This week! Books!
It’s been a week of very bad ideas, but Gizmodo has a great post on how bad character choices in fiction can lead to some great work. To wit: Jurassic Park!
In Amazon news, in the UK supply shortages resulted in book buy buttons being removed. And the New York Times profiled an activist on an improbable fight to take on Amazon.
For more info on how the pandemic is affecting publishing, here’s a conversation with independent publisher Counterpoint Press.
Michelle Obama has kicked off a new storytime program with Penguin Random House and PBS Kids every Monday at noon ET.
California crime novels are some of my very favorites and gave us everyone from Raymond Chandler to Dashiell Hammett. Crimereads took a look at the promising authors behind a new wave of California crime fiction (via LitHub).
Do you use too many rhetorical questions in your novels? See what I did there? Mary Kole has some advice on avoiding them. (FWIW I personally don’t think you should avoid rhetorical questions entirely, they can be very helpful to focus the reader on the key dilemmas characters are facing. But as with everything, there’s a balance to be struck).
If you need a funny book to get you through quarantine, here are a few you might have missed.
If you’re a science fiction author like me chances are you’ve spent way too much time thinking about what actually makes something living. Gizmodo has a good essay about the extent to which viruses make us question what it really means for something to be alive.
And RIP to legendary editor Robert Loomis.
This week in bestsellers
Here are the top five NY Times bestsellers in a few key categories. (All links are affiliate links):
Adult print and e-book fiction:
- Masked Prey by John Sandford
- Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
- Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
- American Dirt by Jeanine Cummings
- The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
Adult print and e-book nonfiction:
- Untamed by Glennon Doyle
- The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson
- The House of Kennedy by James Patterson and Cynthia Fagen
- Hidden Valley Road by Robert Kolker
- Educated by Tara Westover
Young adult hardcover:
- Chain of Gold by Cassandra Clare
- One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus
- One of Us is Next by Karen M. McManus
- Five Feet Apart by Rachael Lippincott with Mikki Daughtry and Tobias Iaconis
- Children of Virtue and Vengeance by Tomi Adeyemi
Middle grade hardcover:
- The Complete Cookbook for Young Chefs by America’s Test Kitchen Kids
- Food Network Magazine: The Big, Fun Kids Cookbook by Food Network Magazine
- Wonder by R.J Palacio
- Wings of Fire: Legends: Dragonslayer by Tui T. Sutherland
- The Complete Baking Book for Young Chefs by America’s Test Kitchen Kids
This week on the blog
Don’t forget that you can nominate your first page and query for a free critique on the blog:
In case you missed them, here are this week’s posts:
- Lean into the things that bring you meaning
- If it’s not on the page, your reader doesn’t know it
- Let the reader into the story (page critique)
And keep up with the discussion in all the places!
Comment! of! the! week! goes to Ken Hughes on letting the reader into the story:
Let the reader in, yes.
It can be too easy to picture a scene like a movie: vivid sights and interesting events, and watching the character move through them. But that’s the limitation of standard film styles, that we mostly stand back and see many things at once.
A book’s words ought to take some tips from amateur video, where we see what the camera focuses on at each different moment. That camera shows us as much about the person behind it as the view in front, and that’s what we really want to understand.
And finally, the pandemic is going to influence our culture in all sorts of unpredictable ways. I really enjoyed this article in Slate about the influences the Spanish Flu had on architecture and the way it contributed to the rise of the modernist style.
Need help with your book? I’m available for manuscript edits, query critiques, and coaching!
For my best advice, check out my online classes, my guide to writing a novel and my guide to publishing a book.
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Art: New York City. Photo by me. Follow me on Instagram!
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