Posted by: Kerry Gans | May 18, 2017

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 05-18-2017

Posted by: J. Thomas Ross | May 16, 2017

Inspiration: Celebrate Nature! Celebrate Life!

Those who find beauty in all of nature will find themselves at one with the secrets of life itself.
– L. Wolfe Gilbert (songwriter)

pink dogwood, The Author Chronicles, J. Thomas. Ross, inspiration

Pink dogwood on a spring morning


After a six-month hiatus from The Author Chronicles, I finally feel I’m ready to return to our blogging rotation and agreed to write today’s post. I half-finished a post over the weekend and intended to finish and publish it today, but the perfect spring weather, after too many days of weather more typical for March than May, has sabotaged my efforts.

This morning when I opened the windows and the sliding glass door and walked across the fresh green grass to hang towels on the clothesline, the beauty of the day demanded notice. The sun in the cloudless, bright blue sky warmed my skin while the light breeze cooled me. Birds chirped, and yellow buttercups and butterflies added sparkle to the landscape. This day was no time to write about the craft or business of writing, so I put the post I’d planned aside until another time.

Today is a day for joy and inspiration. A day to recharge, to celebrate beauty and nature, to become “one with the secrets of life itself.”

After all, when you pare writing — or any art form — down to its essence, what is it but the artist’s attempt to express the basic truths of existence, the secrets of life itself?

And life itself is precious.

Song Sparrow bathing in a puddle, The Author Chronicles, J. Thomas Ross, inspiration

Song Sparrow bathing in a puddle


For the past six months I’ve mostly watched the natural pageant through windows. In fact, I’ve spent more and more time indoors during the past few years as I struggled with back problems. Since I’d had back problems off and on for a couple decades, I expected eventual improvement. Months passed with no relief, but I put off going to the doctor until the pain got so bad a year and a half ago that I could no longer stand it. [This delay is not something I’d recommend. Be smart and see a doctor instead of suffering for needless months.]

My doctor sent me to a pain management center, where the physiatrist started me on physical therapy. That made a huge difference but didn’t relieve all my symptoms, so I also saw a pain management specialist there and had a lower back MRI. The MRI showed so many problems in my entire lower spine that the doctors were amazed I hadn’t experienced more severe symptoms. I had an epidural injection, which made me feel almost normal for a month, but both doctors said I really needed surgery.

The idea of spinal surgery scared me. No way did I want that. Stubborn, independent person that I am, I figured I could manage without surgery. I had two more epidurals, three months apart, but once each soon wore off and my condition gradually worsened.

Over time I limited my activities more and more, because I could no longer do many of them and because the minimal things I could still do took longer and sapped my energy. I couldn’t garden. I couldn’t hike or walk very far without having to sit down. I managed to shop only in stores that had carts I could lean on. I had already retreated from social media and, other than blog posts, could no longer concentrate well enough to write. Finally fed up with living a half life, I accepted the need for surgery.

The surgeon recommended by the pain management center did not accept my insurance. That initially upset me but turned out to be fortunate. My condition was so complicated that I wanted the best, so I researched spinal surgeons who accepted my insurance. I chose Dr. D. Greg Anderson of Rothman Institute in Philadelphia. He did a good job explaining the steps he would take to correct my problems, and in December I underwent two surgeries, two days apart.

The recovery has been long and difficult, and it’s seemed months longer than it actually was. I’ve had to practice patience because I had no choice. For three months I was not to bend, twist, or lift heavy weights. After that, physical therapy and weekly massages helped loosen up the tight muscles and tendons and helped me regain strength. Only time will heal the numbness around the incisions. Although I’m not back to normal yet, I’m getting there. And the physical problems I’m overcoming now are the results of the surgery — the problems I had before the surgery have all been corrected. Hallelujah!

As I watch the the buds bloom and the birds build nests, I feel a special connection to nature as the world come back to life this spring. I too am returning to life. I can stand and walk more than five minutes without having to sit before my legs going numb and refuse to work right. My mind is no longer muddled by pain or post-surgical drugs. And I am so thankful for the medicinal advancements that have made correction of my condition possible.

