Posted by: Kerry Gans | July 9, 2020

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 07-09-2020

Welcome to this week’s Top Picks Thursday! We hope you all enjoyed a safe and happy 4th of July.

We all know the 4th is America’s birthday, but July 1st is the anniversary of America’s first free public library in 1731.

When you’re at the library, let your kids get audiobooks if they want. The UK’s National Library Trust research finds benefits of audiobooks for kids.

A founding father of Chicano literature, Rudolpho Anaya died at age 82.

Mary Kole is looking to hire an editorial assistant.

In these troubled times, writing can sometimes feel useless or frivolous. Donald Maass reminds us that writing is of utmost importance when we are unsafe; Lisa Tener says when writing for social change, meet your readers where they are; Greg Mitchell shows us the power of writing in unsettled times by revisiting John Hersey’s groundbreaking “Hiroshima” article; and Priya Satia reveals that George Orwell’s time as a police officer in colonial India shaped his views on freedom of speech and individualism.

CRAFT

To some of us, poetry can seem like another language. Susan D’Agostino explains why some mathematicians think they’re poets, and Katharine Grubb debunks the 5 lies she believed about poetry writing.

Writers hope their writing changes readers, but sometimes our writing changes us. Sophie MacKintosh writes in praise of the dream-logic of speculative fiction, and Lucy Mitchell explores the magic that comes from writing about resilient characters.

Getting started can be the hardest part for some of us. E.G. Radcliff lays out a 3-level strategy for researching a book, Stavros Halvatzis explains using twin premises to plan your story, and Katharine Grubb has 6 more requirements for the first pages of your novel.

Writers need to move the reader through the story without jarring them out of the fictive dream. Janice Hardy shows how to write smooth transitions, and Tiffany Yates Martin demonstrates how to weave in backstory without stalling your story.

Characters need to grab the reader and not let them go. Nathan Bransford reminds us that even minor characters need to want something, The Right Writing urges us to vary characters’ reactions to tragedy, and Becca Puglisi suggests using the conflict of failing at something and tells us the character-building detail writers shouldn’t overlook.

First we write, then we edit! There are many ways to get the feedback we need. Linda S. Clare looks at critique skills for writers, Andrea Merrell explains why a professional edit costs so much, Robert Lee Brewer demystifies canon vs. cannon, Anne R. Allen warns of the dangers of episodic writing, and Jami Gold discusses how we can learn and improve our writing skills.

Thankfully, in the age of the internet, we have many resources to writing advice open to us. Garry Rogers tells us how not to write a police report, Emily Temple shares Vladimir Nabokov’s best writing advice, Larry Brooks does writing math (craft plus art equals performance), and James Scott Bell urges us to write what is unreal but true.

To motivate us, Robert Lee Brewer collates 10 terrific quotes from E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web, Elizabeth Hartl shows how to overcome imposter syndrome, and Sherri Leimkuhler lists 7 tips for writing success and sanity.

Success isn’t always easy, but hard work will get you pretty far. Melinda Copp tells us how to make this your best writing year ever, Paula Munier has publishing proverbs you should know, and Shanna Swendson explores writing through difficult times.

BUSINESS

Jim Milliot reports that Ingram is investing millions to upgrade its global printing and distribution network.

Love books but don’t want to buy from Amazon? Sandra Beckwith lists where you can buy books online besides Amazon.

If you dream of seeing your story on the big screen someday, Matt Knight explains the difference between a film option vs. a shopping agreement.

Whether you are looking for an agent or self-publishing, you still need to be able to “sell” your story to people. Ericka McIntyre has tips and tricks for pitching like a pro, while Lorraine Mace gives us tips on writing a synopsis.

Marketing has many elements to master. Barbara Linn Probst shares a 3-tiered approach to book launches, Sandra Beckwith tells us not to confuse a book endorsement with a review, and Dave Chesson walks us through how to set up a sponsored products ad in Amazon.

Blogs are still a good way to connect with your readers. Adam Connell has 11 time management lessons every blogger should learn, Lyn Wildwood explains how to create engaging audience surveys readers won’t ignore, and Cristian Mihai reveals the most underrated blogging technique ever.

THE UNIQUE SHELF

Rachel Kramer Bussel examines why a retired Cincinnati teacher started The Book Bus, a bookstore on wheels.

It’s all electrons now, but Anthony Grafton reminds us that in early modern Europe, reading and writing meant getting your hands dirty.

Leo Robson delves into the unruly genius of Joyce Carol Oates.

You can’t judge a book… Dylan Mulvaney looks at 50 years of covers of Camus’ The Plague.

Patrik Svensson investigates the uncanny figure of the eel in literature and art.

Writing may be a lonely pursuit, but few writers make it a success alone. Alice Miller looks at the partners behind great writers in literature.

That’s all for this week’s Top Picks Thursday! Stay safe, stay cool, and join us next week for more literary links.

 

Posted by: Kerry Gans | July 2, 2020

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 07-02-2020

Welcome to the first Top Picks Thursday of July! We have reached summer and it’s hot out there! Read on for some cool links to writerly stuff.

SCBWI announced the 2020 Crystal Kite Winners.

The book world has lost some literary lights. Eminent biographer Robert Richardson dies at age 86, and author of The Graduate Charles Webb dies at age 81.

The protests against racial injustice continue in America, and the effects are being felt everywhere. Hillel Italie reports most board members have resigned from the Thriller Writers Association, Rafia Zakaria warns us to beware the allies of whiteness, Cree Myles says if you really want to unlearn racism, read black sci-fi authors, and Rachelle Gardner addresses a concern many are struggling with: should authors “stay in their lane”?

CRAFT

Certain genres have certain expected elements. Elizabeth S. Craig explains why funerals are essential elements in cozy mysteries, Kris Maze shows us how to tell if you are writing a YA novel, and Sarah Rexford tackles tropes and how to make them credible, not cliché.

If you are considering (or are already writing) a long-running series, Alison Flood interviews different authors on how they handle the evolution (or not) of their series protagonist.

There are a lot of things to consider when writing your story. Olivia Rana discusses how to get a sense of place in a book—with and without traveling there, Leanna Renee Hieber shares theatrical shortcuts for dynamic fiction, Stavros Halvatzis tells how to write gripping stories, and Katharine Grubb lists 5 requirements for the beginning of your bestseller.

Lots of craft issues can derail your reader’s enjoyment of the book, even craft issues that seem small. Jodie Renner has quick tips for avoiding viewpoint gaffes in your fiction, Jami Gold examines chapter breaks and chapter titles, Robert Lee Brewer demystifies further vs. farther, and Mathina Calliope takes on commas.

