Top Sixteen: Writer’s Thanksgiving

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Hey, all you writers sitting round the Thanksgiving table…tell us what you’re thankful for!  

1) I give thanks for my book’s Amazon ranking of #527,456. Because, whatever. Amen.

2) I give thanks for Kirkus Reviews. And Book List. Because they might be reading this. Amen.

3) I give thanks that everyone on my team accepts my gif-abusing dancing cat emails, and ALL CAPS ENTHUSIASM. Amen.

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Top Sixteen: Author Nightmares

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1. SOMETHING’S MISSING: the launch is planned, the cover is fantastic, the publisher is all ready to go….except you completely and totally forgot to write the book!

2. You’re all set for the launch date, and the morning of you wake up and realize…IT WAS ALL A DREAM. You haven’t sold your book and there are three rejections waiting in your email box.

3. You’ve been anxiously awaiting the day for months, and finally it’s here. You open up your box of ARCs only to find that the publisher has put in not your professional author photo, but an image they found of you by Google image searching your name . . . and it’s from your crazy antics in college.

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Top Sixteen: Writer Support Groups That Should Exist… But Don’t

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TOP SIXTEEN WRITER SUPPORT GROUPS THAT SHOULD EXIST…BUT DON’T

Hi everyone, my name is “Writer”, and I’m messed up. And there’s no one out there to help me with my problem, no special group to back me up as I struggle with…well, check out what I struggle with, in our Top Sixteen List below!

1) Query Letters Anonymous: If you have ever binge-queried more than 500 times for a single work, our group can help. Sessions include having your manuscript pried from your cold, dead fingers by caring peers.

2) Twitter-Free and Proud: For friends and family of authors who are tweeting themselves into the small gilded cage of addiction. Our understanding, gentle group leaders may not be able to actually help, but at least there are no cell phones allowed at meetings.

3) Haven’t Interacted with Another Human Being in Over a Week Group: It’s time to step away from your computer or notebook for at least a couple of hours and speak to some real-life people. No, Netflix and your characters don’t count. Don’t worry – we won’t ask how your novel is going. Promise.

4) Butt In Chair Exercise Group: Classes available online, of course, so you don’t have to move out of your chair while you are completing your first, second, third…millionth drafts. All exercises performed with B.I.C as well (such Finger Pushups, Wrist Rotations, Toe Crunches, and the grueling Thigh-Minator Presses.) Our motto is “Stay in Shape While You Punctuate!”

5) Contention Deficit Disorder of America Group: Writers! Do agents reject your manuscripts with the comment, “There’s no conflict in this story?” Do your protagonists lead stress-free, boring lives? Yawn no more! At Contention Deficit Disorder of America’s cheerful six-week-long retreats, we will help you insert conflict by withholding Cheetos, coffee, alcohol, and chocolate of all kinds until you crack and agree to do whatever we tell you.

6) Finish Line Race Team: Do you find yourself revving your writing engine only to stall out half way around the track? Do faster, shinier writing ideas zoom past you and keep you from staying on course? Have no fear dear writer, Finish Line is here to take your project from starting block to checkered flag no matter what speed you like to drive. Seatbelts optional.

7) Book Baby Weight Buddies: If you’ve used savory meals and deliciously decadent desserts to celebrate every small success along the way, you might need BBWB. (Wrote 100 words! Finished Revising! Partial request! Full request! Agent offer! Sale!) Join the Book Baby Weight Buddies for getting back into healthier eating habits and exercising. We’ll do our best not to celebrate every successful spin class with a pint of Ben & Jerry’s latest flavor.

8) Google Hands Anonymous: Are your hands constantly Googling or in Google position–even when doing other activities like arguing with your teenager or watching Netflix? Oopsies, you have Google Hands. Don’t be ashamed. We all have it. We can’t stop googling our names. Anything good? Anything bad? Is that ugly picture of you and your ex at that stupid gala from 2008 still showing up? Damn you Google! This group has a $5.00 fee that includes a pair of comfy gloves to soothe your Google Hands.

9) Hip Replacement Group: Have you grown a full beard and mustache and taken to writing only upon a portable manual typewriter, which you lug around with you on your vintage bicycle, in hopes that this will make you a “real” writer? Meet our bunch of clean-shaven guys with laptops, who will fight you bare-fisted until you give up clinging to this delusion.