So today, as I eagerly anticipate returning to writing and all my former activities, I say celebrate! Live life to the fullest. Enjoy its the beauty and become one with its secrets.


buttercups in the lawn, The Author Chronicles, J. Thomas Ross, inspiration

Buttercups in the lawn


Posted by: Kerry Gans | May 11, 2017

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 05-11-2017

Welcome to this week’s Top Picks Thursday! Trees, flowers, grass, and pollen are everywhere here—all the cars are a lovely yellow-green. But we have plenty of writing links that are nothing to sneeze at!

The owners of Tate Publishing have been arrested. If you are a Tate Publishing victim, Victoria Strauss tells you what you need to do to get in on the proceedings.

Ela Lourenco with expert advice on how to write in order to encourage reluctant and dyslexic readers.

A Kingston University study finds that people who read books are nicer people.


For the illustrators in our readership, Guiseppe Castellano shares some must-read illustrator advice.

For any writers interested in ghostwriting, John Peragine has 10 tips for successful ghostwriters.

Writers hope for originality and talent. Adam Grant’s TED talk discusses the creative process and the key to being original, and Jody Hedlund lists 10 traits that are more important than talent.

Writers deal a lot with voice—authorial voice, character voice, narrative voice, etc. Julie Glover asks if you have embraced your natural voice, Jo Eberhardt examines perspective and authorial voice, K.M. Weiland explores how to write in an authentic historical voice, and Mary Kole shows how to create children’s books with readaloud potential.

Plot provides a structure for your readers to follow. Jess Lourey discusses classic story structures and what they teach us about novel plotting, and Jane Lebak examines the pitfalls of the “and then” plot.

We all want to keep the readers turning the pages. S.C. Sharman has 4 proven ways to build suspense, Janice Hardy explains what tension is and how to make it work for you, and James Scott Bell reminds us that our characters must earn their way out of trouble.

There are all sorts of techniques we can use to make our story pop. Mary Kole discusses using compressed narration in fiction, while Sandra Beasley talks similes.

Proofreading is the final step in editing your work, and Leila Cruickshank has 5 rules for proofreading your own work.

Writing can be lonely, so it’s important to gather other people around us who feed our creativity. Joanna Penn tells us how to build a network of writer friends, and Kelly Miller shares 5 reasons why every author should join a book club.

We all have problems that keep us from being as productive as we would like to be. Anna Elliott explores some bad writing habits and how to break them, and Jamie Raintree asks: are you writing out of love or fear?

Diana Schwartz lists 15 things you probably didn’t know about publishing a book, and Anne R. Allen examines 10 writing career mistakes to avoid.


Don’t know whether to self-publish or go traditional? Laura Weymouth lays out the pros and cons of indie vs. traditional.

If you have your audio rights and aren’t sure what to do with them, Elizabeth S. Craig shares her experience expanding into audiobooks.

Rejection is a fact of life for authors. Leila Dewji explains why literary agents and publishers reject books.

Steve Laube answers the question: are agents necessary? If for you the answer is “yes”, Janet Reid discusses how to know if you’ve run out of agents to query, and what to ask on agent reference calls. Nathan Bransford shares some agent statistics on personalization, credentials, comp titles, and more.

No matter how you get published, you are going to need an author persona, also called an author brand. Anne Carley walks us through creating a clear writer persona, and Diana Forbes shows how to find your author brand.

Pitching is a part of almost every stage of publishing, from query letters to marketing. Michael Larson has the parts of a perfect pitch, while Dave Chilton reminds us that in marketing sometimes less is more.

In-person events are a good way to connect with readers. Annette Libeskind Berkovits tells how to build a better book launch, and Jesikah Sundin shares 5 tips for using swag to bond with readers and increase book sales.

Most of our readers will be found online. Frances Caballo breaks down Amazon ads for indie authors, Joel Friedlander lists 14 kinds of shareable content for bloggers, and Scott La Counte has 7 social media tips for authors.

Jami Gold examines the 6 elements of strategy to maximize your writing income, while Jane Friedman explores author marketing collectives by interviewing the Tall Poppy Writers.


Have fun discovering the most popular fictional character in each state.

That’s all for this week’s Top Picks Thursday! To all the moms out there, have a happy and relaxing Mother’s Day.

Posted by: Kerry Gans | May 9, 2017

Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Reality

When I tell people that I write science fiction and fantasy, sometimes I get the response, “Oh, how fun to just make up anything you want!” Many people, especially those who don’t read those genres, don’t understand that sci-fi and fantasy authors can’t just make up anything they want—our stories always have a reality base to them.

