Posted by: Kerry Gans | February 9, 2012

Top Picks Thursday 02-09-2012

Everyone wants free stuff that’s actually useful, and Jane Friedman brings us 7 Free Ebooks that will help us with our writing and publishing careers.

Also free, and a great deal of fun, are Lucas Mangum’s Awesome Reading Fests. Lucas is really giving back to the book community and spotlighting other authors. Read about his latest Reading Fest at Doylestown Bookstore, and see if you want to start something like this in your neck of the woods.

A neat idea to connect crit partners and/or beta readers: a blogfest. Loralie Hall hosts a blogfest to connect betas and/or crit partners Feb 10-13.

Having trouble finding time to write? David Hunter Shaw presents a flow chart on How To Know When You Should Be Writing.

In blog tour news, friends of the blog Jonathan Maberry (Dead of Night – zombies) and Marie Lamba (Drawn – paranormal YA) are touring—catch up with them at their latest stops! Marie was interviewed here on Feb 1st, and we also reviewed her book, Drawn.


Patrick Samphire tackles the question: Is popular fiction legitimate in its own right? While Smart Bitches lament that genre readers (particularly romance readers) are made to feel ashamed of what they read.

Before anything gets read, it must be written. Sometimes, when you’ve been away from writing, it’s hard to get back on track. Nathan Bransford has some tips for returning to writing after a long break. If you are a poet, Robert Lee Brewer gives 5 ways how to write a poem when you’re stuck. For prose writers, Robert C. Parker has a method to choose the right topic to write about. Matt Robb shares tips to fake out that inner censor so you can get writing, and Krissy Brady lays out the basics of project planning and execution.

There are many things that make a good novel good. Adventures in Children’s Publishing uses Hunger Games as an example of creating characters we care about and continually upping the stakes. Setting is often a major player in a novel, and Joanna Penn introduces us to Catacombs in an entry on The Bookshelf Muse’s awesome Setting Thesaurus tool. Character is arguably the most important facet of a book, and Aimee Said explains why it pays to talk to your characters as a writer.

In almost every plot, characters are gaining knowledge about something and seeking the truth about something. James Killick gives us 4 ways your protagonist can learn the truth, while Janice Hardy tells us how to track character knowledge so we can find it easily when we need it. Characters need emotion as well as knowledge, if we are to care about them, so Sharla Rae shares tips to mine for character emotion.

Juliette Wade makes an argument for writing your story in present tense. And when you’re done writing, Mike Duerksen has a handy 18-point checklist for proofreaders, aimed at non-fiction but good for everyone.

Every writer needs inspiration to slog through the hard times. Author Jami Gold, after a few weeks of emotional turmoil, asks her fellow writers how to keep writing through life’s chaos. Kat Howard shares her words of power, while Lists of Note gives us Henry Miller’s 11 Commandments. Ara Grigorian finds help through Occam’s Razor and advice from Stephen King; Ric Dragon lists the 12 most valuable lessons learned in the “long write” of his book; and Jennifer Niven shares pertinent advice from her Uncle Bill. Perhaps the most often heard and best advice is “Know Thyself,” to which end Joanna Penn exposes 7 truths about writers.


It seems we can’t go a week without another volley in the Amazon-vs.-Traditional Publishing conflict. This week The Authors Guild weighed in with its thoughts on Amazon. Barnes & Noble and other major retail outlets joined the independent bookstores in declaring a boycott of Amazon-published books. Many people are cheering the boycott, but Jon F. Merz takes a thoughtful look at why Barnes & Noble just made a big mistake.

In further kerfluffles in the writing world, Diana Peterfreund demystifies the RWA ban of LGBT stories in their writing contest, while Melissa Foster tackles the often virulent conflict between indie and traditional authors by declaring that the line between indie and traditional is illusory and authors should make use of both lines of publishing.

Harold Underdown has years of experience with picture books. If that’s your genre, take a look at his advice on: How to properly submit a picture book, how to get out of the slush pile, and take the How Do I Get It Published Quiz to test your knowledge of the business.

Ever wonder what agents do all day? Check out the Twitter hashtag #agentday and find out. A couple of new agents to check out: Marie Lamba of the Jennifer DeChiara Agency and Carlie Webber of Jane Rotrosen Lit. Be sure to read their submissions guidelines carefully!

Michael A. Ventrella gives insight into writing a solid query letter to agents, and agent Chip MacGregor answers questions from writers.

In marketing, Matthew Pearl talks about expanding the world of your novel to keep readers interested; Daryl Grabarek lists some book-inspired apps for middle school kids; and Rachelle Gardner gives us 5 reasons to embrace the brave new world of social media instead of running away screaming. Renee Pawlish has tips on blog layout for authors, while Emma Straub tells us how an author can be an indie bookseller’s dream with a great booksigning. Rob Eager gives 3 reasons why your book isn’t selling, and Carrie Green talks about Product Descriptions for your book.


Shakespeare’s Sisters at the Folger Library is a wonderful look at women writers from 1500-1700—an era when female writers were far from prevalent.

And for something totally different: Tony Lee & Dan Boultwood Create A Live Comic At The SFX Weekender.

That’s it for us this week!


  1. Thanks, Kerry, for including Writers In the Storm in your Thursday picks! I loved Sharla’s post (her lists are amazing) and I’m glad you did too. 🙂


    • You’re welcome, Jenny. If I can’t connect to a character as a reader, I usually don’t finish the book. But we writers know just how hard finding the right way to express character emotion can be. Sharla’s tips were very helpful!


  2. Thanks, Kerry, for calling out my post on “Occam’s Razor and advice from Stephen King.” I greatly appreciate it! And if Mr. King was aware of this, he would be grateful as well 🙂


    • You’re welcome, Ara. We writers can overthink things so much, sometimes the reminder to simplify is much needed!


  3. […] Truth From Fiction – Quick And Easy Miscellaneous Diet And Fitness Facts – World Trends NewsTop Picks Thursday 02-09-2012 body { background-color: #ffffff; […]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


%d bloggers like this: