracy O’Neill gathers best writing tips from multiple authors, Sophie Masson explores getting the most out of mentoring from both sides of the fence, and Chuck Wendig cuts to the chase and reminds us that writing advice is bullshit.


If you are self-publishing, it’s all on you. Jami Gold asks: What’s your release plan?

Are you trying to break into literary magazines? Lincoln Michel has the ultimate guide to getting published in a literary magazine.

Ever wonder about those books selling for a penny on Amazon? Dan Nosowitz explores the world of penny booksellers.

Katie Shea Boutillier shares what she has learned in the last 4 years as an agent.

Many writers shy away from marketing. Ed Cyzewski shows how to promote a book without making yourself miserable, Diana Urban gives us marketing tips for sequels, and Lynn Griffin tells us how to help your fiction find an audience.

Paul White reveals the websites no writer or author can do without, and Anne R. Allen shares 5 more delusions that can block writers’ careers.


Many people like to write in libraries when I don’t write at home. Lucy Mangan lays out some rules for working in a modern library.

Author’s houses can give a glimpse into their minds and personalities. Terri Windling explores Agatha Christie’s spacious Devon estate, while Barry Yourgrau digs into the clutter Ernest Hemingway left behind.

Did you know that Oscar Wilde had a short stint as editor of a high-end women’s magazine that supported women’s rights and female contributors at a time when that was not looked upon kindly?

Letters are a window into their times. First is a Medieval love letter (with a man urging his love to eat her meat), and second is Mark Twain’s first letter composed on that “new-fangled writing machine”—a typewriter.

Setting is so important to a story. See how London fog seeped into fiction.

Doing research for a book? Now you can Ask Smithsonian. This person asked: How do you make a mummy?

Sometimes it’s the details of bookmaking that make a book memorable. Here is a lovely example of marbling in a 19th century book. And then there is a spider embedded in a math book from the year 1650.

That’s all for this week’s Top Picks Thursday! Join us next week for more writerly links!


  1. Thank you for linking to Mystery Mondays and C.S. Lakin’s tips on writing.


  2. Reblogged this on KRISTINA STANLEY and commented:
    Thanks to The Author Chronicles for the shout out to Mystery Mondays and to C.S Lakin’s advice on how to show through your characters’ senses.


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