All your characters have to carry their weight, and we strive to make them as interesting as possible. Hank Phillippi Ryan explores finding your character’s motivation, Laurie R. King shows how to make your supporting characters shine, Antonio del Drago investigates the shadow archetype and powerful villains, Ellen Buikema has how to develop a memorable character, John J. Kelley looks at writing characters with trauma, and Tamar Sloane has a book list of craft books that delve into psychology.

We always need to edit our work, and learning to self-edit as a first step can save us money when hiring a professional editor. Henry McLaughlin dives into the art of self-editing, Jamie Gold discusses fixing sentence flow and choppy writing, and James Scott Bell looks at how to move from one scene to the next.

All writers are searching for inspiration, but sometimes we find blocks instead. Patricia McAlexander muses on inspiration, Natasa Lekic describes how to overcome creative burnout, and Jacqueline Myers shares the best-kept secret “real” writers use to crush writer’s block.

The writing journey is long and complex. Ruth Harris gives us 5 unforced errors writers make that stand between themselves and success, Martha Alderson examines the emotional roller coaster all writers experience, and Janelle Harris Dixon reminds us that Toni Morrison proved there’s no time limit for success.

BUSINESS

Katie Law interviewed literary figures on why booksellers thrived during lockdown and what’s next, while Jim Milliot reports that print sales enjoy an unexpected high. Meanwhile, Olivia Snaije tells us that because of the coronavirus, international language bookshops in Paris formed their own union.

In the US, audiobook market value was up 16% in 2019, but Mark Williams wonders how much the delivery model holds back audiobook sales.

If you are searching for agents, Mary Kole has advice about your query letter hook and revealing the ending, while Tamela Hanclock Murray has tips for writing a timeless author bio that you won’t outgrow.

Marketing is all about reaching people. Jessica White discusses networking as a newbie author, Sonia Frontera shares 5 book marketing lessons learned from her first indie book, and Courtney Link lists 3 ways to think like a book publicist.

Blogging is still a good way to reach an audience. Cristian Mihai talks about the biggest mistake a beginning blogger can make and explains the reason you get lost along the way, while Kim Lochery dives deep into the data to figure out: when is the best time to publish a blog post?

THE UNIQUE SHELF

If you love J.R.R. Tolkien, John Garth walks us through the landscapes that influenced Tolkien’s Middle Earth.

Masatsugu Ono discusses the phenomenon of translationese.

Martha Ackmann delves into the encounter that revealed a different side of Emily Dickinson.

Great literature is timeless. David Denby examines the lockdown lessons of Crime and Punishment.

That’s all for this week’s Top Picks Thursday! See you next week for more literary links. Stay safe out there, and enjoy the 4th of July holiday!

Posted by: J. Thomas Ross | June 25, 2020

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 06-25-2020

 

The Author Chronicles, Top Picks Thursday, J. Thomas Ross, catmint

Catmint

 

Welcome to the last Top Picks Thursday of June! Summer arrived here with a surge of heat and humidity. Hope you’re able to get out and enjoy these beautiful days. We don’t want any of you to get sick, though, so please be cautious, wear masks, and maintain social distance.

For those yearning to find books for summer reading in the library, Thomas Wilburn checks out how libraries are dealing with new demand for books and services during the pandemic.

Since children haven’t been able to attend school during this pandemic, many people have been reading stories aloud online; Tomas A. Lipinski investigates whether online storytimes violate copyright laws.

Reading is important for children, but Shelley Blanton-Stroud also asserts that children need to write.

Porter Anderson reports on the Global Association of Literary Festivals’ first online webinar.

Kudos to: AudioFile’s five new Golden Voice Lifetime Achievement Award winners — Julia Whelan, Ramón de Ocampo, JD Jackson, Arthur Morey, and Emily Woo Zeller [reported by Literary Hub‘s Book Marks].

In memoriam: prizewinning biographer Robert Richardson dies at age 86 [from the Philadelphia Inquirer, reported by Harrison Smith], and bestselling author Carlos Ruiz Zafon dies at age 55 [reported by Reuters].

 

The Author Chronicles, Top Picks Thursday, J. Thomas Ross, chipmunk, buttercup

 

CRAFT

 

So many stressful events have happened in the past few months that many are having difficulty writing. Bonnie Randall makes sense of why you can’t concentrate right now, Sue Coletta considers pantsing through the pandemic, Nancy Star offers tips and tricks for writing through tough times, and Kathleen McCleary suggests doing something different (like poetry) when all else fails. In addition, Bill Ferris gives parents the hack’s guide to writing while the kids are at home.

Florence Osmund advises authors to write/right for the market, and Lucy V. Hay goes into how to avoid a half-baked idea.

If you’re working on the opening scene of your book, Katharine Grubb lays out eight awful beginnings you want to avoid.

For those developing their stories, David Bell gives us 5 tips for navigating a successful novel outline, Lori Freeland stresses telling your story forward, and Janice Hardy lists 5 ways to add internal conflict to your scenes.

Character complexity adds to a story. Kristen Lamb takes a look at understanding and harnessing the character’s blind spot, and Nathan Bransford explains that the climax should resolve your character’s desires.

At some point in your story, you may have to deal with a conversation among a group of characters. Dave King addresses crowd control: how to vary attribution in dialogue among a group.

When that draft is finished and it’s time for revision, Stavros Halvatzis recommends striking superfluous words from sentences, Rochelle Melander talks about revising your book for word choice, and Writer’s Digest‘s Robert Lee Brewer clarifies when to use systemic vs. systematic vs. institutional.

Having other eyes read your finished manuscript is vital, but Dario Ciriello suggests picking your beta readers carefully: harsh does not equal honest.

 

The Author Chronicles, Top Picks Thursday, J. Thomas Ross, grain field and trees

 

BUSINESS

 

For authors following the traditional path to publication, Janet Reid answers the question: when you totally botch your query, how do you recover?

Tasha Seegmiller discusses the fairy tale vs the reality of publication.

Layla Mohamed writes that UK publishing must decolonize, and Sian Cain adds that the Black Writers’ Guild calls for sweeping change in UK publishing.

Porter Anderson reports that Macmillan is making major changes in its management approach to address issues of diversity and inclusion.

Dahlia Adler provides information about editing a YA anthology.

Alexandra Alter takes a balanced look at what Bookshop means to the book industry.

