Posted by: Kerry Gans | July 7, 2011

Top Picks Thursday 7-7-2011

Welcome to Top Picks Thursday!

First, author L.A. Banks is still fighting a horrible illness. If you want to help her and her family, there’s a wonderful benefit scheduled.

Back on June 9, we spoke about the Wall Street Journal piece by children’s book critic Meghan Cox Guerdon, in which she asserted that YA fiction is “overly dark” and the ensuing backlash on Twitter’s #YASaves. On July 6, Guerdon and YA author Maureen Johnson debated the topic on NPR.

In other YA news, a new online magazine called Suckers Literary Magazine will showcase emerging YA writers, and is accepting story submissions until October 1.

And for those of you concerned (or enraged) about the thought of Casey Anthony getting a huge book deal after her “not guilty” verdict, author Jason Pinter explains why this will never happen.

Now on to our multitude of links this week!


Every story has a beginning, middle, and end. Editor and author Kathryn Craft shows us that breaking the rules about how to begin a story can be riveting; author Janice Hardy organizes all the story arcs we need to avoid the dreaded “sagging middle”; and author James Scott Bell tells us how to craft a knock-out ending in any genre.

Every YA novel must have a love interest, and Rookie Riter makes the case that said boyfriend should be of the too-good-to-be-true variety. And once the girls find out that no man can ever match up to those YA love interests, they will need therapy—so psychologist/author Jennifer Lane tells us how to write authentic therapy scenes.

Words on the page. That’s all there is for us writers. Author Anne Greenwood Brown shares her method for flinging words on the page at breakneck speed, while author Cheryl Renee Herbsman assures us that sometimes it’s okay to be lured into a “shiny new” project when stuck in the middle of a current one. Susan Cushman shares author John Brandon’s secret for writing fiction that reads fast.

Finally, writing can be a transformative experience—for both the reader and writer. Author Assist talks about visionary authors and the path to success. Although geared toward non-fiction, fiction authors can learn from it, too. And the Plot Whisperer discusses how the act of writing can change the writer into someone new—if you let it.


As we all know, everything is changing in the publishing business. Business models are proliferating faster than rabbits. Author Barry Eisler discusses the misconceptions about the new agent-assisted self-publishing model; author Bob Mayer talks about making indie publishing successful in the new marketplace; and editor Alan Rinzler reminds authors that their backlists can now be gold mines.

Social media drives many writers crazy, because there are no real rules of how to do it successfully or how to know if it’s working. And there is the time factor–we feel like we don’t have enough time to do it all. Author Kristen Lamb has an excellent post on how to social network the right way—and she’s running a contest to have your first 5 pages critiqued! Now that you know how to make the best use of your time on social media, here’s a post on the difference between a Facebook profile page and fan page—and how to get the most value out of each.

Queries. Enough said. In a mere 15 words, author Elle Strauss tells us all we need to know about how to write a winning query, and critiques a query to show us what she means. For those of you trying to sell short stories to zines, here are some tips on how not to shoot yourself in the foot.

Once you’ve got that fantastic query letter, you need an agent. There are many places to go online to search for agents, but from Guide to Literary Agents, here is a loooooong list of new agents and what they’re looking for. If you still aren’t sure just how to go about getting an agent, Stacey at YA Fantasy Guide gives a quick overview.

Once you’re published, some of you may want a publicist to promote your book. Choose your publicist wisely—Writer Beware shares some red flags to watch for in your search.

And if you’re looking for feedback and support for your work, A.M. Supinger tells about her fantastic experience with AgentQuery Connect.

Finally, just for fun, a comic on the power (and danger) of words in this viral age.

We had so many links this week, we will be having a Saturday Special – check it out for a By The Numbers linkfest!

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