Posted by: Kerry Gans | November 3, 2016

Top Picks Thursday! For Readers & Writers 11-3-2016

Princeton Library Children's area

Princeton Library Children’s area

Welcome to the first Top Picks Thursday of November! As we recover from the Halloween sugar-coma, we plunge into the yearly madhouse that is NaNoWriMo—National Novel Writing Month.

Angela Ackerman has 5 NaNoWriMo hacks to keep the words flowing and Meghan Ball shares 10 writing guides to help navigate NaNoWriMo, but Janice Hardy has 5 reasons NOT to participate in NaNoWriMo.

Have you wanted to join The Authors Guild but weren’t eligible? Eric Myers discusses the new rules that allow unpublished authors to join The Authors Guild.

In a nod to Halloween, Peter Lindfield explores how Gothic buildings got associated with Halloween and the supernatural.

Tuck Everlasting author Natalie Babbitt has died at age 84.

What to know about Shakespeare and his newly-credited collaborator Christopher Marlowe.


Princeton Library

Princeton Library

If you’ve ever your novel turned into comic books, Grant Alter reveals his method for adapting novels into comic books.

Author voice is something we writers hear about constantly, although sometimes defining what author voice is can be tricky. James Scott Bell investigates the perils of author voice.

The point of view used in the story is part of author voice. John Gilstrap discusses taming POV by thinking of camera placement, Mary Kole shows how to get around 1st-person POV limitations, and Janice Hardy explains how filtering the POV affects show, don’t tell.

Zoe M. McCarthy reminds us that readers thrive on tension, so we should always make it worse. However, nothing in our novel should happen without sufficient causality or the reader loses faith in the story. Steven James shows how to craft a believable chain of events, while K.M. Weiland tells us how to write backstory that matters—that helps cause the events of the present.

No author sets out to write a one-dimensional villain, yet many come out flat in early drafts. K.M. Weiland explores how to properly motivate your bad guy—and make his character pop at the same time.

Words are everything to a writer—they are our medium. Stephen Wilbers reminds us that the key to great writing is to make every word count. Kim English shows how to edit out the words that don’t add anything to the story, and Ruth Harris directs us in 11 ways to find slang, jargon, insider, and lingo words to make our manuscripts sing.

Writers often are looking for ways to be more efficient and creative. Ginger Moran urges us to break large writing projects into smaller components to get them done, and Dan Blank gives us ways to deal with a creative slump. Sometimes, as A.A. Abbott says, the key to being more efficient and more creative is as simple as getting more sleep.

The great thing about a writing community is that we can share the things we’ve learned with others. Heather Webb explores what we can learn about fiction from cute videos on social media, Chelsey Pippin collates 33 authors’ best advice for aspiring writers, and Nathan Bransford has 4 tips for extroverted writers—an often over-looked writerly demographic.


Princeton Library balcony

Princeton Library balcony

There are 2 main paths to publishing these days—self-publishing and traditional publishing. If you go the self-publishing route, you are responsible for everything, all the little details like ISBN, copyright, and vendor issues (as discussed by Joel Friedlander), sales figures (as defined by Janet Reid), and, of course, the book product itself. Julie-Ann Harper explains how to format a book with DIY design tools and services.

If you use the traditional route, you usually need an agent and someone else is your publisher. Jane Friedman clarifies 3 things traditional publishers likely WON’T do for you, and Mary Kole tells you what to expect from an agent.

When submitting to agents and editors, we are often faced with long waits for responses and very often with rejection. Steve Laube ponders how long you should wait for an answer from an agent or editor, Sierra Godfrey lists 3 reasons your manuscript gets rejected by agents, and Janet Reid has a satisfying rant about how requiring personalization in query letters is bunk.

Much of book marketing falls to authors, for better or worse, and many of us are not comfortable with it. Deanna Cabinian shows how to start networking locally, Janet Reid discusses what to do about market saturation, and Carla King talks book marketing with virtual assistants and media kits.

Social media is a big way for authors to connect with readers. Ricardo Fayet explains how to carefully use Reddit to market books, and Angela Ponsford shares 5 Facebook advertising features you probably didn’t know existed. Some of us, however, may be slightly sick of social media, so Frances Caballo lists 10 steps to revive our social media enthusiasm.


If you get giddy over bookstores, take a look at the fabulous El Ateneo Grand Splendid bookstore in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Or go gaga over the soon-to-reopen al-Qarawiyyin Library, the world’s oldest continuously operating library.

From Abraham Lincoln to Elizabeth Kolbert, the 10 books that shaped President Obama.

English stage and screen actress Harriet Walter writes an open letter to Shakespeare.

How mathematics uncovered the truth behind the world’s greatest literary hoax and Ossian, the “Homer of the North.”

Although we five chroniclers don’t live close to each other, we do live in the same region — southern and central New Jersey and southeastern Pennsylvania — and we’re going to show our support for libraries by concluding with a photo of a local library for the next several weeks (until we run out of them!) This week, we’ll give a shout out to the Princeton Library in Princeton, NJ.

Princeton Library

Princeton Library

That’s it for this week’s Top Picks Thursday! See you next week, when the election season will finally be over!




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