Posted by: Kerry Gans | June 16, 2016

Top Picks Thursday! For Readers and Writers 06-16-2016

Before we begin: Our thoughts are with the people of Orlando and all the loved ones of the victims of the multiple tragedies of the past week.

AC at the PWCWelcome to this week’s Top Picks Thursday! This past weekend, J. Thomas Ross and I attended the Philadelphia Writers’ Conference. You can check out our daily recaps here, here, and here, and J. Thomas’ Tips and Pix post here.

In very sad news, author Lois Duncan has died. The author of numerous YA suspense books such as I Know What You Did Last Summer and children’s books such as Hotel for Dogs, her passion in later years was largely taken up by the unsolved murder of her daughter Kait. Her books Who Killed My Daughter? and One To The Wolves: On the Trail of a Killer detail their long fight for justice. Lois was kind enough to visit us here on the Author Chronicles when we were still new bloggers, and I for one will miss her wit, charm, and vivaciousness.

Congratulations to the 2016 Horn Book Award winners.

Most authors worry about plagiarism, and so do bloggers. Rose Scott shares tools to keep your blog content safe from plagiarists and duplication.

Audiobooks are selling well these days, and we all know about Amazon’s Audible platform. David Markowitz discusses ListenUp, a platform competing with Audible.

In the wake of the Arab Spring, a new wave of dystopian, surrealist fiction  has taken root in the Middle East.

Steven Spohn explains the controversy over Me Before You in his post I Am Not Your Plot Device.


The opening of a book is a spot of existential angst for most writers. Jennie Nash explains how to start your book in the right place, while Elizabeth Fais explores the magic of great beginnings.

The main goal of all writers is to keep readers immersed in the story. One way to do that is write cinematically, as Deborah Raney says, while another is to make sure our reality is believable. To that end, Joe Broadmeadow tells us how to write realistic crime scenes. Janice Hardy discusses hooking readers’ minds and hearts, Chuck Wendig explores what makes a damn good story, and Patrick Cole shows how writers can develop emotional connections between reader and hero.

Our heroes are our focal points, of course, with other interesting characters in on the action. K.M. Weiland looks at the common writing mistake of creating one-dimensional characters, Stephanie Norman has 8 reasons to make your hero less than perfect, Cara Lopez Lee explores when to fire your protagonist, August Wilson advises not to censor your characters, and Elaine Veits reminds us of the dangers of “as-you-know-Bob” dialogue.

Writing is re-writing, as the saying goes, and many writers do not enjoy this editing phase. Staurt Horwitz explains how to finish a book in three drafts, Melissa Donovan reminds us to eliminate redundancies, Tiffany Watt Smith finds obscure words for even rarer feelings, and Nancy Lin has helpful online editing tools.

Suffering from writer’s block? Micah Solomon says there’s no such thing as writer’s block, while Farrah Penn shares 15 ways published writers defeat writers’ block.

Julie Eshbaugh gives us 5 steps to becoming a writer, and Piper Bayard discusses how to learn writing craft for lone wolves and writers on a budget.

Sometimes we begin a work only to have it peter out in the middle—is the work doomed, or is there hope? Drew Chial thinks there is hope and shows how to swap the light bulbs of inspiration, but beware if your novel shows any of Kim C. Mill’s 7 signs your novel is doomed. And all of us can recognize ourselves in the 5 Stages of Writer’s Sanity Checklist.

Allie Larking explains why studying acting is good for writers, Carlie Kercheval lays out 8 reasons every mom should write a book, and Karen Russell discusses balancing horror and humor.

These two posts straddle craft and marketing. Alex J. Cavanaugh examines how writing for anthologies can advance our writing career, and Joel Friedman talks about the anatomy of bonus material.


With the rise of self-publishing, more and more authors are becoming small businesses unto themselves. Renee Regent asks: Are you ready to be an entrepreneur? If you are, you will need to know the fine details of every aspect of the publishing business—including the definition of a book’s trim size.

But how do you know if it’s better to self-publish or go with a small publisher? Alison Williams shares a small publisher’s checklist to help you decide.

If you still want to go the traditional route, Rochelle Deans weighs in with what to leave out of a query.

There are so many facets to how we as authors present ourselves to the world. Porter Anderson gives author photo advice, Zoe M. McCarthy has confidence-building public speaking tips for introverted writers, Sharon Bially explains why book PR can have the most impact BEFORE you land an agent, and Doris-Maria Heilmann shows how the last pages sell your book.

There are many, many marketing strategies available to authors today. Fauzia Burke lists 5 online marketing trends authors should consider, Alita Harvey-Rodriguez asks if marketing automation could be hurting your blog-reader relationships, Michele Giacomini shares 5 unique ways to market your first book, and Julie Musil discusses enlisting a pre-release team.

So many online platforms to keep up with… Jennifer Bardsley reports on Facebook rules authors must know, Davonne Burns gives us 10 tips for making Tumblr work for writers, and Savvy Book Writers explores Twitter lists.


Those of us who read the Little House on the Prairie series, or read any number of Little Golden Books, are familiar with the illustrations of Garth Williams. Sarah Larson looks back at the career of Garth Williams, the artist responsible for taking Stuart Little out of a zoot suit.

All of Jane Austen’s fiction manuscripts have been brought together at last—digitally. You can study them for free online. Sophie Gilbert draws stunning parallels between today’s reality TV stars and Jane Austen’s 19th-century heroines, and Whit Stillman discusses directing Love & Friendship, an adaptation of a novella by Austen.

Neil Gaiman waxes poetic about his favorite horror movie.

Christie’s is set to auction a “legendary” first edition of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland—one of just 22 surviving copies.

Janet Malcolm explores the furor surrounding the more recent translations of Anna Karenina.

A twice-stolen letter written by Charles Darwin returns to the Smithsonian.

BuzzFeed compiles 41 of the most suspenseful books you’ll ever read.

Did you know there was a real Land of Oz here in America? The Land of Oz theme park in North Carolina will temporarily reopen its emerald gates in June.

Lesley M.M. Blume examines how Hemingway’s bad behavior inspired a generation.

Using the stars, a group of astronomers have dated one of Sappho’s poems, BBC collected 7 Walt Whitman quotes we should never forget, and the LA Review of Books reviews the fiction book Digging Up Milton by Jennifer Wallace.

Sometimes books hold secrets in unlikely places. Jason Daley opens up the “hidden library” discovered on the spines of Medieval books.

That’s it for this Top Picks Thursday! We will see you next week!






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