10) Writing Forum Addicts Anonymous: You wanted somewhere to discuss the trials and tribulations of the writing life. So you joined a forum or two, or three, or five. For a while, you had it under control. Then suddenly, you found yourself spending hours daily lurking on your forums, following other people’s complaints about querying like soaps. You read thousand-page archived threads stretching all the way back to the snail-mail era. You started needing to check your favorite threads before you could sleep at night. In this group, we force you to make face-to-face conversation with people who think a “WIP” is something you might use for kinky sex and an “MC” is generally found in dance clubs.

11) Weekly YMCA Shower Check-In: during which all writers arrive ready to bathe themselves for the first time, possibly, in a week. The only problem is that those who most need to be there forget to show up.

12) Procrasticleaning and Procrasticooking Maid Services: Put those hours spent avoiding your manuscript by scrubbing toilets and baking complicated dinners to good use! Team up with other writers and maybe earn some cold hard cash for every junk drawer you suddenly decide *has* to be organized NOW, or that new recipe for a cake with a million layers.

13) The Herb Brooks Support Group: Are you constantly comparing yourself to other writers, particularly those who are more disciplined, more productive, more polished, more creative, and all-in-all more successful than you? Join our group, named for the immortal Team USA hockey coach Herb Brooks, who famously told his “Miracle on Ice” team captain: “You worry about your own game. Plenty there to keep you busy.”

14) Review-Me-Not Group: Stop reading those reviews. No, we mean it: stop. NOW! This group ties you to the nearest chair, table, bed or heavy object and blindfolds you, while singing “Kumbaya” and “Happy”, to keep you from seeing your book torn to shreds. Not to be confused with the Fifty Shades of Grey withdrawal group.

15) The ‘How to Cope with the Death of Your Favorite Lines’ Group: Celebrate and share your best literary, heart-wrenching, eye- tearing line that you know is Pulitzer-worthy, but alas, your editor does not.

16) Email-Refreshers Anonymous: You’ve queried ten agents and you’re waiting for news. You’re on submission, and your agent expects an email any second. You’re waiting for edits from your editor. Whatever the cause, do you find yourself compulsively checking your email every other second as you wait for that anticipated email? Do you stare at your phone and hit refresh . . . refresh . . . refresh? Then this is the group for you. Email-Refreshers anonymous will talk you through the basics of life with less e-mail. And you WILL be okay. We promise.

BONUS! 17) Author Improv Group: Even before you signed your book deal, you suspected that you were the only person in the world who didn’t know what you were doing, and now you’re sure of it. Every other author you meet is so confident. They talk about editors and agents and marketing until your head spins. Line edits, copyedits, first pass proof pages, second pass proof pages… you can’t take any more! We can let you into a secret – we’re all making this stuff up as we go along. You need the Author Improv Group to teach you the vital skill of sounding as if you know what you’re doing.

This month’s Top Sixteen List brought to you by the following authors: Ami Allen-Vath, Kathleen Burkinshaw, Victoria Coe, Lindsay Eagar, Claire Fayers, M. Garcia, Margot Harrison, Emily Henry, Bridget Hodder, Janet Sumner Johnson, Scarlett Kol, Cynthia Reeg

Top Sixteen: Literary Pets

Writing can be a lonely art. As debut authors, we have logged many hours at our desks, behind our laptops, and buried in revisions.

How did we survive the self-imposed solitude? With the help of our loyal literary pets.

Get ready for cute overload. For this month’s Top Sixteen List, we’re introducing you to our BFFs, Best Furry (and one Fishy) Friends.

THE TOP SIXTEEN LITERARY PETS

#1 ARYA SKYWALKER

Arya’s author is: Parker Peevyhouse (WHERE FUTURES END)

Bio: Arya eats mostly bananas and books (she especially enjoyed the Norton Anthology of Poetry), and was named by Parker’s husband (a Game of Thrones fan) and seven-year-old son (a Star Wars fan) as that was the only way Parker could convince them to adopt her. (Arya is pictured opening the box of WHERE FUTURES END ARCs for Parker.)

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Top Sixteen: Conference Strategies for Author Introverts

Photo credit to RT Book Reviews Online.

Photo credit to RT Book Reviews Online.