Perhaps the most obvious basis in reality is that sci-fi and fantasy are always, always about the human condition. Even if there is not a single human character in the book, those stories are always a reflection on some part of humanity. The stories speak to and examine universal human emotions and experiences.

Another reality check is science itself. Especially if you write hard science fiction, the science needs to be right and it needs to be real. Space opera or soft sci-fi can bend science a bit by using the conventions of that sub-genre, but the common-sense laws of nature usually prevail. Now, you could of course write a world or universe with physical laws very different than our own, but even that would require a good deal of research to know how a universe with your laws would evolve and grow.

We sci-fi and fantasy writers layer in the reality by extrapolating present-day experiences into more fantastic ones. For instance, that disoriented feeling you get when you leave a movie theater and don’t remember what day it is, what time it is? Perhaps that’s how it feels to be transported. Or to go through a wormhole. And what about space travel via spaceship? Just this weekend I flew most of the way across the country. When I left Philadelphia, it was raining and 60 degrees. Five hours later, I walked off the plane to a sunny 106 degree heat. That time and environment change is akin to starting on one planet and landing on another—so similar, in fact, it’s easy to imagine!

So on the most basic level, science fiction and fantasy are based in reality. Why? Because those touchstones of reality make your story relatable. They give the reader a way into the fantastic world you are weaving. Once your reader has a place to firmly stand, you can lead them into ever-stranger places, and they will follow eagerly and confidently.

Posted by: Kerry Gans | May 4, 2017

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 05-04-2017

Welcome to this week’s Top Picks Thursday! We seem to have skipped spring and gone directly to summer in our neck of the woods. But we still have links sprouting all over the place for you!

Writers deal with a lot of rejection and failure. Ruth Harris shows us how to cope with failure, while reminding us that rejection and failure are not the same thing.

Emma Straub discusses the power of independent bookstores, while Katherine Brooks lists 50 of the best indie bookstores in America (friend of the blog Farley’s is #10!).

Lisa Lucas, the executive director of the National Book Foundation, aims to be a cheerleader for literature.

Nobel Laureates Toni Morrison and Sir Arthur Lewis will have buildings named for them at Princeton University.

In this new political climate, poetry finds renewed importance.

Readers, want to support your favorite authors but are strapped for cash? Debbie Ohi has 12+ ways to support an author, and Jody Hedlund has 10 simple ways to support authors you love.


Stories all start with an idea. Elizabeth Sims shares 4 ways to develop a great story idea.

One way to get your head around your novel’s world is to map the world. Barbara O’Neal discusses the complex power of mapping the world of your novel.

Characters are the heart of your novel. Character motivation is key to drawing in readers. Lisa Betz asks: what does your protagonist want and why can’t he have it? Character diversity adds depth to your novel. Lucy V. Hay shows how to write better diverse characters.

Once we’ve got some words on the page, we need to make it sing. Kristen Lamb has techniques to help you when your story hits a wall, Ali Luke lists 7 straightforward techniques to write better, and Julie Glover shares 4 common copy editing issues to watch for.

So how can we get the most writing out of our day? Jen Matera suggests treating your writing like a full-time job, and Jane Lebak warns you to guard your time.

Although the internet can be a distraction, it also allows authors to share their thoughts and experiences with us easily. Marie Lamba explores her dual roles of agent and author, and Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o discusses being a “language warrior” on the occasion of receiving yet another major honor: the second annual LARB/UCR Creative Writing Lifetime Achievement Award.


If you self-publish, you need an ebook and a cover. David Kudler continues his ebook formatting series with some fun CSS tricks for ebooks, and Erika Liodice explores how to create a book cover that connects with readers.

If you are seeking an agent, sometimes an agent will reply to reading your full with a “revise and resend” (R&R) letter. Usually this is good news, but Janet Reid discusses what to do when you don’t want to make the changes suggested in the R&R.

Life happens, and sometimes writing becomes the last thing on our priority list, even when we have a contract. Janet Reid talks about what to do as an author when your life goes off the rails.

Our online presence sells books these days. Penny Sansevieri shows how to use a resource we all have to raise our profile by sprucing up our Amazon Author Central page.


