Posted by: Kerry Gans | June 7, 2012

Top Picks Thursday 06-07-2012

Our Anniversary Giveaway is in full swing—still 4 weeks of great prizes. Congrats to Donna Galanti, who won a swag bundle for SEND ME A SIGN, the debut novel of Tiffany Schmidt.

For any artists suffering financial need, there may be help out there. Caitlin Kelly gives an overview of artist rescue funds.

BEA has kicked off in New York. Kirkus Reviews shares the 10 most coveted speculative fiction titles at BEA.

For you audio bibliophiles, June is audiobook month!

If you always wanted to take the Clarion science fiction and fantasy writing workshop but couldn’t, check out the Clarion Write-a-Thon: the home-game edition of the Clarion writing workshop.

In sad news, iconic Fahrenheit 451 author Ray Bradbury died June 5 at age 91.


There’s so much that goes into making a successful novel—but James Scott Bell shares 7 things that will doom your novel & how to avoid them. As a refresher course in a very successful writing technique, Scripteach gives us a diagram of the 3-act structure.

In writing-as-metaphor posts, Elizabeth Craig draws some interesting parallels in her detective techniques used in the fiction writing process, and Tim Kane makes your mouth water (and arteries harden) with his cooking up a terrific narrative.

Chuck Wendig guides us through the difficult middle of our narrative with 25 Ways To Fight Your Story’s Mushy Muddle, while Melinda S. Collins talks about when you need to kill a scene (which may help your mushy middle).

And writers should read, read, read. Mary Vee explores what you can learn about pacing from reading well-written books, and Danya Lorentz adds her own 4 reasons for making time to read.

Sometimes, it’s the details that make or break a novel. Constance Hale discusses different kinds of sentence structures and how you can use them to shade your meaning. Charlie Jane Anders explores the difference between capturing an emotion and creating a mood. C. Hope Clark explains why you should break grammar rules on purpose, while Erin McKean extols the virtues of using undictionaried words.

Dialogue is wonderful, but sometimes you can have too much of a good thing. If your dialogue isn’t snapping the way you’d like, Kathryn Craft suggests gagging your characters to free your dialogue. And since sometimes pesky dialogue punctuation gives us headaches, Gabriela Pereira demystifies dialogue punctuation.

Character is the soul of most books, so they’d better hold a reader’s interest. Tim Kane suggests nailing down your character’s alignment to deepen your writing, while K.M. Weiland talks about creating the two-conflict needs of every character. Michael A. Ventrella discusses effective point of view, and Sharla Rae explains the heartbeat of every story is character motivation.

So much to do, so little time! Rachel Aaron explains how she went from 2,000 words a day to 10,000 words a day – in the same amount of writing time. Charlotte Rains Dixon explores Aaron’s method further, focusing on knowing what you’re going to write before you write. Meanwhile, Tim Kane shows how to sneak around writer’s block and get those words on the page, and Ruth Lauren Steven discusses why having more than one critique partner can improve your writing.

Make sure your creativity keeps up with your new-found productivity. Clay Shirky redefines creativity by boiling down the 6 rules of creativity to just one—there are no rules. Just to prove that point, Kristi Holl explains why being original might not be the most conducive path to creativity. Justine Musk believes that getting in touch with your Shadow self can make you more creative. And if you lack energy, check out Carrie Brummer’s list of websites for creative inspiration.

There is never a shortage of authors sharing advice, inspiration, and writing philosophy—a wonderful trait of the writing community. Marina Delvecchio shares and expands on Elizabeth Gilbert’s advice on writing; Olivia Newport advises, among other things, to keep a level head about steady hard work—no matter what your degree of success; and Beth Revis has some of the best advice ever about how to respond to bad reviews.

Inspirationally, Jessica Corra shares a turning point in her life, where she chose “yes”; Emily Wing Smith, hit by a car at age 12, chats about writing with physical challenges, and how to deal with the associated discouragement; and Susan Cain extols the power of introverts (good news for many of us writers!).

In writing philosophy, Sarah Baughman tells us how to write your truth, even in public; Jo VonBargen examines why we write, and why we often focus on the darkness in life; and Chuck Wendig spills the secret to writing.


In case you forgot about the ongoing Google Books lawsuit, the Authors Guild scored when the judge decided to accept the Authors Guild as a class for a class action suit, thus forestalling the need for thousands of individual authors and other copyright holders from suing Google individually.

As for the other book behemoth, Amazon buys Avalon Books. Which is either good or bad depending on how you feel about Amazon.

In traditional publishing, Kristen Nelson finds a surprising new genre that editors are seeing a lot of—but that you don’t want to write into.

In self-publishing, David Carnoy writes an excellent article on how to self-publish an ebook, while Susan Kaye Quinn lists 4 ways to think long-term in indie publishing.

While self-publishing has opened many doors for many writers, Peter Turner talks about the dangers and opportunities of content abundance. In another post we recently highlighted here but speaks directly to Turner’s post, Roz Morris asks: Where will self-publishing get quality control? While Roni Loren gives some tips for readers trying to cull their way through the slush pile of self-pubbed books.

And in a little-talked-about arm of publishing, C.S. Lakin addresses print-on-demand—the future is now.

But if you want to pursue traditional publishing, you need to query and pitch. Kristi Cook runs down how to write a killer query for your YA manuscript. Brian A. Klems shines light on a different type of query letter—one for freelance assignments. Jami Gold revisits her Ultimate Guide to Pitch Writing—and points out the value of writing a pitch even if you never have to query. Finally, this amusing video shows what NOT to do when pitching an agent.

Once the agent wants to read more of your manuscript, Nephele Tempest explains how to keep an agent reading. And, of course, the agent will love your writing, so Casey McCormick lists what to ask a literary agent when offered representation.

If you are agent hunting, check out Rachel Ekstrom of the Irene Goodman Literary Agency, who is seeking Women’s, YA, Thriller/Mystery, Romance, and Historical.

Yay, your book is accepted for publication! Now you’ve got to market. Publishing a Book is an Adventure follows up a popular book promotion post with this one: 20 additional book promoting sites. And if you go the email marketing route, please pay attention to Corey Eridon’s 16 things people hate about your email marketing—and don’t do them.

A large part of your marketing strategy is likely a blog of some kind. Nina Amir answers the question: How long does it take to get blog readers?, while Edie Melson explains how fast your blog should grow. And no matter what you are doing online to raise awareness of you and your book, Carolyn Kaufman reminds us always protect our professional reputation online.

In writing-world advice, Porter Anderson talks BEA, publishers, and writer’s workshops, while Lisa McKay explores amazturbation and other perils of publishing.


I didn’t believe the title of this article: Terrifying French Children’s Books. I mean, how scary can kids’ books be? Jenny Colgan enlightened me and made me wonder what in the world these publishers were thinking!

And speaking of terrifying, Tim Kane’s got a Do-It-Yourself-Zombie-Kit.

That’s it! Stay tuned for our coverage of the Philadelphia Writers’ Conference this weekend!


  1. Thanks for the writing links!

    Time to chew down onto some of them.


  2. Thanks for featuring my post!


  3. Thanks so much Kerri – for the Writers in the Storm listing – but also for this comprehensive, wonderful list! I think I graze the internet for good writing content, but I missed a bunch of these! Keep up the great work!


  4. Thanks for the link! I hope people find it helpful.

    I’ll have to check out some of these other articles I missed when I get to a better internet connection today. 🙂 Thanks for the goodies.


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