Posted by: Kerry Gans | April 19, 2012

Top Picks Thursday 04-19-2012

Friend of the blog Donna Galanti has her official book launch April 21st at the Doylestown Bookstore. If you’re in the area, come and support the launch of A HUMAN ELEMENT, from 3-5:30 PM. We reviewed the book, and Donna stopped by on her blog tour with a guest post on telekinesis.

The ALA announces the Teens Top Ten Nominations.

Let’s hope the ALA doesn’t have the same issues as the Pulitzer Prize board, which did not award a fiction prize for the first time since 1977.

Since censorship is always a topic for writers to be concerned about, here are the Top 10 Books challenged in 2011.

Kids are the readers of the future, the ALA has a breakdown of the report from Accelerated Reader company Renaissance Learning entitled “What Kids Are Reading: The Book-Reading Habits of Students in American Schools.”; while Sara Ralph writes on how to raise a member of the Nerdy Book Club.

Writers love words, so Stan Carey bring us information about three language blogs: Ozwords, Lexico Loco, and A World of Englishes.

Attention all science fiction, fantasy, or horror writers! Strange Chemistry’s open door period, where they accept unagented completed YA manuscripts, has begun. Act quickly, the open door is only for two weeks.


C.N. James visits an age-old debate in defending the sci-fi genre, while Chuck Wendig discusses the future with 25 things you should know about transmedia storytelling.

Description can make or break a story. Janice Hardy lists 5 ways to bring your descriptions to life, and Jody Hedlund gives 7 setting basics to strengthen your story.

Lynette Labelle gives tips to avoid dialogue disasters; Michelle Diener talks about balancing the action/tension/emotion ratio in your novel; and Chuck Wendig investigates the meaning of show, don’t tell.

We all know how crucial the opening pages are to any book. Ready Write Go explores the opening pages of your novel, and Joe Bunting explains how to start your novel.

Beginnings often come easy, but the middle gets us stuck. Janice Hardy gives tips on what to do when you hit a wall in your story; and Janalyn Voigt gives 7 steps to writing a story in scenes.

Characters carry your story. Roni Loren explains how to create sympathetic characters, while Chuck Wendig lists 25 reasons he hates your main character. Hallie Ephron details how to write effective supporting characters, and Valerie Comer gives 10 questions for authors to ask their characters.

Getting feedback is a vital part of improving your craft. Ava Jae explains why tough critiques excite her, and Adventures in YA & Children’s Publishing discusses the Art of taking criticism.

Productivity and creativity are keys to writing success. Kristin Lamb suggests identifying and strengthening your weaknesses in order to be more productive; Jami Gold asks what stories “won’t” you write, which helps define your brand and style; Kevin Hanrahan explains what NOT to do when you’re writing a novel; and John Cleese lists 5 factors to make your life more creative.

Tim Kane describes how to make writing your number one priority, while Julie Butcher Fedynich lays out a 10 step program for more writing time.

Persistence is necessary for success in the publishing industry. Gina Conroy vows to persist until she succeeds; Jody Hedlund explains how to cling to hope when insecurities taunt us; Jill Kemerer urges us to always dream; but Julie A. Lindsey advises not to quit your day job prematurely.


Of course, the big news is still the Department of Justice (DOJ) lawsuit against Apple and Hachette Book Group, Simon & Schuster, Penguin Group, HarperCollins and Macmillan. Writer Beware gives an overview of the lawsuit and settlement, while Maureen Johnson makes it simple for those confused by the whole thing. Apple’s reaction to the lawsuit was equally simple—just four sentences. Jason Boog at GalleyCat wonders if settling or fighting is the best strategy, while John Scalzi decries those consumers who over-simplify the debate into an “us vs. them” dilemma.

Agent Jane Dystel asks, “Is the DOJ’s suit good for authors?”, while Nathan Bransford ponders on what the book world will look like after the DOJ lawsuit. Charlie Stross talks about Amazon’s role in all of this, and the future of DRM on ebooks, while the New York Times wonders what happens if every major publisher pulls their books from Amazon.

The whole crux of this tangle is ebook pricing. Nathan Bransford details why ebooks costs so much; Keith DeCandido explains why they SHOULD cost so much; and Melissa Foster reveals that indie authors are debating if ebooks are too cheap at 99 cents.

Jane Friedman lists books, blogs, and posts to help envision the future of reading, and Chuck Wendig prepares for the publishing doomsday everyone keeps predicting.

Agents have been posting a great deal of good advice on many topics this week. Michael Bourret and Molly O’Neill wrap up their 3-part series “Everything you wanted to know about Middle Grade.” Agent Joe Monti on what diversity in YA means to him. Michelle Krys continues her YA/MG literary agent series with an interview of agent Hannah Bowman of Liza Dawson Associates Literary Agency and Kerry Sparks of Levine Greenberg. Michelle Wolfson advises how to bounce back from a bad first book, and Rachelle Gardner explains how to identify your novel’s genre.

Jane Friedman gives a primer on writing and publishing terminology; Writer’s Relief lists 10 ways to boost your odds of an acceptance; and Marcy Kennedy lets us in on 4 secrets about writer’s conference faculty.

Once your book is out, it’s all about the marketing—and in this age that means social media. Jan Bear describes 6 ways that novelists can use target marketing; Tonya Kappes advises on how to fall in love with your blog all over again; J.A. Bennett warns that big blog stats don’t always mean that you are connecting with the right people; and audio book powerhouse Audible rewards authors (with money!) for using social media to promote.


Brent Cox explores the lives of 8 women writers from different times as they tried to make it in New York City—and what it cost them monetarily and otherwise.

Charts and lists can be fun! Brenna Clarke Gray wonders what would (insert YA heroine’s name here) do? in certain mundane “real life” situations (with flow charts), and has amassed charts of fictional characters’ birthdays. What fictional character do you share a birthday with?

The National Library of Ireland is publishing a major collection of James Joyce manuscripts on the web for free—but this is not without its controversy.

Meanwhile, the oldest book in Europe, the seventh century St. Cuthbert Gospel (so called because it was found in the Saint’s coffin in 1104), has been acquired by the British Library.

A young fan sends Roald Dahl an unusual gift—and his lovely response is reprinted in this post “Thank you for the dream you sent me.

That’s the Top Picks for this week!


  1. Thanks for the link! And what a fantastic round up. 🙂


  2. Very informative and needed for all those in publishing field…thanks for sharing this info:)


  3. Thanks! This was a good week for links–our group seems to have scoured every nook and cranny on the internet! Does that mean we all have too much time on our hands? 🙂


  4. Thanks so much for the link to Writers In The Storm. This post is dynamite, and chock-full of info! 🙂


    • Thanks! We always check out Writers In The Storm – you’ve got good stuff there!


  5. Great compilations of posts here! I’m honored to be among them!


    • Thanks, Gina! We hear all the time that persistence is possibly the most important characteristic for a successful author.


  6. You’ve got quite a thorough news report there. Thanks!


    • There’s so many opinions on what’s going on with the lawsuit, and what the results will be, it’s hard to keep up with it all.


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