If you’re thinking about self-publishing, the AskALLiTeam presents facts and figures about self publishing, and Michael F. DuBois and Larissa Farrell explore self-publishing a photo book.

Ed Nawotka and Claire Kirch look at how indie publishers are coping with Covid-19, while Mark Coker considers post-pandemic publishing for indie authors.

Anne R. Allen says congratulations on your first bad review! Seriously. All writers get them.

Dave Chesson goes into how to choose the best Kindle keywords for your book and how to create Amazon ads that convert.

Derek Doepker shares 5 reasons to turn your book into an audiobook.

The pandemic has made traditional book events impossible for the present. Ed Cyzewski shares tips for a socially distanced book event.

Author bloggers, Cristian Mihai says if you’re struggling with your blog, this is your wake-up call.

 

The Author Chronicles, Top Picks Thursday, J. Thomas Ross, dawn

 

THE UNIQUE SHELF

 

Alicia A. Wallace explains why we should have been listening to Octavia Butler this whole time.

Eddie S. Glaude, Jr. looks into the history that James Baldwin wanted America to see.

Janie Chang relates the risky journey that saved one of China’s greatest literary treasures.

Willow Curry reflects on the relationship between art and action.

Lee Randall examines Earl Stanley Gardner’s Perry Mason, who stood up for the little guy.

David Gianatasio tells us Andy Cohen is narrating summer stories from literary authors for Stella Artois.

Pól Ó Conghaile looks at the secret behind Dublin’s storytelling magic.

 

The Author Chronicles, Top Picks Thursday, J. Thomas Ross, abandoned bird's nest

That’s all for this week’s Top Picks Thursday. Join us next week for a new month and a new roundup of writerly links!

 

The Author Chronicles, Top Picks Thursday, J. Thomas Ross, evening clouds

 

 

Posted by: Kerry Gans | June 18, 2020

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 06-18-2020

Welcome to this week’s Top Picks Thursday! As school winds down, parent-writers now have the seasonal child-care summer issue, compounded by COVID restrictions and closures.

In a win for copyright, the Internet Archive National Emergency Library has closed its doors under pressure from infringement lawsuits.

Gill Phillips delves into the worldwide threat to journalists and publishers.

On June 16th, a 30-hour-long production of James Joyce’s Ulysses aired across the world. If you missed it, there is a link to the podcast in the article.

On the anti-racism front, a Missouri woman asks Merriam-Webster to update its definition of racism and official will make the change, and Jim Milliot investigates if race issues in publishing have reached a tipping point.

The world is reopening, but many bookstores are following a go-slow approach to reopening.

CRAFT

Some advice is specifically for certain genres (although sometimes it can be extrapolated to fit another genre). Patty Jansen explains why you should write contemporary romance even if you never publish it, Aretha Phiri and Sam Naidu discuss how African crime and detective fiction is reshaping the genre, and K.B. Owen advises on writing real-life historical characters.

Laurie R. King talks about keeping your series fresh, Cassidy Thomas shares things she learned from publishing her first fantasy novel, while the often-fraught genre of memoir is tackled by Sharon Harrigan exploring how to talk about family in memoir, and Marlene Cullen showing how to freewrite about traumatic events without causing more trauma.

Every writer has a different process. Aliza Mann reminds us that re-evaluting your process from time to time is good. For some people, putting a title to their work is a vital part of that process, so Alex from Ride the Pen compiles advice from 17 authors on how to create a good title.

Building the structural elements of your story can be one of the hardest parts of the process. Stavros Halvatzis explores how to avoid being formulaic, Melissa Donovan demystifies story concept vs. premise, and Kay Keppler shows how to build plot in your story.

Writing is a constant learning process. Sacha Black has 10 tips to improve your prose, Terry Odell takes on transitions, Denise Loock urges us to treat adverbs fairly, and Janice Hardy exposes the hidden danger backstory poses for writers (and it’s not the one you think).

There are lots of little things that are intangible but make a big difference to the reading experience. Jeff Vande Zande reveals the power of short sentences and white space, Kathryn Craft shares 6 ways to incorporate a dash of foreign language, Deena Nataf discusses how to handle a phone conversation, Robert Lee Brewer lists 63 grammar rules for writers and using advice vs. advise, and Sue Coletta looks at where, when, why, and how to use block quotes and ellipses.

Characters make readers care about the story. James Scott Bell tells us how to characterize, Neha Yazmin discusses how to describe your main character in 1st person POV, Jami Gold explores making the right impression in a character introduction and gives 4 tips for creating the right character impression, Nathan Bransford says to listen to your characters but don’t let them run away with you, Katharine Grubb has 9 more ways to write an emotionally abusive character, and Elaine Viets urges us to make characters count.

Editing and revision make our stories the best that they can be. Leigh Pierce defines alpha and beta readers and their uses, Katherine Grubb has 10 questions to ask your beta readers, Nancy Wayson Dinan explores the gap between intention and execution, and Ruth Heald explains how writing groups can help develop your writing.

Inspiration can carry us through the hard times in writing. Sandra Wendel has 4 not so silly writing tips to get words on paper, Jim Dempsey shows the connection between writing and hiking, Jessica Strawser shares 23 quotes to fuel your writing all summer long, and Rachelle Gardner asks: are you in this for the long haul?

BUSINESS

Niamh Mulvey shows how low pay and low pay transparency undermine the publishing industry.

John Doppler investigates: what is vanity publishing?

Kris Maze has 3 ways to share your writing with traditional publishers.

Joe Hartlaub reminds us that a “pulp” story may end up being your big hit, so go check your rejected file and see what you can revive.

Janet Reid tells us how to answer when someone assumes selling your book means you are now rich.

Marketing involves multiple communication channels. Barbara Linn Probst discusses blurbing and being blurbed, Sandra Beckwith explains how to pitch to radio and become a talk show guest, and David Hartshorne gives us the best MailChimp alternatives for your business.

Judith Briles examines how we can build better book promotion, Colleen M. Story has the one question that you need to ask to boost your readership, and Frances Caballo discusses book marketing while people march for change.

Blogging is still a good way to reach readers. Kim Lochery lists 100+ blogging statistics that will help you create a better blogging strategy, Cristian Mihai shares 96 lessons she learned after 8 years of blogging, and Jordan Peters asks: are you creative (enough)?

THE UNIQUE SHELF

Monika Zgustova writes in celebration of bookstores reopening.

Ezzedine C. Fishere discusses Yusuf Idris, a great Egyptian tragedian.

Jonathan Bate explores the radical afterlives of William Wordsworth.

For fantasy authors, Toni Susnjar lays out the basics of heraldry.