Check out 11 bookish feelings we need words for.

Librarians learn a lot in school, but Patricia Elzie shares some unexpected lessons from library school.

So just how many millions did Johnny Depp pay to fire Hunter S. Thompson’s ashes from a cannon?

A new poem by Yusef Komunyakaa is commissioned to honor the soldiers who fight America’s wars.

From Stephen King in Pet Sematary to John le Carré in The Night Manager, authors who’ve made cameos in the TV and film adaptations of their books.

A look at how Woodrow Wilson’s propaganda machine changed American journalism.

Cormac McCarthy ruminates on dreams and the evolution of language.

Charles Dickens called this machine “a monster”, but it helped London become what it is today.

Check out these tiny hand-bound books made by the Brontes as children.

If you are researching slavery, this amazing digital archive of slave voyages details the largest forced migration in history, with over 36,000 slave voyages documented.

When you preserve the past, you preserve the good and the bad. Kristi Westberg walks us through preserving the signs of censorship in a 16th century astronomy book.

That’s it for this week’s Top Picks Thursday!


Posted by: Gwendolyn Huber | May 2, 2017


I’ve been thinking about what’s important in life. Should I choose paid work (important for paying those pesky bills) over non paid work (important to the spirit), and when do I sleep? Where is wise King Solomon when you need him?  But wait a minute. Do I have to choose?

Perhaps if I make myself accountable to someone besides myself I will find a way to use my time more efficiently.

I’m already very efficient, but maybe it’s possible that somewhere there is more.

I do paid work first because I have made a commitment to do it and if I don’t show up, someone holds me accountable, and then there are those bills. Sleep or lack of sleep holds me accountable in its own way – if I don’t get enough sleep then I get sick. I currently have a strong reason to keep good health habits. I go to yoga classes because if I don’t do yoga, pain holds me accountable, and if I do yoga on my own, I’m likely to lie down some where part way through the hour. I attend my band practices and scheduled gigs because I love singing but my band mates and audiences also hold me accountable.

If I want to make myself as a writer accountable to a regular schedule, I will need some ingredients

  1. Someone to make a commitment to – a writing partner, a writing group, a friend, or some online entity. Or perhaps a blog audience.


  1. I’ll need to give myself regular deadlines. Once a week seems like it would be a reasonable deadline.


  1. I’ll need to keep in mind why writing is so important. Although paying bills makes life much more pleasant than not paying bills, I am not on this earth to pay bills!


  1. Other important parts of this plan are something to write. Like a short story or a blog.

So now I have a rough plan and I realize things could get messy, will almost definitely get messy. I will put things out in the world before they’re fully formed and I won’t like that at all. But I will like the improvement I’ll see when I’m more productive.

Posted by: Kerry Gans | April 27, 2017

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 04-27-2017

Welcome to the last Top Picks Thursday of April!

Gabriel García Márquez, conjurer of literary magic, dies at 87.

The Man Booker International Prize 2017 shortlist is announced.

Writers, beware—Robin Storey explores the health risks of being a writer.

Ellen Oh talks about the power of representation in literature.

The NYPL Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture acquires James Baldwin papers.

While The Outsiders was groundbreaking, it didn’t create YA fiction.

Reviews are hard to come by, especially for self-published books. Roz Morris opens a dialogue with reviewers about their ban on reviewing self-published books.

Here are 15 images that prove librarians are the cleverest people ever.


Writing a memoir is unlike writing fiction—yet it’s not quite non-fiction, either. Bahar Gholipour explores writing a memoir as a strange psychological trip through your past.

All writers do some research for their books. Morgan Gist Macdonald shares 5 signs you’re doing too much research and it’s time to get back to writing.

Beginnings are hard. Sometimes it’s hard to begin the writing process. Laura Weymouth weighs the merits of plotting vs. pantsing. Sometimes it’s hard to being the actual story. Anne R. Allen lists 6 ways not to start your novel.

Characters are the heart of every story, but they can be difficult. Elizabeth S. Craig dissects the use of unpleasant characters in mysteries, while Jungle Red Writers talk about picking names that fit your story’s historical time.

When editing, there are issues large and small to deal with. Jami Gold discusses re-envisioning: how to fix big problems with small changes; Kris Spisak demystifies often-confused words starting with A, and Lee Lofland gives us a handy murder scene checklist.

