Posted by: Kerry Gans | December 8, 2011

Top Picks Thursday 12-08-2011

Let the holiday parties commence! If you’re in Philadelphia, don’t miss the Annual Philadelphia Writers, Authors and Publishing Holiday Party at Bliss on December 12.

YALSA selected five books as finalists for the 2012 YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults, which honors the best nonfiction books written for young adults between Nov. 1, 2010 and Oct. 31, 2011.


There are about a zillion books about writing out there. Jody Hedlund believes they can teach you a lot, and gives us 6 tips to make learning fiction techniques less painful. Shelli Johnson thinks writers are better served writing than reading about writing, but still lists 3 books that gave her good writing advice. Rebecca Cantrell insists that learning to write is all about reading the books you love.

R.S. Guthrie talks character development; Donald Maass says that self-knowledge is an important character trait; and Derek Flynn thinks using character lists are a waste of time.

Patrick Ross says the key to good storytelling is a balance of showing AND telling; Jami Gold tells us how to make the most of a scene; Holly S. Wrath tackles writing about another culture; and James Scott Bell tells us to write what we fear.

Jody Hedlund talks what to do with contradictory feedback; Roni Loren shares that changing up your writing process can be scary but liberating; Carolyn Kaufman explains the need to have magical rules in fantasy world building; Diane Holmes gives us some tool to test our pacing; and Terri Guiliano Long explores how story structure variation can make a story uniquely yours.

We all revise, but Mary Kole says unless you revise big, you’re probably not revising deeply enough; Lynette Labelle says a sure way to connect with readers is to know what readers’ expectations are and then deliver; Broca’s Area blog talks 10 writing mistakes every writer makes; Scott Bury shares some editing pitfalls to avoid; and Kenna Griffin shows us 12 rudimentary ways to improve your writing.

To help fire up your creativity, Neil Gaiman gives a pep talk on first drafts; Daphne Gray-Grant asks what is your toothbrush level of writing; eat these 9 brain foods for writers; and for the parent-writers among us, Frank Cottrell Boyce talks about “Art After Children”.


Everyone follows a different path to publication, but Lisa Gail Green tries to pinpoint the similarities we all face on the publishing journey; Chuck Wendig warns writers to beware the seduction of self-publishing too early; and Josie Brown wonders if traditional publishing or self-publishing is the way to go with your just completed NaNoWriMO book.

Piper Deena of Lyrical Press talks what editors are really looking for in a submission, while Sarah LaPolla of Curtis Brown examines three ways writers can unintentionally look unprofessional when they are trying to do the opposite.

Chuck Wendig examines 25 Things You Should Know About Your Completed Novel; Writer’s Relief gives us the 5 most dangerous career pitfalls for a new writer; and Deborah Niemann confronts the fear of public speaking.

Indiebound reader is available on IOS and Android; the Passive Voice tackles copyright law; and editor Pamela Paul is Transforming Children’s Book Coverage at the New York Times.


Examine a possible newly discovered portrait of Jane Austen.

Take a look at 14 wonderfully obscure punctuation marks.

The University of Melbourne is digitizing their Middle Eastern manuscripts, and you can check them out here.

The British Library has stumbled upon a medieval mystery.

Browse the medieval illuminations from Odoric de Pordenone (Italy) for the “Book of Marvels” of Marco Polo.

Check out St. Andrew’s Rare books, this week featuring a fantastic binding from Sweden.

Ollin Morales discusses how to endure the quiet period of slow growth after the large dramatic moments in writing and in life.

And, because the holidays make us introspective, here are 50 ways to show gratitude in your life. Get some good karma going!

That’s all for this week!

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