We all have favorite books from the past. Jeffrey Davies explains why you’re allowed to grow out of books and authors.

Bob Greene has a requiem for the printing press.

Check out the 2500 rare texts from the Islamic world to go online for free.

Arika Okrent investigates 12 old words that survived by getting fossilized in idioms.

Libraries store invaluable objects. Sarah Laskow gives us the oldest treasures from 12 great libraries.

That’s all for this week’s Top Picks Thursday! See you next week for more literary links and writerly advice.

Posted by: Kerry Gans | June 11, 2020

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 06-11-2020

Welcome to this week’s Top Picks Thursday! As we slide into summer, kick back with a lemonade and enjoy some writerly links.

PEN America announces that Chinese essayist Xu Zhiyong wins the Barbey/Freedom to Write Award.

Oscar nominated playwright and writer of the movie Splash, Bruce Jay Friedman died at age 90.

The cornavirus is still forcing changes all around the publishing world. Scholastic adjusts its summer reading program, Andrew Albanese looks at looming changes as libraries begin to reopen, and almost 500,000 stream the first online Hay Festival.

On top of the coronavirus, huge protests against police brutality and systemic racism have swept the nation (and the world), causing many to look and see how they can help. Nathan Bransford lists ways to make a difference in the book world, Jason Reynolds’ reminds us that choice of words matter, the PW staff gives us a fiction anti-racist reading list, John Maher reports that workers across the book world are taking collective action against racism, John Mayer looks at poets calling for change at the Poetry Foundation, and Mark Alpert examines writing and racism on an individual level.

CRAFT

Lots of authors are wondering what to do with this pandemic in their writing. Dane Isaacson discusses how to write (or not write) about the pandemic. Much depends on what genre you write in.

Speaking of genre, Paula Munier has a quiz to help you decide if you’re writing in the genre that suits you best.

Specific genres have specific craft elements to think about it. Annabelle McCormack looks at writing the history in historical fiction, Jessica Lynn Jacquez asks: does your memoir has a story the world needs to hear, while crime writers might want to check out Garry Rogers’ day in the life of a coroner.

The various threads of craft that go into a novel can be confusing and seem endless. Jami Gold examines foreshadowing, JJ Barnes handle flashbacks, Janice Hardy tackles both why you should tighten your novel’s focus and fleshing out a too-short novel, and Donald Maass reveals the quest within the quest for most stories.

Michelle Barker warns of the dangers of anecdotal writing, James Preston suggests you visualize your story through storyboarding, Jami Gold discusses formatting non-verbal communication, Chi Luu reminds us of the power of idioms, and K.M. Weiland shares the 5 elements of a resonant closing line.

Character has about as many facets to it as the rest of the craft elements we deal with. Katherine Grubb has 9 ways to write and emotionally abusive villain, Stavros Halvatzis explores spiritual growth and the age of a character, Kristen Lamb looks at how wounds fashion unforgettable characters out of damaged pieces, and Jenny Hansen lists the 8 C’s of character development.

Editing covers quite a lot of ground. It can be word level, with the difference between sight vs. site vs. cite or when to use whom vs. who, or as over-arching as how to navigate negative reviews and critiques. Roz Morris gives us a pain-free way to tackle beta reader comments, and the AskALLi Team has the ultimate guide to self-editing your manuscript.

As writers, we are always looking for ways to work faster and to find inspiration. Stacey Corrin lists 10 quick tips to help you write 5x faster, Laina Turner has SMART goals for the self-published author, Jodi Turchin recommends these 5 ways to put the fun back in writing, and James Scott Bell reflects on some favorite writing quotes.

Robert A. Burton explains that our brains tell stories so we can live, while Bill Ferris suggests the top 5 writing hacks to distract you from the nightmare of your daily life.

Sharon Ledwith aims for the author’s comfort zone, a balance between writing and marketing, Erika Liodice explains how and why to create an author mission statement, and Ellie Maas Davis walks us through how to write a book dedication.

BUSINESS

The coronavirus will leave an indelible stamp on publishing. Richard Charkin describes 10 publishing things that will never be the same, Jim Milliot reports that NYC publishers won’t open until September, and Alex Green finds out what it’s like to be a frontline bookseller during a pandemic.

The racial injustice protests are also roiling the publishing world. Nathan Bransford points out that #PublishingPaidMe is just the tip of the iceberg, while Ann Kjellberg explores the hardships faced by black-owned bookstores.

Thomas Key demystifies a 9th circuit court copyright ruling that states that “single unit of publication” registrations require publication as a singular, bundled collection.

For those querying agents, Janet Reid reminds us that your perfect query can get rejected if your pages are not strong, Ally E. Machate tells us how to send the best sample pages to agents, and Jane Friedman has questions to ask your publisher before you sign the contract.

Marketing can be difficult, especially if you don’t enjoy it. Anne R. Allen reminds us that you don’t have to be sleazy to sell books, the AskALLi Team has the ultimate guide to author platform, Penny Sansevieri explains the strategy that leads to more book sales, and James Scott Bell tackles public speaking for writers.

How do you get your name and work out there? Keri-Rae Barnum lays out how to set up a blog tour (plus a list of reputable blog tour companies), and Janet Reid directs us to how to find places to submit short stories and how to start building an email list.

Websites, blogs, and social media are a main way to connect with readers these days. Nate Hoffelder shares 991 web-safe fonts you can use for free, Cristian Mihai explains what she learned about blogging from the masters of literature and why you need a strategy to be successful in blogging, while Katherine Grubb lists 8 tips to help you get attention on Twitter.

THE UNIQUE SHELF

BookMarks shares this 1963 review of James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time.

The New Yorker prints a previously unpublished Hemingway story, “Pursuit as Happiness”.

Kate Siber brings us Mary Austin, the 19th-century writer who braved the desert alone and has been almost forgotten.

Dr. Jin Li investigates how Shanghai became a city of literary experimentation.

Genre-melding is common in all art forms. Alfonso Casas looks at how Freddie Mercury brought a rock audience to opera.

Once travel is safe again, horror/scifi/speculative fiction fans can visit the Frankenstein museum in Bath, UK. Mary Shelley’s museum right near the Jane Austen museum, so you can hit both literary lights in one go.

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

 

Posted by: Kerry Gans | June 4, 2020

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 06-04-2020

Welcome to the first Top Picks Thursday of June! It’s really feeling like summer now, and the countdown to the end of remote-learning school has begun. But we all know learning never stops for writers, so read on for literary links.