There’s nothing like some insider information to help you get through this writing journey. Chuck Wendig shares 25 lessons he’s learned after 5 years and 20 books, and John Scalzi explains 10 things you don’t know about authors on book tour.


When you self-publish, your price is up to you. Nathan Bransford discusses how to determine your price point when you self-publish.

No matter which way you publish, much of the publicity will be up to you. Joan Stewart shares the best way to follow up with publicity contacts.

Agent Janet Reid answers a writer who wants to know if it is possible to be a good writer and still get rejected, and new agent Cari Lamba of Jennifer Dichiara Agency is looking for clients.

Blogs and social media are the way many writers interact with their readers. Joel Freidlander has 3 questions to help bloggers with content creation, and Lisa Hall-Wilson shows how to grow your organic reach on Facebook.


Most writers are huge readers. Zoraida Córdova has 15 weird things you do while reading that are actually totally normal.

When ancient manuscripts saves lives. Medieval medical books could hold the recipe for new antibiotics.

A Breaking Bad writer and producer is behind a new Anne of Green Gables TV series.

An unlikely pairing: when Bram Stoker met Walt Whitman.

The Oxford Dictionaries explore deadline and seven other words that originated during the American Civil War.

Excited researchers find a second parchment copy of the Declaration of Independence.

Here are 18 jokes you’ll only get if you’ve read Shakespeare.

Looking for inspiration? For $100/hour, you can rent the bedroom where Emily Dickinson composed her entire life’s work.

Most people think alcoholism killed Ernest Hemingway, but a psychiatrist argues that multiple concussions may have sped Hemingway’s demise.

This week in literature: Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales may have taken place this week in April.

That’s it for this week’s Top Picks Thursday! See you in May!

Posted by: Kerry Gans | April 20, 2017

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 04-20-2017

Welcome to this week’s Top Picks Thursday! Many of us are on spring break this week. If you are, I hope you are having fun and relaxing!

The New Yorker writer Hilton Als wins the Pulitzer Prize for criticism, a list of other Pulitzer winners, and a more in-depth review of some of the African-American winners.

Lee Wind reminds us that April is National Poetry Month.

The book world has recently lost two writers: Mari Evans, poet of black Midwestern freedom, died March 10th, and Patricia C. McKissack, honored children’s author, died at age 72.

Want to read outside your genre but aren’t sure which books in other genres are the best to start with? James Wallace Harris talks about the Genreflecting Advisory Series.

The ALA has announced the Top Ten Most Challenged Books of 2016, listen to an interview with the founder of We Need Diverse Books Ellen Oh, read this list of books dealing with the refugee experience for middle-grade and YA readers, and a library in New York City purposely had low windows to lure youths who “did not care to be outdone” by kids they saw reading inside.

Got an out-of-control book collection? Katie and Kelly McMenamin  tell how to organize your book collection your way.


For memoir writers: Ange de Lumier has 6 points to consider when writing a memoir.

K.M. Weiland defines what it means to move the plot, Colleen M. Story discusses how to use a writer’s intuition to strike creative gold, and Becca Puglisi examines why readers stop reading.

Characters—our stories would be nothing without them. Jami Gold defines who the protagonist is in a story, Alison Green Myers discusses character development through music, ESL Drummer takes the character interview to new depths, Robin Rivera explores the conundrum of killing nice characters, James Scott Bell talks about characters having the courage to change, and Kathryn Craft shows how to amplify your story’s power through groups.

Dialogue, properly written, can make your story sparkle. Janine Savage gives tips on adverbial dialogue tags, and Jen Matera advises speaking your dialogue to get the voices right.

Once we’re done writing, we need to make our prose shine. Larry Brooks discusses the common mistake of overwriting, Kristen Lamb examines 3 newbie mistakes, Jami Gold shows is how to fix bad writing habits, Melissa Donovan explains how to use the ellipsis, and Lisa Lepki tells us what editing software can teach you about writing.

Kassandra Lamb debates whether or not to write short, and Liz Michalski examines the role of the subconscious in our writing.

Jeff Goins lists the 7 differences between amateurs and professionals, and Bill Ferris dissects the social contract for writers.

