Posted by: Kerry Gans | June 23, 2011

Top Picks Thursday 6-23-2011

Today we’re going to start off with two links that are very close to home and on wildly different ends of the emotional spectrum:

First, congratulations to classmate Tiffany Schmidt, who landed her first book deal! Her contemporary YA novel SEND ME A SIGN debuts from Walker Children’s in Fall 2012. It’s a great book, and I cannot wait to buy my copy!

On the other end of the spectrum, author L.A. Banks is gravely ill. Like many freelancer writers (yes, even bestselling authors), her medical insurance cannot keep pace with the skyrocketing cost of her care. The romance writers community have come together to host an auction for her benefit. Further fundraisers are in the planning stages, and you can find updates on the Liars’ Club blog as they occur.

Now back to regular business!


We all need inspiration when writing, and we writers find it in the strangest places! Stacy Post found some while visiting a cigar shop, while Donna Galanti got some from her cats. And when inspiration cannot be found, Jamie Rubin advises literally feeding your writer’s block.

Once inspired, every writer has to face the daunting beginning of the story. Author Barbara Tyler introduces the concept of the inverted pyramid; YA and middle grade author Paul Dorset shows us how NOT to start a story (and then how to); agent Jill Corcoran tells us the best way to activate the beginning of your story; and author Jennifer Holbrook-Talty tackles the perennial boogieman of backstory.

Now we’ve gotten the story started, but those darn characters are acting up and giving us trouble! Author Jami Gold explores the causes of unlikable characters (and how to fix them); Keli Gwyn interviews The Character Therapist Jeannie Campbell and discusses ways to portray various character types; and Stacey at the YA Fantasy Guide solves the long-standing conundrum of what women want in a leading man (in YA fantasy, at least).

Once you’ve got that first draft under your belt, it’s time to revise. Author Terri Giuliano Long dares us to break two cardinal rules of writing—as long as it serves the story best. analyses a writing sample to show how to improve a scene. Finally, Adventures in Children’s Literature brings us Forty Questions to strengthen your manuscript, best done before you begin but helpful even in the revision stage.


A lot of the marketing of your book will fall on your shoulders these days. Randy Susan Meyers takes a look at the emotional side of having to sell yourself and your book and gives us a good list of resources so we can learn how to do it well. Author Piper Bayard gives the run-down on how to gain and keep followers on Twitter (treat everyone like they’re about to die). The Book Designer shows us 9 ways to market your book with no money. Author Troy Howell offers a unique approach to an author reading. Donna Galanti passes along marketing branding tips from the 2011 Philadelphia Writers’ Conference, while author Maria Zannini runs down the essential pre-, during, and post-conference checklists to ensure you make the most of your conference experience.

With the world of ebooks on the rise, the temptation to avoid the tradional publishers and go straight to self-publishing is strong. Author Bob Mayer explains why first-time authors should not self-publish, and why established authors with backlists might find it lucrative. Meanwhile, science fiction and fantasy author Chris Moriarty examines his (and our) conflicting feelings about ebooks.

If we choose to go the traditional publishing route, we need an agent, which means…the query letter! Stacey O’Neale at YA Fantasy Guide lays out a concise 4-paragraph structure to follow to success. Author Robin O’Bryant reminds us that knowledge of your target agent (and a little moxie) is a major factor in writing the perfect query. Once an agent calls you, how do you know he or she is the right agent for you? Stina Lindenblatt at tells us how to avoid signing with the wrong agent.

Even when you have that perfect agent, you can’t always protect the title of your work. Many non-writers are shocked to find that we don’t always control the final titles of our books. The Awl interviews four authors—Laurie Frankel, Suzanne Morrison, Richard Rushfield and Urban Waite—about their experiences changing (or not) the titles of their works.

Lastly, if the Internet lures you away from your work far too frequently, you are not alone. Victoria Strauss feels your pain, and gives us some computer programs designed to help minimize the temptations. So stop Googling, Facebooking, Tweeting, and reading those blogs (except ours, of course!) and get back to work!

See you next week!


  1. Thanks for the link. 🙂 And what a great collection of sites to check out – Thanks!


    • No problem, Jami. Your site has some great info on it. I loved your “Googlable” article!


  2. Thanks for the link! What a wonderful collection of resources all in one place. 🙂


  3. Thanks for the shout out!


  4. What a fantastic summary of resources! Thank you for taking the time to put this together. I’m honored to be included. 🙂


    • Thanks for the great article, Piper. Funny, poignant, and spot on.


  5. Thanks for the shout-out. Great links!


  6. Great stuff here, guys! And thanks for the 2x shout out 😉 Keep the info flowing.


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