Posted by: Kerry Gans | March 29, 2012

Top Picks Thursday 03-29-2012

In blog news, the Author Chronicles will host author Donna Galanti on her blog tour on Tuesday, April 3rd! Check in Monday for a review of her paranormal suspense novel, A HUMAN ELEMENT.

In good news for all fiction readers, Annie Murphy Paul explores the neuroscience of your brain on fiction—and from a writer’s point of view, it really brings home the importance of the words we choose.

If you are a romance writer looking to break into Harlequin, check out the details for Harlequin’s fast track submissions.

A very useful website for parents who have children who read: Reads4Tweens.

Everyone’s a critic. Cory Doctorow brings us rude messages left by monks in the margins of medieval manuscripts.


Every story has a beginning, middle, and end. Faye M. Tollison talks about the essentials for a great beginning, and Jody Hedlund lists 3 ways to find the perfect opening for your story. Adventures in Childrens’ Publishing explores the narrative, transitions, and maintaining forward momentum in your story. And James V. Smith, Jr., covers the dos and don’ts of novel endings.

There’s architecture in every story. Brian A. Klems gives 5 key tips on how to write a manuscript, and P.J. Reece tells us how to create a story structure to die for. Paul Hardy reminds us that even fantasy worlds need rules, and stresses the importance of the real world in world building. Jody Hedlund gives 7 dialog basics that can help tighten the story.

Creating characters can be overwhelming. Jacob Duchaine lists a 4-step quick character development technique, while Charlie Jane Anders has 10 secrets to creating unforgettable supporting cast. Once you’ve got your characters, someone has to do the talking, and James Scott Bell warns us against becoming first person boring.

For those of us who struggle with adding humor to our manuscripts, Jeff Goins explains humor writing for people who aren’t funny, while Emily Drevets tells how to be funny with well-chosen words.

Darcy Pattison explores how to search for a scene. If the scene you are searching for happens to be a battle, then Diana Peterfreund has tips for writing battle scenes.

Eliza Knight explains how to make your words come alive on paper, while James Scott Bell tells us to listen to the book in order to know how to tell the story, and Katie McGarry advises further listening to critiquers, agents, and editors prior to deciding which revisions are best for your book.

Writer’s groups can be a support and an inspiration, if you find the right one for you. Meghan Ward lists 8 secrets of a successful writers group. Tim Kane finds inspiration from words he squirrels away like nuts, and S.J. Whipp explores where good ideas come from. Elspeth Antonelli has some words (and pictures!) of encouragement in her post “From little seeds.”

Smart Writer Blog reminds us of all those New Years goals we set, and says that this is a good time for assessing how far we’ve come and finding some creative renewal. If one of your goals was more time to write, Jessica Strawser explains how to find, rather than make, time for writing. Bob Mayer talks about the other writer’s enemy: feeling like a fraud. And since the writing business is fraught with rejection and criticism, Jami Gold asks: how do you handle disappointments?

Patrick Ross wonders if creative genius is inherent or learned, while Kristi Holl explores how to grow your talent. Genius or not, we can all follow George Orwell’s 6 rules for writers, and Julie Larbalestier says, “I’ll know I’ve made it as a writer when…

Donna Galanti writes about her experiences writing in a different genre. Art Holcomb talks about learning to write in someone else’s world. Edittorrent wonders if there’s a good style guide for fiction (be sure to check out the comments, too), and Scholastic Book Clubs introduce us to 10 awesome female characters by female authors.

Most writers are avid readers. Susan Bearman shares how to read your way to better writing. Sanjida O’Connell ponders: what is a literary novel?, and Rachel Manwill brings us YA for literary snobs.


Hooray! The Harry Potter ebooks are finally for sale! And in non-Potter news, Hachette aquires worldwide right to the Enid Blyton estate (excluding Noddy).

Kat Howard gives a rundown of last weekend’s International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts, while Brian A. Klems lists 10 foolproof tips to launching a regional writing conference of your own.

Clare Langley-Hawthorne tries to pin down what a realistic agent timeline is these days, while Linda Jackson tells us how to almost guarantee a rejection. Agent Rachelle Gardner shares how to make a living as a writer, and the challenges of writing as a career.

Forbes has a Media Map: Who reads what and where special report. Jill Corcoran asks: what makes a book sell? Marie Lamba has details on how to run a blog tour, and Christina Katz lists 21 tips on writing, publishing, and marketing nonfiction ebooks like a sane person. Meanwhile, Kirsten Hubbard explores the phenomenon of cover models who look like celebrities.

John Green explains why libraries are different from piracy, and Ezra Barany tells independent authors how to get your book in libraries.

Since so many of us use Facebook, it might be helpful to know that Facebook is amending its privacy policies again.

Danyelle Leafty explains the intersection of authors and social networking, while Kristen Lamb helps us understand author platform in a way that won’t make our heads explode.

Suzan St. Maur delves into writing for Pinterest; Jessica from Bookends Literary explains making Twitter personal; and Tracy Ruckman talks about the benefits of StumbleUpon for writers.

Jill Corcoran wonders about the usefulness of start-up publishers with no professional editors. Janni Lee Simner explains why right now is NOT the worst time to publish. Susan Spann, publishing attorney, talks about publishing choices; and, just to see how much publishing has (or has not) changed in a century, Dracula’s contract sees the light of day 100 years on.


This sounds like a heck of a lot of fun! For those who love mysteries, treasure hunts and medieval manuscripts, follow on Twitter Erik Kwakkel, Paleographer of the University of Leiden. Using the hashtag #rolduc2012 he and his students hunt through monastaries, libraries, etc. for manuscript fragments. Follow him: @erik_kwakkel An example.

Top 10 Most Misunderstood Lines in Literary History.

Peek into 15 writers’ bedrooms.

The Houghton Library blog lists recently digitized works – manuscripts of authors and more.

That’s us for this week! Don’t forget to join us Tuesday for the blog tour stop of Donna Galanti’s A HUMAN ELEMENT!


  1. Thanks for the mention! And also appreciate the Reads site for Tweens – that is timely for me. I was also looking for more information on Pinterest too – so thanks!


    • You’re welcome! I think I might hit up that Reads4Tweens site, too, just to have a handy reference for books I should read, since I’m in middle grade and YA writing.


  2. I came here to thank you for singling out Susan Spann’s blog on Writers in the Storm – but this comment is posting over an hour later than that, because I had to go read about 20 other great blogs!

    This is an amazing comprehensive list – thanks so much!


    • Thanks, Laura! I think Susan’s posts are going to be very valuable and interesting – we’ll certainly be keeping an eye out for them.


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