Writer Joyce Carol Oates wins France’s $218,000 Cino del Duca World Prize, often seen as a precursor to the Nobel.

The literary world lost two giants this week: Larry Kramer, pioneering AIDS activist and writer, died at age 84, and bookselling visionary Harry Hoffman died at 92.

Many cities in America have been in upheaval this week following the murder of George Floyd and the ensuing protests for long-overdue systemic change. Clare Kirch reports on Minneapolis bookstores dealing with fire and vandalism during this chaotic weekend.

The fight against racism continues in the writing world as well. Romance Writers of America aims for a happy end to their racism implosion with a new prize and new vision, John Maher talks to authors taking publishing’s diversity issue into their own hands, and Frances Caballo challenges all of us: what are you doing to encourage inclusivity and represent diversity in your marketing images?

In copyright news, AAP members file a copyright infringement suit against Internet Archive, with four major publishers joins the lawsuit.

If you are looking for work, Mary Kole of Kidlit.com is hiring a copywriter.

CRAFT

There are different rules for different genres, and Christoper Oldcorn examine understanding difference audiences. Laird Barron looks at writing noir fiction when the raw is too real, Toni Susnjar discusses map building for fantasy writers, and Jason Wilson ponders travel writing in the absence of travel.

A strong structure is vital to a good story. Katharine Grubb has questions to ask when planning your three-act structure, Swati Teerdhala talks about when to tell and not show, and Terry Odell shares the power of asking yourself “why?”.

Once you’ve got the backbone in place, you’ve got all the little bones to add on and fill out. Jami Gold looks at word choice and what it means for our writing, Jessi Rita Hoffman discusses the problem of self-conscious writing, Matt Janacone tackles writing without the semicolon, Robert Lee Brewer defines empathy vs. sympathy vs. apathy, and Janice Hardy offers a checklist to strengthen the narrative drive in your scenes.

Characters bring the story to life. Halimah Marcus, Brandon Taylor, and Erin Bartnett examine using the first person plural POV, Kristen Lamb discusses deception as a storytelling device with an unreliable narrator, Stavros Halvatzis shows how to build characters in seven steps, Angela Ackerman looks at how much planning is needed for character building in part I and part II, Sacha Black has 3 ways to differentiate your characters, and Lisa Hall-Wilson shares 3 ways to dive deeper into character emotions.

Writer’s block is a problem most writers will face at some point. Bob Hostetler tells how to beat writer’s block, Robin LaFevers has tips to break through writer’s block, and Bonnie Randall introduces the antithesis method to get unstuck in a scene.

A writing career is a marathon, not a sprint. Ruth Harris gives us a writers guide to patience and perseverance, David Shorb explains why you should plan to fail, and Jael McHenry urges us to get comfortable with failure.

Sometimes it’s hard to move forward, whether your obstacles are coming from outside or from within. Melissa Donovan has a few good writing tips to keep you on your toes, Heather Weidner shares tips for overcoming fear and doubt, and David Shorb reminds us that you don’t get what you don’t fight for.

Alexa Glazer explores what storytelling is and 4 ways stories bring people together. Sometimes people come together through reading a common story, so Paula Munier compiled her top 10 books about writers. Sometimes stories bring people together as writing partners, so Sarah Skilton tells us how to collaborate on our next novel.

BUSINESS

Mark Williams maps the new normal: as bookstores in France reopen, early euphoria gives way to plummeting books sales in week two.

Want to self-publish? Elaine Del Valle tells us how to become a self-published author.

Agents and ex-agents had a lot to say this week. Janet Reid defines narrative nonfiction for children and discusses how to query when your protagonist doesn’t come in until later in the book, Nathan Bransford shows us how to write a one sentence pitch, Rachelle Gardner answers the question: what if an agent rejects a bestseller?; and Victoria Strauss discusses evaluating publishing contracts and 6 ways authors may be sabotaging themselves.

Author marketing likes to talk about platform. Marion Roach Smith and Joanna Penn explore how broad an author platform should be, Eldred “Bob” Bird has more thoughts on growing a fertile author platform, Bath Barany posts a marketing relationship roadmap for novelists, Sandra Beckwith lists 4 tips to turn your book marketing around, and Dave Chesson gives us 5 easy ways to increase your book sales.

While much of marketing is virtual now, Sherry Ficklin discusses why swag (including digital swag) is vital to author events. Crisitan Mihai examines 2 aspects of content creation with 7 phenomenal tips that are going to revolutionize the way you write blog posts and showing how you sabotage your blog by writing mediocre sentences, while Elizabeth S. Craig tells us how to claim your knowledge panel on Google.

THE UNIQUE SHELF

Virginia Breen gathers up a struggle in 17 syllables: essential workers write COVID haiku.

There is often discussion about writing with pen and paper vs. on a computer. Matt Janacone brings another suggestion, extolling the advantages of a manual typewriter and why every writer should own one.

As we move into the video-conference-from-home age, the timeless art of the bookcase flex starts a new chapter.

Sometimes I wish I could escape from the news. Rob Brotherton tells of a time when all New York City stopped reading the news at once.

Martha Ackmann opens the letter that changed Emily Dickinson’s life.

Got some cash stashed away for a special purchase? Up for sale is the first printing of “The Star-Spangled Banner” in the 1814 Baltimore Patriot and Evening Advertiser.

Sue Coletta brings us the story of the world’s first free public library supported by taxation.

That’s all for this week’s Top Picks Thursday! Stay safe and stay healthy, and we will see you next week.

Posted by: Kerry Gans | May 28, 2020

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 05-28-2020

Welcome to the last Top Picks Thursday of May! May 30th is National Creativity Day, and May 31st is National Speak in Sentences Day.

Check out the finalists for the 2021 NSK Neustadt Prize for Children’s Literature and the 2020 laureates for the European Prize for Literature.

Take a gander at comics for a mobile generation—and another possible outlet for your work.

The pandemic takes a toll in many forms. Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre could close permanently due to the coronavirus, and Daniel DeFoe’s account of the 1665-1666 London plague focuses on how plagues always hit workers the hardest.

In spite of the pandemic, writing contests continue. Arthur Klepchukov compiles fiction writing contests worth your time in summer 2020.

CRAFT

We have lots of genre-specific advice today: Leslie Lutz has 6 tips to create suspense in a thriller novel; Natasa Xerri dives into writing a fairy tale and creating the magic behind the story; Lawrence Light shares 5 tips for writing financial thrillers; Sean Gray discusses building systems of tanistry into your fantasy; and Garry Rogers shares a real-life day of a detective.