Conference season is upon us! As we give autographs to crowds of adoring readers, deny requests for interviews since we are far too much in demand, and wear dark glasses so as not to be recognized, here’s what most of us really need:

TOP SIXTEEN CONFERENCE STRATEGIES FOR AUTHOR INTROVERTS

1) Make friends with an extrovert. Memorize her schedule and dog her footsteps.

2) Remember that kickass character from your last book? Role play him/her–just don’t forget, your name is not actually Sir Sagramore Quidd of the Magesterium.

3) Keep a running mental tally of awkward pauses in conversations. Once you’ve hit ten, you’ve earned yourself a free hour alone in your hotel room, decompressing. No cheating by forcing awkward pauses with even more awkward questions, like “How much was your advance?”

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Top 16 List: Sixteen Author Outlaws

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Feeling shackled by what authors are told we MUST and MUST NOT do? Things like “never respond to reviews”, or “maintain a constant online presence” or “sell a million books all by yourself prior to the release date or your career is doomed” ?  Then feast your eyes on a rogues gallery of Author Outlaws…the ones who dared to defy the rules!

Outlaw #1:  Not on Twitter. Not on Pinterest. Doesn’t care.

Outlaw #2:  Called her copyeditor anonymously at 2 a.m. to demonstrate that you can, indeed, “breathe” dialogue.

Outlaw#3:  Freely admits he wrote his runaway bestselling picture book Look at the Pretty, Pretty Flowers on his iPhone at his sister’s wedding after his second bottle of champagne.

Outlaw #4: Plans to argue online with anyone who gives her book a bad review.

Outlaw #5: Her book opens with a prologue where the main character wakes up and looks in the mirror.

Outlaw #6: Writes children’s books; is actually terrified of children.

Outlaw #7: Surprise! The whole book was a dream!

Outlaw #8: Don’t tell her agent, but her secret WIP is: #$*?&@: A Preschooler’s Dictionary of Swear Words.

Outlaw #9: Ever since his divorce, puts his phone number next to his name at book signings.

Outlaw #10: Her latest book, The Squashing of the Vermin, features characters whose names are suspiciously the same as boys from her past.

Outlaw #11: Wrote a book about learning to respect your elders, and her grandchildren illustrated it. When it sells, she’ll use the advance to build a new library.

Outlaw #12: Exclusively writes main characters and love interests with bluish-purplish-green-gray eyes.

Outlaw #13: Has decided to spend 99% of her advance on attending one writers’ conference, staying in the penthouse suite at the conference hotel and ordering the in-room chef dining service every night by herself.

Outlaw #14: Writes numerous blog posts and tweets shouting “always be writing the next book!” but has been working on the second book forEVER yet always has time to watch the latest hyped series on Netflix.

Outlaw #15: In downtime, works on a filthy, profanity-filled picture book, and sends it to his agent with a ten-point missive explaining exactly why he believes this will sell.  Never admits to it being a joke.

Outlaw #16: Googles the latest-selling trends to ensure a quick sale for book two. Can’t decide on which trend to write, so he decides to make book two a fanfic of a fanfic he read about on someone’s fanfic blog.

Contributors:  Bridget Hodder, Sarah Ahlers, Ami Allen-Vath, Amy Allgeyer, Brooks Benjamin, Victoria Coe, Kurt Dinan, Emily Henry, and Lee Gjertsen Malone

Top Sixteen: Poses for Authors

Credit: Raymond Carver Author Photo

Credit: Raymond Carver Author

Are you a new author? Haven’t had your headshots done yet?

No fear! Your kind friends at The Sweet Sixteens have compiled a list of the Top Sixteen Author Poses, to keep you from making any dreadful career-killing mistakes, such as appearing too much like your natural self.

THE TOP SIXTEEN POSES FOR AUTHOR PHOTOS

1. “The Literary Smoulder”: Preferably black and white; transfix them with your moody gaze. Extra points if you manage to transfix them while not even looking at the camera.

2. “Miss Middle Grade”: Scrunch yourself up small and give a nice, nice smile as you think nice, nice thoughts. Tilt your head just a little bit to the side, just in case anyone might think your small self and your nice, nice smile are the teeniest bit threatening.

3. “Mysterious Madam”: Hold a scarf, or teacup, or cat over part of your face. Leave your readers wondering what you really look like.

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