Posted by: Kerry Gans | February 16, 2012

Top Picks Thursday 02-16-2012

No community news today, so let’s dive right in!


In YA, Jill Corcoran discusses the importance of keeping up with current teen trends—in this case, lip dubs. Melissa Kantor talks about why she writes YA, and Lucas Klauss shares what it’s like being a guy writing YA. And no matter what your genre, Lindsay N. Currie reminds us of the importance of reading in the genre you write in.

Anna DeStefano reminds us that character rules, and that needs to be the focus of everything we write. Margot Kinberg explores self-destructive character in crime fiction. Authors should always choose a POV character that can give a powerful and unique view to the story. How about a zombie as a POV character? Author Jonathan Maberry does just that. And Chuck Wendig gives us 25 things you should know about protagonists.

In spite of their importance, characters are just one element of the story. Alexandra Sokoloff shares key story element lessons learned from musical theater. Marie Lamba talks about her struggles with finding and sticking to the main plotlines of her latest book and not getting drawn down tempting side plots. And Talia Vance discusses the extreme importance of endings—if it doesn’t live up to the promise of the beginning, you won’t have happy readers.

Once you’re done that draft, Jami Gold shares how to revise for story structure. Revision is usually where you start layering nuances into your work. Tim Kane gives tips on how to install creepy into your prose, and Susan Sipal examines the Valentine’s Day from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets to show how many things J.K. Rowling accomplishes in those scenes. While this is best done before you write, Thomas A. Knight explains magic systems in fantasy and what makes them work. And Janice Hardy advises what to do when your novel is too short.

There are so many things that can get in the way of us actually finishing our manuscript. Suzannah Windsor Freeman shares 3 steps to overcoming “almost done” syndrome, where you find anything to do except write those last couple of chapters. Kristin Lamb talks about what to do when you hit true burn-out.

But mostly, it’s just the minutia of life that gets in the way of our writing time. How to deal with that? Pauline Rowson shares the novel writing system that works for her. Kristi Holl discusses writing while doing other things—like laundry! Pavarti K. Tyler has tips on how to manage it all, and Sarah Duncan has 11 reasons why writing 10 minutes a day works as a method of reaching your goals.

Lena Roy shares the moment she came to call herself a writer. Angela Ackerman urges all of us to transform our writing weakness into strength in order to find success. And Chuck Wendig gets to the heart of the matter with his 25 reasons that writers are crazy.


Queries are still necessary in traditional publishing. Mary Ann Loesch explores the question: How long should you query a manuscript? Jane Lebak talks about how to query your unlikeable protagonist. Juliana L. Brandt shares her organization method to track agent queries, and Lydia Sharp gives proof that book titles are important at the query stage.

When your killer query nets you that call from an agent, agent Mary Kole shares 10 questions to ask when offered representation. And take a look at the submission guidelines for new agent Dawn Michelle Hardy of Serendipity Literary to see if she’s the right one for you.

The publishing industry changes every day, it seems like. Jenny Bent reflects on how the industry has changed for the good and the bad, while Kristin Lamb talks about the future of big publishing in the new paradigm—will they get it together or crash and burn?

In the world of social media and apps: Jon Reed lists the 10 best Twitter hashtags for writers, Eric Boggs explains 4 core tools in the social publishing toolbox, and Galleycat talks about the Evernote app, which lets you easily digitize your handwritten notes.

Blair Hurley gives tips on how (and why) to always keep something in the publishing pipeline, while Jane Friedman lists 4 reasons NOT to blog your book as a path to publication.


Sometimes it’s nice for writers to see how the greats worked. Check out the first page of Charles Dickens’ GREAT EXPECTATIONS manuscript and count the number of cross outs! Makes me feel better about mine. And take a look at J.K. Rowling’s handwritten spreadsheet for THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX. It doesn’t have to be high-tech to be effective!

If you are in search of Hebrew illuminated manuscripts online, the British Library has digitized many of their manuscripts. From the Walters Art Museum explore the Carrow Psalter.

That’s it for us! See you same time next week!


  1. Thanks so much for including my post :-). I appreciate it!


  2. Thanks for including my post too!


    • You’re welcome, Mary Ann! It’s such a nebulous question. You really have to decide if your faith in your book is truly correct, or if it’s just rose-colored glasses. It takes a bit of honesty to know when continuing to querying is just a waste of time.


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