Structure is the skeleton that holds up the entire story. Christine Hennebury lists 5 perfectly mundane ways to start a story, Katharine Grubb has 10 questions to ask when blueprinting a scene, Kris Brock examines turning points in the three-act structure, J.J. Barnes discusses plot twists, Cristina Delay says to jump into the third act, and Laurie Schnebly Campbell ponders the pros and cons of writing a series (which adds a whole other level of structure).

Some craft-y ways to engage the reader are using tension and subtext. Mary Kole says to avoid limbo with narrative tension, September C. Fawkes tells us how to write subtext, while Ellen Buikema takes a look at body language in writing.

There are plenty of other craft elements to consider while writing. Jami Gold dissects different Points of View and their nuances, Kathy Harris talks making it real, Meghan Ward shows how to improve the action in your story, J.J. Barnes figures out what is a good prose to dialogue ratio, and the AskALLi Team shares the ultimate guide to writing good prose.

And then there’s your characters, who carry your whole story on their shoulders. Barbara Linn Probst discusses creating characters who are fully alive, Stavros Halvatzis explores epiphany and self-realization in story, Jami Gold looks at how a character’s POV affects the story, and Janice Hardy lays out how to discover the front story of your non-point of view characters.

Once you’ve got that first draft, you are ready to fix it all up—and sometimes that means some pretty hefty revision. Nathan Bransford shows how to diagnose big picture problems in your novel, and Orly Konig shares 5 revision tips for pantsers.

Setting up good writing habits can help us find success. Susan DeFreitas reveals how to engrain your writing practice into your life, Katharine Grubb tells us how to make time for writing, Lisa Poisso shares a curated list of craft books about writing, and Kris Maze finds writing inspiration (even during quarantine).

With the world full of uncertainty, Emily Reyolds examines writing, coping, and facing the future, Catherine McKenzie moves forward with writing as collaboration, and Laina Turner lists 10 tips to building a sustainable writing business.

BUSINESS

As with every other business, publishing has been hit hard by the coronavirus and changed buying habits. Poter Anderson reports that 72% of France’s publishers plan cutbacks, Jim Milliott says publisher sales fell 8.4% in March, and the PW staff tell us that print unit sales are up 7.7% in mid-May.

What ever happened to the much-anticipated “enhanced” ebook, which would have embedded sound and video, among other bells and whistles? David Kudler revisits the topic by discussing the problem with enhanced ebooks.

If you are a freelance writer, you will meet many different editors at many different magazines. Don Vaughn provides the writer’s field guide to editors to help identify and deal with them.

Agent Janet Reid addresses what to do when requested fulls are met with silence.

Marketing is tricky now. It’s different. It’s possibly even more frustrating that before. Janet Reid suggests going back to basics while marketing in the pandemic, Brian Jud discusses how to reach your book sales goals this year, and Corinne Moulder shares 4 steps to take before publicizing your book.

Marketing is all about making contact with your readers. John Gilstrap talks about platforms, Stephanie Chandler reveals where to send review copies of your book to get more book reviews, clients, media attention, and other opportunities; and David Hartshorne has a beginner’s guide to search engine optimization (SEO).

Even before the pandemic, much of our marketing had moved to the internet. Hank Phillippi Ryan gives us the secret to successful virtual author events, Cristian Mihai explores how blog posts go viral, and Sandra Beckwith has 3 social media mistakes authors must stop making right now.

For those of us uncomfortable with this technological world we live in, Bob Hostetler advises: be a Luddite, not a lunkhead.

THE UNIQUE SHELF

We all know writing can be lonely, but it doesn’t have to be. Maggie Doherty explores the creative communities that changed literature forever.

A writer writes. Benjamin Taylor tells us that even in retirement, Philip Roth wrote thousands of pages.

Olivia Gatwood uncovers the ethos of Edna St. Vincent Millay: defiant and unsinkable.

All fantasy has seeds of reality in it. Vanessa Thorpe explores the English towers and landmarks at inspired J.R.R. Tolkien’s hobbit sagas.

That’s all for this week’s Top Picks Thursday! As many parts of the nation reopen, please be smart and stay safe. We’ll see you back here next week for another literary link round-up!

Posted by: J. Thomas Ross | May 21, 2020

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 05-21-2020

 

The Author Chronicles, Top Picks Thursday, J. Thomas Ross, robin on fence with insectThe Author Chronicles, Top Picks Thursday, J. Thomas Ross, goldfinch on garden fence

 

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome to this week’s Top Picks Thursday! This month is going by so fast—it’s hard to believe that Monday is Memorial Day. However you decide to celebrate the holiday, have fun but take precautions to stay safe and well.

To offset adverse effects of school closures, Donalyn Miller takes a look at how communities are working to reach kids who don’t have books at home.

Business shutdowns have been hard on bookstores. André Wheeler wonders: can America’s oldest black bookstore survive the pandemic? With positive news, John Mayer reveals that HBG is launching an assistance program to aid the reopening of indie bookstores.

What type of books are you reading during this pandemic? Natalie Jenner ponders why we reread our favorite books, while Amanda Craig claims that children’s books make good companions in a crisis.

Michael Cuby reports that Dana Kennedy is one reason the Pulitzer Prize is getting more diverse.

In memoriam: Carolyn Reidy, CEO of Simon & Schuster, has died at age 71 [reported by Michael Cader on Publisher’s Lunch].

 

The Author Chronicles, Top Picks Thursday, J. Thomas Ross, sunrise

 

CRAFT

 

How do you feel about the writing life? Barbara Linn Probst delves into why we write: artistry, identity, and legacy, while John Peragine addresses the limited limitless writing life.

For those having trouble writing during the pandemic, Julie Cantrell shares 4 productivity hacks you can use right now, and Bill Ferris lays out his top 5 writing hacks to distract you from the nightmare of your daily life, and Rachelle Gardner advises: find what you can control, and take action.

While some write for their own creative pleasure, others plan to sell their work. Kathy Meis looks at the intersection of creativity and commerce.

Ran Walker gives us 4 tips for writing short stories, and Jami Gold explains how and when to break writing rules.

Wondering how to start your story? Janet Reid weighs in on opening with action vs. opening with tension, and Kristen Lamb suggests creating a story-worthy problem that will captivate an audience.

If you’re in the planning stage, September C. Fawkes looks at how plotlines add dimension to novels, Kathryn Craft shares 8 ways to unblock your scene’s potential, and Elaine Viets explores writing cliffhangers.

For those working on their crafting their characters, Stavros Halvatzis writes about sympathy versus empathy in stories, and Janice Hardy asks: why should anyone help your protagonist?

Brian Andrews presents an infographic guide to the hero’s journey, and Laurence MacNaughton offers 3 ways to make failure fascinating.

Sooner or later your characters are going to talk to each other. Nathan Bransford brings us everything authors need to know about dialogue tags, while Tamela Hancock Murray adds her take with: he said, she said.

Some stories require a large cast of characters. Ann R. Allen brings us 8 ways to unconfuse your readers when you have too many characters.

For those ready to start revision, Robert Lee Brewer clarifies semantics vs. syntx vs. pragmatics (grammar rules); Janice Hardy stresses the necessity of clarifying ambiguous pronouns; and Terry Odell suggests that, in addition to removing overused words when you edit, you eliminate the banished words of 2020.

When you’ve done all you can on your own, Chantel Hamilton sets out a comprehensive guide to finding, hiring, and working with an editor.

 

The Author Chronicles, Top Picks Thursday, J. Thomas Ross, bee on flowers

 

BUSINESS

 

Preti Taneja tells us why book prizes matter more than ever.

With good news for book publishers and authors, The Publishers Weekly staff reports that print unit sales rose nearly 5% at the end of April.

Agent Janet Reid answers the question: what does “on behalf of” mean in contract jargon?

For those considering self-publishing, the AskALLiTeam gives us the ultimate guide to hardback and premium books, and Debbie Burke speaks about the evolution of a book title and cover.

Thinking about including media with your ebook? David Kudler goes into the problem with enhanced books.

In this challenging time for launching a book, Michelle Anderstarr shows us how to throw a virtual book launch.

Authors need a social media presence. Frances Caballo shares social media tips you need to know.

For bloggers, Cristian Mihai explains why emotion is the key to great blogging and reminds us that the reader is always right.

 

The Author Chronicles, Top Picks Thursday, J. Thomas Ross, bird nests, bird nest with eggs

 

THE UNIQUE SHELF

 

Literary Hub‘s Bookmarks celebrates the 95th anniversary of the publication of Virginia woolf’s debut novel with the first reviews of every Virginia Woolf novel.

Tracy O’Neill gives us a peek into the home lives of literary spies.

Ed Simon explores the book that invented the world. Can you guess what it is?

For fans of the mystery genre, Olivia Rutigliano lists the 45 most iconic detective sidekicks in literature, film, and television.

David Kamp examines why Sesame Street was a revolutionary force for children’s television.

Electric Literature‘s Emily Neuberger names 8 musicals that you might not know were based on books.

Claire Kirch has created a photo essay: bookstores are opening, cautiously, across the country.

 

The Author Chronicles, Top Picks Thursday, J. Thomas Ross, sparrow in river birch tree

 

That finishes up this week’s Top Picks Thursday. Join us again next week for another roundup of writerly links!

 

The Author Chronicles, Top Picks Thursday, J. Thomas Ross, spring-flowering bush

 

 

Posted by: Kerry Gans | May 14, 2020

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 05-14-2020

Welcome to the mid-month Top Picks Thursday! A bit hard to believe we are already halfway through May, but we are.

In a time where literally every aspect of our lives has moved into our homes, Meg LaTorre discusses how to juggle writing and parenting.

Hillel Italie explores why Octavia Butler’s prescient sci-fi resonates years after her death.

Katie Yee takes a look at the winners of this year’s Pulitzer Prizes.

Michael McClure, famed Beat poet who helped launch the San Francisco Renaissance, died at age 87.

For poetry lovers, Gabriella Smith lists free and cheap live poetry events you can watch online.

CRAFT

Sometimes knowing what genre you are writing in is difficult. S.L. Huang delves into what makes a book more thriller than sci-fi?

If  you are looking to build a freelance career, Kristy Stevenson shares 8 freelancing writing tips for regional publications.

We all have our own writing process, and Susan DeFreitas discusses developing your writing process by making it captivating.

Once we’re writing, there’s lots of craft elements we need to master. Melodie Campbell shows us how to survive the chaos point in your manuscript, Jami Gold tells us how to improve our story with action beats, and Katherine Grubb has 8 ways you may be bungling dialogue.

In addition, Julie Carrick Dalton dissects the earned plot twist, Fae Rowan describes how small decisions can have a huge story impact, and Janice Hardy has a two-fer with 5 ways to kick your writing up a notch, and the difference between painting a scene vs. dramatizing a scene.

Characters draw readers into the story, but they also do so much more. Nathan Bransford says to give your protagonist a mini-quest before the main plot kicks off, Tiffany Yates Martin reminds us to give our characters agency, Melissa Bowersock talks choosing a character name, Stavros Halvatzis examines great character description in stories, and Sara Letourneau explores how a protagonist’s motivations influence story themes.

After we write, we edit. Roz Morris explains how to prepare for comments on your book manuscript, Ann H. Gabhart shows us how to edit your word count after spewing words in early drafts, and Terry Odell lays out how to track your story.

Furthermore, Joanna Penn shares her technique for the first round of self-edits, Julie Glover writes in defense of editing as you go, and Jennie Nash says the secret to more efficient revision is pattern recognition.

Writers are influenced by everything in this world. Jessica Strawser shares 5 key lessons writers can learn from other artists, and Donald Maass reflects on the meaning of meaning.

BUSINESS

Looking to self-publish? Apple Books for Author launches with a PC version, and David Gaughran discusses what that means, Rafal Reyzer explains how font choices affects the minds of readers, and the AskALLi Team shows how to sell books on your author website.

Laurisa White Reyes says successful self-publishing starts with a great book, Lisa Tener discusses how to proceed and succeed in the future of publishing, and Melinda VanLone explores how much a book cover should cost.

Corrine Segal reports that the pandemic is giving rise to a new movement to organize labor in publishing, while Ruth Comerford tells us that small presses in the UK and Ireland fear being “wiped out” by autumn.

Kathey Meis examines how reading habits have changed during the quarantine—and how you can turn that into an opportunity.

Agent Janet Reid explores when it’s time to cut off exclusives to agents and spread your work more widely, while Joyce Sweeney gives advice from an author turned agent.

Marketing is online now more than it ever was. K.B. Jensen lays out how to throw a virtual book launch using Facebook Live, Sandra Beckwith shares 4 features that give you more control,  Nick Stephens lists 5 types of email you should send to your subscribers (and why), and Cristian Mihai reminds us that our words matter, and gives us 5 tips to help you write like yourself.