Writers want less stress in our lives. Shay Goodman explore how recognizing patterns in your life can make you more efficient and less stressed, and Nathan Bransford reminds us that its okay to feel emotions other than what society tells us we should feel about events in our life.

Lucky for us, many writers are free with their writing advice. Emily Temple lists Kurt Vonnegut’s greatest writing advice, Chuck Wendig deals with writing blurbs for books, and Amber Love talks about writing, comics, and more.

Take a peek inside audio book narrating as David Kempf interviews audio book narrator Ray Porter.


If you’re interested in freelancing, Jane Friedman says freelance writing IS a viable career and don’t listen to naysayers.

Form rejections can make writers crazy. Jessica Faust gives the top 10 reasons why BookEnds Agency rejects manuscripts, and Parul Macdonald shares 6 myths and truths of what an editor at a publishing house looks for.

Susan Spann lays out how to request a reversion of publishing rights.

Steve Laube examines some ways to grow your market.

The book blurb is your chance to hook the reader. Rayne Hall shows how to write the perfect blurb, and Beth Bacon tells how to generate more book sales with a key-word powered blurb.

How to get the word out about your book? G.D. Harper does a case study on how to maximize Facebook advertisements, and Frances Caballo outlines many ways to get attention for your book on Amazon.

Social media can be a help or a hindrance to writers. Janet Reid explains that you don’t have to be everywhere on social media—just where your readers are, and Melissa Donovan shows how to use Pinterest for writing ideas and inspiration.


Lindsey Bahr reviews the Emily Dickinson tale A Quiet Passion, while Lynn Neary talks further about the film.

Check out these 30 enamel pins for book lovers.

Three libraries claim to be the oldest library in Texas—and they’re all kinda right.

Raquel D’Apice has issues with Goodnight Moon that many of us can relate to.

David Cole reveals a case of poetry in the courtroom.

How knowledgeable are you? Can you pass a 3rd grade grammar test? Can you get a 5 on this AP English exam? How good are you with synonyms?

Renaissance writers were the original rock stars, and now you can read more of their Renaissance literary treasures online; Michael Freemantle traces the history of Gowland’s Lotion, a popular but toxic 18th-19th medical remedy mentioned by Jane Austen; and check out this miniature manuscript in a circular format.

That’s all for this week’s Top Picks Thursday! See you next week!

Posted by: Matt Q. McGovern | April 19, 2017

Getting into character

I recently finished reading the book ‘Dropped Names’, by Frank Langella, the accomplished actor.

I’ve always enjoyed the interviews I’ve seen of Frank Langella over the years, particularly his description of the devotion to the craft of acting. This actor with extensive experience of the stage can be very soft-spoken, causing one to listen carefully during his interviews. His voice is easy to listen to, and reading his book was easier still because I could hear him saying the words.

I have written before about my strange habit of flash-reading, or reading for only a minute or so. An activity that is carried about exclusively on the phone, I read Dropped Names over the last two years, mostly in elevators or waiting for the bus. Only recently did I actually sit down at home to read the last of it in a more conventional setting.

Of all the books I’ve read in this very temporary fashion, his was amongst the easiest to pick up where I left off each time I would read. I attribute that to having heard Frank Langella speak before (in a non-acting context) and his book being written in a way that very closely matched his speaking style.

This got me thinking about the importance of reading your writing out loud. Each reader that reads your book will have a natural reading voice in their head, whichever it is. Obviously we would all hope our writing does this naturally for readers. Reading a few scenes out loud in different voices (our own voice but with different inflections) might give us a better idea of how our story sounds.

I wonder now if Frank Langella, or some other voices I can think of, have read fiction professionally. Having a favorite voice or two would be good to keep in mind while you’re reading your own writing out loud; it may cause you to change your writing to benefit it.

There were other observations I made from the book that pertain to writing. Frank spoke about various approaches to acting as well as giving many brief but poignant profile descriptions of people who interacted with this deep craft. It’s easy, as a result of the reading, to start thinking of the craft that pertains to writing and the various approaches there are, as well as thinking of the best approaches to the industry of writing.

Overall, I took from this book an underlying theme of “how to act”, as in how to act in a certain situation as opposed to on the stage or behind the camera. This comes from Frank as well as a number of people he talks about and I can easily parlay that to my own thoughts on writing.

