Posted by: Kerry Gans | March 8, 2012

Top Picks Thursday 03-08-2012

Tomorrow join us for a post from J. Thomas Ross about her experience at Stellarcon – with pictures!

Ruth Lauren Steven is hosting an agent-judged query contest for YA/MG.

If you’re interested in middle grade books, check out Novel Novice’s Middle Grade March book lists, reviews, etc.

Help spread the joy of reading to kids who have no books, and often no libraries they can go to. Project Cicero collects gently used books and distributes them to teachers, who either put them in a classroom library or give them to their kids.


Rejection is a large part of the writer’s journey, but James Scott Bell reminds us that a rejection of your manuscript is not a rejection of you as a person or as a writer. Tim Kane delves into the question How do you define yourself as a writer? And just to confuse the issue of “what kind of books do you write?” Susan J. Morris shares how to liven up your writing by crossing genres, thus creating a hybrid of great vigor.

And speaking of genres, here’s a batch of genre-specific posts. My Summer Girl explains why teen fiction is NOT inferior; Novel Novice shares the magic of middle grade; Jay Kristoff defines steampunk; and Jami Gold asks, when does fan fiction cross an ethical line?

So now you know what genre you want to write. But Kevin Hanrahan asks the basic question, How do you write a book? And it’s not enough to want to write a book—you need to have a STORY. Moody Writing explains that a near-miss is not a story—avoiding conflict is a sure way to frustrate your readers. Also, don’t bore readers with monotonous monotone writing, and listen to James V. Smith, Jr.’s advice on ending a novel with a strong closer.

After you’ve written the book – revise! Tim Kane believes that revising equals rewriting in order to get the best results, while Melissa K. Norris shares 7 tips for self-editing your novel.

As writers, we know that words matter. John Soares shows why choosing the right words matters (using a short video), and Chuck Wendig brings 25 things you should know about word choice. Meanwhile, Alex George tackles those really difficult words: choosing the names of your characters.

Grammar is important, too. Michelle Shaeffer presents how to “look good” in writing by avoiding common grammar goofs. Jeff O’Neal explains irony—and how it is often misused.

We would all love to be more productive. Mickie Kennedy lists 5 simple tips for writing better and faster. Georgina Laidlaw spills the productivity secret of professional writers. Sarah Butland suggests learning to love deadlines. Roseann Biederman shares prewriting exercises to launch the writing process, and Duolit gives us 6 outline templates and 3 reasons to use them.

Productivity sometimes grinds to a halt—the dreaded writer’s block. Neil Gaiman says to ignore the voices that say it’s all stupid and keep going. Gabriela Periera delineates the 5 stages of writer’s block, while Jennifer Cruise shares how outlining helped her break through a writer’s funk. Stephanie Burgis shares ways she manages to delay her writing—and the rewards of NOT giving in to those delays. And Kate Arms-Roberts explores how the pursuit of perfection can be the largest block to finishing anything.

The whole endeavor of writing can sometimes seem overwhelming. Julia M. Reffner gives advice on how to re-connect with the FUN in our writing. Johanna Wright teaches us how to surf a creative wave. Suzannah Windsor Freeman tells us to lessen our stress by not comparing our paths to others, while Stephanie Burgis returns to talk about Mom-guilt and how to avoid it.

Justine Musk muses about how to turn the dreaded online platform into an art, and Jody Hedlund asks how we can make ourselves unique and noticed online—and is it all right to sometimes just blend in?


Since it’s tax season, check out these Five Tax Tips Most Writers Miss from WordServe Water Cooler.

As authors, we’re always concerned about maintaining our rights. A new French law allows them to seize digital rights for any book published before a certain year—even if those books are not orphaned. Let’s hope that type of law does not spread elsewhere.

The one thing perhaps more important than rights is censorship. Zachary Knight explains how PayPal was able to force Smashwords to censor completely legal works, and Graham Storrs exposes the credit card companies behind the pressure on PayPal as the real villains of this mess.

To cope with the current Wild West of publishing, Guy LeCharles Gonzalez gives 5 career tips to survive publishing’s digital shift. And the true key to a successful writing career? Failure—according to Kristen Lamb.

Tim Kane explains why authors still need agents in the digital age, while Michael A. Stackpole argues that every author needs to look out for his/her own interests in the area of contracts. Meanwhile, Tim is back with the news that literary agents these days are fine with simultaneous submissions.

Mary Lindsey shares what’s new in query letter trends, and Marie Lamba tells what makes a good or bad query. Two keys to a good query are noting your genre and your audience. Mary Kole explains how to identify genre, while MB Mulhall argues for a clearer age break between middle grade and YA in bookstores and in public perception.

Gabriela Pereira tells how to submit to literary magazines. Suzanne Williams continues a great series on designing book covers.

For those who bemoan having to use social media to connect with your readers, Jeff Potter explains that the core of the author platform is unchanged—only the tools are changing. Jennifer Laughran speaks to the fine art of “zipping it” on social media—or how to use your social media to help your career, not hurt it. And Alexis Grant shares four ways to make your own luck using social media.

It seems like every day there’s a new social media platform that authors “have to” be on. Here’s the skinny on some of the rising platforms. Rachelle Gardner gives us 8 things writers should know about Goodreads. Johanna Harness explains the #amwriting Twitter hashtag and the community that has grown up around it. Writers can use World Literary Café to connect with each other and with their readers. Rachelle returns with 13 things writers should know about Pinterest, but Kirsten Kowalski brings up some issues of possible copyright infringement and some potential problems lurking in Pinterest’s terms of service.

And for bloggers, here are 20 exercises to help you write more in less time from Hot Blog Tips, and Brian A. Klems lists 12 Dos and Don’ts of writing a blog.


Doing research for your historical novel? Check out this broad collection of historical maps online.

For years the Bodleian Library at Oxford and Google have been talking about scanning and making available online the library’s out of prints books, especially from the 19th century—and now they have!

Take a peek at the first illustrated Paradise Lost (1688), with 12 glorious etchings.

Did you know that Charles Dickens filled his study space with fake books? Here’s a list of Dickens’ invented titles.

A 500-year-old book returns to its home in a Dublin library after going missing for 100 years.

That’s all for this week!


  1. Thanks so much for the link! I just opened 10 more tabs to check out. 🙂 Great list!


    • You’re welcome! One of my favorite parts of compiling this list each week is that I get to read all the awesome posts my co-bloggers send me, which I might never have found on my own.


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