Posted by: Kerry Gans | November 17, 2011

Top Picks Thursday 11-17-2011

A shout out to our writer friend Tiffany Schmidt. Her novel Send Me A Sign, will debut next year, but a year ago she debuted beautiful twin boys! She’s posted a heartfelt blog post from a grateful mommy to the NICU. Happy First Birthday, Schmidtlets!

We’re midway through NaNoWriMo! How are you doing? Bullish Ink talks about facing the difficult middle of your book during NaNo; Kelly Simmons pays tribute to NaNo with her post, You Know You’re A Writer When…; and Jody Hedlund investigates how to keep writing when the enthusiasm fades. It’s in honor of NaNo, but the advice is good anytime.

For the romance writers out there, Harlequin is seeking new authors in an online contest.

And for YA writers, Angry Robot announces its new YA imprint, Strange Chemistry!


I’ve been hearing a lot about “fast drafting” lately, perhaps because of NaNo’s frantic pace. For those who want to know what it is and how you do it, Jami Gold breaks “fast drafting” down.

The true value of NaNo for many people is the kick-start it gives them. But really, it’s about setting goals and achieving them, isn’t it? Goals are important. Scott Bury talks about setting your goals as a writer, and Joanna Penn shows the importance of writer goals and character goals.

There’s a million and one things we need to think about as writers, including the mechanics of the work. Kathryn Craft discusses how less is more, and the white space on the page is as important as the black marks. Carolyn Arnold advises not obsessing about word count, especially early on—and never cut words at the expense of telling your story the way it needs to be told. And Scott Bury demystifies apostrophe use with pronouns.

Mechanics aside, there’s all that content to deal with, too! Amy Rose Davis talks about what makes romance work in fantasy, but her tips will work for any genre. Karen Strong argues that opening your novel with action is not always best, and that there is a right way to use description as a novel opening. Janice Hardy feels that there has been such an upsurge in characters betraying one another in fiction, that it has almost become expected—but she tells us how to use betrayal to its fullest without being cliché. Jeannie Campbell strives to make the point that early backstory can kill a reader’s interest, only to be swayed by the comments that early backstory can be a great tool to pique reader’s interest.

In further things writers need to deal with, Charise Olsen talks about finding your perfect critique partner match—and how to keep the relationship good over the long term; Angie Frazier lists some tips for crafting the dreaded outline; and Roni Loren addresses a little known dangerous side effect of becoming a writer—reading less.

Although I know “revision” is a four-letter-word during NaNo, Jamie McHenry discusses the power of a re-write; Writer’s Digest tells us how to gain perspective on our work so we can revise better; and Janice Hardy shows us how to sew together all the pieces from multiple revisions and what pitfalls to avoid.

The writing path is not an easy one. Julie Musil reminds us all that a writer’s journey is not easy, but it is possible to reach your goals. Meanwhile, Daphne Gray-Grant contemplates luck in a writer’s life, with writing lessons learned from a $99 tuxedo.

In a tongue-in-cheek article, NPR gives you the formula to find the perfect title for your first novel.


In self-publishing news, Penguin has launched Book Country, an online genre community with an array of tools for authors to self-publish. Jeff Bennington asks every writer to seriously ask him or herself if it is time to go indie. Chuck Wendig shakes his head at how toxic tempers and fevered egos in publishing and self-publishing have led to a debate that really isn’t one.

For those on the traditional publishing path, KT Literary dissects a query letter to show what works and what doesn’t; Laurie Abkemeier makes us laugh with: From my archives of unfortunate query letters…; Richard Curtis blogs about nondisclosure agreements (NDA) in publishing; Rachelle Gardner gives her viewpoint on whether some confusing agent behavior is asking too much, unethical, or perfectly legit; and SCBWI takes a stand with its Open Letter on No Response Means No Interest Agents.

In digital publishing, Publisher’s Weekly announces that Top Shelf launches two apps for the iPhone and iPad in order to bring digital comics and graphic novels to more customers.

I’m sure many of you know that Amazon’s Kindle Lending program has come under fire because it seems a number of the titles are being lent without permission. The Authors Guild weighs in this week on the Kindle Lending program and questions whether ANY of the titles can be legally lent without explicit contractual consent between author and publisher. Meanwhile, USA Today recaps developments as libraries around the country are ramping up their e-book lending.

Marketing and platform—two confusing topics for many writers. Jane Friedman guides a writer on what to spend money on in marketing; agent Mary Kole advises fiction writers to not sweat the platform before you write the book; and author Jane Isaacs talks about the basics of an Author Platform. The bottom line is that authors need to connect with their readers. On USA Today’s Happy Ever After, new author Joan Swan and veteran author Suzanne Brockmann talk about differences in connecting with readers now and then.

Sharla Rae lists blog dos and don’ts, and Roni Loren explores the 10 stages in the life cycle of a blogger.

Finally, is Klout losing its clout? Many authors are choosing to de-Klout themselves, and John Scalzi explains de-Kloutifiying. Meanwhile, the New York Times digs into Klout’s automatically creating profiles of minors and other concerns with the technology.


Was Jane Austen poisoned? Crime novelist Lindsay Ashford thinks so.

PBS Kids launches an Augmented Reality App, and the Author Chronicles wonders if augmented reality storytelling is next.

I know it’s not even Thanksgiving, but if you are shopping for a bibliophile, Books and Ribbons is an interesting site to visit.


  1. Thanks so much for highlighting Charla Rae’s Blogging tips!
    And everything else, for that matter. I now have hours of blog surfing!


    • Our pleasure, Laura. Sharing the informative posts we enjoy is one of the highlights of our week. Have fun reading them!


  2. Thanks so much for the link love! You all have outdone yourself this week–oodles of great links. 🙂


    • It’s sure to keep people busy this week, that’s certain! We’re looking forward to reading your next post. No pressure! 🙂


  3. Thanks for the link love. And wow, this is a great roundup, so much to check out. 🙂


    • You’re welcome, Roni! Seems like you always have something worth linking to – you have a great blog!


    • It’s a pleasure sharing the posts we discover and love, Roni. With five of us contributing, we come up with a wonderful variety.


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