I would recommend this book to any writer that likes a book that’s not about writing per se, but one that easily gets them thinking of it.

Posted by: Kerry Gans | April 13, 2017

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 04-13-2017

Welcome to this week’s Top Picks Thursday! We’re heading into Spring Break here, so if you’ve got vacation, enjoy!

The winners of the Pulitzer Prizes, including Colson Whitehead’s Underground Railroad .

Speaking of awards, Joanna Penn discusses what the validation of awards means to writers.

Diversity comes in all shapes and sizes (that’s rather it’s definition, isn’t it?). George Takei is writing a graphic novel about his experience in a Japanese internment camp during World War II, Native Realities Press has rebooted Jon Proudstar’s Tribal Force, the first all-Native superhero comic, and college student Kaya Thomas creates “We Read Too” mobile directory of 600 books that prioritize diversity.

Kim Savage explains how she kept writing after her muse died.

We love our bookstores. Chelsea Hensley shares 5 etiquette tips for the bookstore, and Epic Reads hosts Bookstagrams of beautiful bookstores.

A study shows that liberals and conservatives read totally different books about science.

Help support these stories of public school librarians by SLRI productions with a Kickstarter campaign.


Although we collect mainly writing posts, this SCBWI post has tricks and tips for the illustrators among us.

Want to write your memoir but don’t know where to start? Cyndy Etler shows how to use lists to write a memoir.

The opening of your book is arguably the most important patch of real estate in your story. Hallie Ephron describes the importance of a strong opening scene, Jennifer Probst explains the use of powerful hooks to snag a reader, and James Scott Bell advises creating mystery, not confusion, in the opening.

There are many craft elements you can use to spice up your story. S.C. Sharman discusses when and where to use foreshadowing, Diana Hurwitz talks about injecting humor, Kristen Lamb plunges into deep POV, and Chuck Wendig rushes to defend the semicolon.

K.M. Weiland shows how to write stories your readers will remember, Angela Ackerman delves into the character motivation of gaining fulfillment by giving back, and Chuck Wendig examines “character agency”.

Delilah Dawson talks writing Star Wars and Adventure Time, Chuck Wendig reminds us that we can write at any age, and Shaunta Grimes has 25 habits to make you a better writer.

We all get discouraged sometimes. J.K. Rowling talks about how to deal with failure, while David Barnett says that two unpublished books does not make you a failed author—it makes you a quitter.


Want to freelance, but are uneasy? Linda Formichelli and Diana Burrell take on 4 freelancing myths holding you back.

In self-publishing, Joel Friedlander tackles the fake news about self-publishing, and Ron Vitale show how to identify your audience via Google Anaytics.

Janet Reid explains how to pick between multiple agent offers when they all seem good, and Nathan Bransford demystifies what literary agents do.

Good marketing reaches your readers and connects to them emotionally. Casey Demchak discusses the core messaging marketing toolkit for authors, Judith Briles shows how your media book pitch can open doors, and Anne R. Allen looks at the pros and cons of author newsletter vs. author blog.

Writers have a love-hate relationship with Goodreads. Sonja Yoerg explains why Goodreads is your friend, and Barb Drozdowich shares 6 ways for indie authors to use Goodreads to network.


Finally! Someone to correct all those misspelled signs! Meet the Grammar Vigilante: Defender Of Truth, Justice And The Grammarian Way.

In a wonderful history find, the Smithsonian and Library of Congress purchase a rare 1860s photo of Harriet Tubman.

Ever wonder what the most famous book that takes place in your state is? Wonder no more! Check out the most famous book that takes place in every state.

TV opening titles have evolved into mini-movies.

Did you know these 23 movies you probably didn’t know were based on books.

In 1902, a Frenchman imagined what women might look like if they started taking up “male” professions.

World War I soldiers and aide personnel’s thoughts get heard in an exhibit of WWI military letters voicing the sorrow of fighting a war.

Many people love the scent of old books—but just how can that scent be described? Erin Blakemore follows the quest to better describe the scent of old books.

An accidental auction discovery deepens the mystery surrounding the infamous “Rice portrait” supposedly of a young Jane Austen.

Learn how Charles Dickens fought to keep Shakespeare’s house from being purchased by the dastardly American showman P.T. Barnum.

That’s all for this week’s Top Picks Thursday! See you next week!


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