Posted by: Kerry Gans | September 8, 2011

Top Picks Thursday 9-8-2011


Creativity can be elusive, as anyone in a creative field will tell you. And that’s when you work at it every day. What happens when you are away from the creative life for an extended period of time? Can you find a way to turn it back on? Patrick Ross explores how to return to the creative life after an extended period away. And for those of us who wrestle with creativity every day, Cheryl Reif suggests the use of deadlines for motivation – even if they are self-imposed.

Author Ash Krafton writes about the art of Charles Vess and what writers can learn from his concept of poetic space; author Susan Sipal uses Harry Potter to examine demonstrating character by showing how your hero or secondary treats other people; editor Theresa Stevens explores exaggerating virtues to turn them into realistic and yet appealing character flaws; and Adventures in Children’s Publishing explores using details to ground the reader in the world of your story, then mixing in universal generalities to involve the reader emotionally.

Are you a pantser or a plotter—and is there a happy medium in between? Roni Loren explains how using screenwriting techniques can create a balance between a plotter’s uber-organization and a pantser’s lost-in-the-story-wilderness panic, while Donald Maass, James Scott Bell, and Christopher Vogler discuss story structure

Speaking of needing excellent story structure, J.C. Martin gives the rundown on what makes good flash fiction (stories of 1,000 words or less).
To get that story structure right (and get all those other details polished as well), a good critique partner is invaluable. But what makes a partnership “successful?” Author Denise Tompkins dissects what makes a successful critique partner – and it isn’t necessarily being a published author.

From critiques come revision notes. If you are one of those writers who hates the revision process, Blaire Kensley speaks out on your behalf. 

Wanna write YA? Read it. So says author Julie Cross, who argues that reading YA is the best way to learn how to write it—and to learn if you really should be writing it in the first place. She also includes a nice list of books to read to catch you up. 


J.A. Konrath answers the “how to succeed question,” boiling it down to writing a  lot for a long time, selling what you write cheaply, and waiting for the “luck” that comes from hard work and perseverance. Michael A. Ventrella applies the 3 secrets of success (talent, hard work & meeting & impressing the right people) to his (or anyone’s) career—but he argues that you don’t need to wait for luck to find you. You can be proactive and network with the right people, thus finding luck yourself.

Before finding success (no matter what path you take to get there), you have to start writing. If you’ve always got some reason why you can’t do what needs to get done, Kimberly Zook presents The Procrastinator’s Guide to Starting Your Writing Career. Read it now, because you know you’ll just keep putting it off otherwise.

While YA Fantasy Guide is slanted towards, well, YA Fantasy, this index of their very helpful articles contains helpful advice for writers of all genres.

Since the Internet is the key to everything these days, you knew we’d get around to it eventually! We’ll talk blogs, spam, Facebook, and websites. But I promise this week we will not mention Twitter.

J. Lea Lopez has posted a series of blogs: A Writer’s Guide to Successful Blogging. Part 3 discusses the right and wrong way to hyperlink within a blog post. (We do it right!) If you like that, read Parts 1 (building brand in your blog) & 2 (finding time to blog) as well.

Living online can be treacherous, so author Jami Gold uses (amusing but true) spam blog comments to illustrate points of behavior and writing every writer should heed.

Facebook can be very useful for growing a fan base—if you use it right. Chennai Social Media gives a few tips on using your Fan Page wisely.

Social network sites are the center of the new author universe, right? Wrong. Penny C. Sansevieri tells why your author website—not free social networking sites—should be the center of your online universe.

And because Penny makes a convincing argument, Greta van der Rol puts her former life in IT to good use and gives us 5 tips to building a better author website.

Happy writing and we’ll see you next week!


  1. Thanks so much for including us! This is a great roundup.

    Have a great weekend,



    • Martina – I love your blog, you always have great information. Every YA writer should read it! Kerry


  2. Thanks for the mention. I really enjoyed this article…and had a great time checking out the links.


    • You’re welcome! It’s fun putting this together each week, because 5 people contribute links. This gives 5 different perspectives and we all get to see blogs we don’t normally look at. Hope you found some useful links!


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