THE UNIQUE SHELF

Writers are shaped by the times the live in. Abigail Santamaria examines how a pandemic and nuclear threats shaped Madeline L’Engle’s writing and worldview.

Heloise Wood looks to history to see what kind of books will thrive in this pandemic era.

Reading is vital to many people for many reasons. Livia Gershon shows how reading got farm women through the Great Depression, Aaron Robertson shares the reading habits of major 20th century authors, and Emily Temple has compiled the 50 best contemporary novels under 200 pages for those who have little time to read.

Crime novels have all sorts of awful marriages in them, so Kimberly McCreight went in search of the elusive “good marriage” in crime fiction.

Wondering if your favorite museum will survive the pandemic? James Gardner discusses how the Louvre has survived wars, uprising, and yes, a plague.

In “A Letter from Officer Clemmons,” Francois Clemmons writes a letter to Mr. Rogers on friendship, the neighborhood, and gratitude.

That’s all for this week’s Top Picks Thursday! Stay healthy, and we’ll see you next week for more writerly links.

Posted by: Kerry Gans | May 7, 2020

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 05-07-2020

Welcome to this week’s Top Picks Thursday! We hope you are all safe and healthy.

The great debate is over! Microsoft has made it official: two spaces after a period is now flagged as an error.

Check out the 2020 Pulitzer Prize winners.

The world lost some literary lights this week. Children’s book author Robert Kimmel Smith died at age 89, and legendary Irish poet Eaven Boland died at age 75.

Missing your library? You are not the only one. Amy Shearn writes on missing libraries, while Claire Voon brings us 7 spectacular libraries you can explore from your living room.

The Publishers Weekly staff keeps track of COVID-19 impact listings: cancellations, closings, policy changes, and more.

CRAFT

As the pandemic rages, authors who are writing contemporary books are wondering what they should do about it in their manuscripts. Agent Janice Reid gives her opinion on whether to include or exclude a reference to the pandemic.

Write science fiction or fantasy? Alexis Furr tells how to write for an alien when you’ve never been an alien, and Zachary James has a step-by-step guide to creating and publishing your fantasy book.

Getting started is an exciting time, but can be difficult sometimes. Marie Lamba talks about how journaling led her to a book idea, Rachelle Gardner addresses the issue of so many ideas, so little time; Sara Coughlin shares 4 mindfulness steps every freelancer should do before starting their day, and Susan DeFreitas discusses the role neurohacks play in developing a writing practice.

Once you’ve got your idea, you can start. Stavros Halvatzis explains how great plot can come from moral weakness, Janet Reid looks at whether your first pages should set a scene or dive right in, and Dana Isaacson discusses choosing a novel’s point of view.

Characters carry the whole story, and engage your readers—or not. C.S. Lakin explains the 3 Ms of character setup, Janice Hardy explores creating character voices in non-POV characters, Bethany Henry gives us 5 reasons our characters need to fail, and Ellen Buikema discusses loving your hateful antagonist. And if any of your characters work at a morgue, Garry Rodgers tells us what really goes on at the morgue.

There are a lot of details authors need to manage throughout the story. Nathan Bransford looks at weaving in exposition naturally, Sonja Yoerg reminds us to pay attention to the timelines, Jami Gold discusses how we should format non-English words, and Ellie Maas Davis explores editing manuscripts: writing style, writer intuition, and working with an editor.

Lots of great advice for writers on the web. Anne R. Allen lists 4 newbie mistakes that can derail a book idea, Nils Odlund has 3 tips for impressing your readers, and Gwen Hernandez shares a roundup of handy Scrivener features.

Writers are often very sensitive to emotions, and living through this pandemic can feel like an avalanche as we deal with our own emotions and the weight of those around us. This can lead to creative blocks for many. Allie Pleiter gives us 6 ways to write while the world is stressing you out, Richard North Patterson advises write what you care about, Tiffany Yates Martin tells us how to become a better writer during quarantine, Bonni Randall harnesses the power of journaling through difficult times, Terry Odell focuses on how to write in distracting times, and James Scott Bell reminds us that even now (maybe especially now) our imaginations need regular play time.

BUSINESS

If you haven’t yet heard of Bookshop, look into it. Sindya N. Bhanoo explores how a coalition of indie stores managed to take a slice of Amazon’s business, and Aaron Robertson reports that Bookshop has raised $1 million for independent bookstores.

If you are a self-publisher, Justine Bylo takes a look at indie publishing in the time of COVID-19.

Stacy Juba gives advice on how to write your first novel and get published, and Verity Bright explains how to double your chance of landing a book deal (before you’ve written a single word).

For those querying agents, Nathan Bransford says you probably don’t need publishing credits. Janet Reid tackles the question of what to do when the publisher backs out of book 3 of a 3 book deal.

With in-person events not feasible for the foreseeable future, authors are relying on virtual events. The AskALLi Team shares the ultimate guide to hosting a successful online event, Diana Urban has 8 ideas from authors on virtual book launch events, and Claie Kirch wonders if, even after this is over, virtual author events are the next big thing.

Marketing is different now, but not so different—it’s still hard! To make it easier, Sandra Beckwith lists 6 ideas for promoting your book while watching TV, Christina Kaye tells us how to market your book in 4 easy steps, and Karen Lock Kolp has 5 tips for building a community of readers.

Online is the way we are connecting nowadays. Rob Eager shares 3 Amazon secrets every author needs to know, Evelyn Maguire brings us 15 ways to use Instagram to overcome distancing challenges, Sean Platt shows how to get good reviews for your books, and Cristian Mihai asks: are you sabotaging your blog by being a perfectionist?

THE UNIQUE SHELF

In honor of Harper Lee’s birthday, check out the first reviews of To Kill a Mockingbird.

Vijay Seshadri explores why T.S. Eliot has remained an enigma.

Fake news has been around for as long as there has been news. Dean Jobb investigates the bizarre newspaper hoax that nearly ruined Lizzie Borden.

Gil Hornby examines Cassandra Austen and her influence of Jane’s life and writing.

Emily Temple compiles 20 artists’ visions of Alice in Wonderland over 155 years.

Vincent van Gogh was a reader as well as a painter. Mariella Guzzoni discusses the writers van Gogh loved, from Dickens to Harriet Beecher Stowe.

We can all sympathize with lockdowns now. Julia Webster Ayuso tells the tale of a literary lockdown involving translating a Dan Brown novel, and the thriller plot that grew from it.

That’s all for this week’s Top Picks Thursday! Stay healthy, stay safe, and we will see you next week!

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