Posted by: Kerry Gans | January 19, 2012

Top Picks Thursday 01-19-2012

WRITING COMMUNITY

Horror maven Lucas Mangum talks about what he’s expecting from the horror world and the writing world in 2012. One thing he works towards is fostering a sense of community among writers—if you’re local, come to his next Awesome Reading Fest, and if you’re not, think about starting your own!

Horror anthology Rage Against the Night benefits Horror Writing Association president Rocky Wood in his fight with ALS. Support a good cause and get a great read!

Author Diane Duane’s bank account was cleaned out by ATM skimmers. You can help her by purchasing her ebooks at 20%.

In a tragic collision of life and art, author Tiffany Schmidt says goodbye to Morgan, the young girl battling cancer to whom she dedicated her upcoming book, Send Me A Sign. “A blog post I wish I’d never had to write.”

LIBRARIES

Libraries are cornerstones of communities and huge supporters of authors. The School Library Journal launches a Petition to Save School Libraries. The deadline to sign is February 4th, so please sign it and spread the word in your blogs and tweets!

Books are challenged every day. See what some librarians face, and what libraries can do about book challenge issues.

Support both libraries and teen readers! Check out TLT: Teen Librarian’s Toolbox: The 2012 Project.

CRAFT

How do you even learn how to write? Author K.M. Weiland explains how she learned to write and how you can, too. Since so much of the writing and publishing process involves waiting, Julie Anne Lindsey has 7 tips for gaining experience and getting attention while you’re waiting. And Angela Scott wonders how dreams play into authors’ writing—and how horror authors can sleep at night with all the weird dreams they must have!

Characters are of utmost importance to any novel, but especially if the character is going to carry a multi-book series. Author Harry Shannon writes about creating a series character that lasts. Perhaps the most long-lived series character ever, Sherlock Holmes makes a comeback in a new anthology , A Study In Sherlock. But how do we create characters readers will want to visit again and again? Roz Morris explains how to round out your characters using internal contradictions.

“Write what you know” is advice writers hear from the moment they start writing. Rochelle Melander asks the question: What do you know? and tells us how to take a writer’s inventory to spark ideas. Jen Miller turns the time-honored advice on its head by saying “know what you write,” with suggestions on how to research fantasy topics—which almost always have roots in folklore. Speaking of fantasy, Amy Rose Davis explains how to find that sweet spot of description in fantasy—and her suggestions can be used in any genre.

Revision is crucial to producing a stellar book. Elizabeth S. Craig shares how to eliminate “echoes” (repeated words) in our writing; Tabitha Olson explains how to turn that pesky first-draft telling into powerful showing; and Art Holcomb examines the essence of storytelling and gives tips to make sure all your scenes are dramatic and necessary to your story.

To further polish your writing, Rachel Larow shows how subplots can lift a story; the English Club supplies a cheat sheet on using the subjunctive tense; Leigh Anne Jasheway explains how to improve your writing by thinking like a comedy writer; and Kristin Lamb asks: Can critique groups do more harm than good?

Need a motivator to get your creativity going? Margarita Tartakovsky shares 8 effective ways to harness creativity, and Harry J. Connolly talks writing and productivity. Susan Ricci reminds writers that even though writing is a solitary pursuit, someone’s got your back, while Scott Morgan says that writers have nothing to fear except themselves.

LISTS, SUBMISSIONS, AND AGENTS

Fully one-third of USA Today’s top 100 bestselling books of 2011 are for children or teens.

How to submit to Third Sunday Blog Carnival online magazine.

New agent Carrie Pestritto of Prospect Agency seeks non-fiction and fiction, including YA.

BUSINESS

There are two main routes to getting an agent: the query or the face-to-face at a writer’s conference. For querying authors, agent @SaraMegibow‘s #10queriesIn10tweets on Twitter gives one agent’s first impression of queries, while Roni Loren lists mistakes that will make an agent “gong” your query. And for conference goers, Brian A. Klems tells how to avoid 10 common conference mistakes that most writers make.

Once you’ve got your agent, hopefully your book contract will not be far behind! Chip MacGregor explains how money is paid on a book contract; and Veronica Roth explores why it takes so long to get your book traditionally published.

Agent Jenny Bent tells why traditional publishing should stop with the elitist gatekeeper mentality while she praises the new self-publishing avenues that let authors reach their readers directly. In an example of how the new paradigm can work, self-pubbed author Brittany Geragotelis’s novel Life’s A Witch has garnered her an agent and offers from every media and country imaginable. If you want to be like Brittany, follow Kristin Lamb’s advice and understand the why behind the buy.

If you want to get your career into gear, Chuck Wendig offers 25 things writers should start doing right now. Writer Tank lists 5 reasons you should link to other blogs and Jami Gold reminds us of the power of our networks to spread information. Meanwhile, Steve Piacente tells us how to write your own press release, so you’ll have something worthwhile to spread over your network.

Digital technology is changing how readers interact with authors and their material. Readers fall in love with characters and never want the series to end. Authors understand this and some are building interactive websites for their series—J.K. Rowling’s Pottermore site being the best known. Will this trend take off in YA and middle grade, which seems like a prime demographic for this sort of inter-media connection?

A digital rights showdown is brewing between HarperCollins and Open Road over the e-book rights to JULIE AND THE WOLVES. While there have been other e-book cases, all have been settled out of court. Any court ruling in this case will be important to authors who had books published prior to the existence of e-books. New technologies bring new ways of scammers getting to unsuspecting authors, and Preditors & Editors website editor David L. Kuzminski discusses how to avoid getting scammed. Digital publishing maven Jane Friedman gives authors some e-book stats to watch.

No discussion of the brave new world of e-books is complete without mentioning Amazon. Sarah Lacy’s “Confessions of a Publisher” shows just how scared traditional publishers are of Amazon—and why their fears might not be unfounded. The corporate giant itself is under fire for the rampant plagiarism found on Amazon’s self-publishing pages (and its apparent lack of concern about it), prompting many responses from authors across the web, such as this one from author Kathy Kulig.

THE UNIQUE SHELF

If you’re researching France, here is a large collection of historic French & French territory & world maps.

Historical research isn’t complete without historical ailments. From “Fright” to “Headmould,” find out what killed people in olden days. Mary Hooper brings us a look at the “bills of mortuary”.

Afraid you don’t have the credentials to be a children’s book author? Take a look at these unlikely children’s book authors and maybe you’ll feel better.

Admit it, you’ve fallen for a character a time or two. Strange Chemistry Books asks: Who is your YA crush?

Finally, in a comic for writers: Apostrophe Abuse.

That’s all for this week!


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