Posted by: Kerry Gans | July 12, 2012

Top Picks Thursday 07-12-2012

Author Sabrina Ogden needs jaw surgery her insurance won’t cover, so her writer friends put together an anthology to raise money for her surgery. Check it out!

Writers love libraries and independent bookstores! Take a look at an abandoned Walmart turned into a public library; read Christie Gibrich’s post on GLBTQ literature for YA; and Huffington Post is celebrating Independent Booksellers in conjunction with the UK’s Independent Booksellers’ Week (you can add your own favorite indie store to their list).

Speaking of indies, IndieBound has posted their Summer ’12 Kids’ Next List.

If middle grade is your genre, stop by Middle Grade Mania, a new blog aimed at middle grade bloggers, readers, and writers.

Graeme Paton brings us a UK study indicating that young boys are “turned off books” by a lack of male teachers and other male reader role models.

If you’re going to LeakyCon this year, check out the Figment Writing Lounge (and the contest they’re sponsoring).


In most genres, we are told to move the pace faster and faster, stripping away every unnecessary word. Nathan Bransford asks if we are stripping the modern books bare by focusing exclusively on plot, while Jami Gold says that writing less leaves more room for imagination by the reader. But Rachelle Gardner wonders if modern readers really want to meet us halfway, or if that’s asking them to work too hard?

Openings and endings are critical. C.S. Lakin explores the crucial question you must ask in your opening scene, while Karen Schravemade explains how to create emotional resonance in the final scenes of your work.

Love it or hate it, grammar rules the world of words. J. Lea Lopez demystifies “peek, peak, and pique”; Melissa Maygrove compares and contrasts “may vs. can”; Rayne Hall tackles the ubiquitous “turn” and “look”; and Laura Hale Brockway lists 17 verbs that cut fat from your novel.

When starting a project, Kara Kenyon recommends 5 tools for continuity sanity; Kara Lennox asks: Is your conflict strong enough?; and if you are a habitual 1st person writer, Ginny Wiehardt shares how to start writing in 3rd person.

K.A. Holt explores an unconscious gender bias in her writing; Jason Black talks about the function of a denouement and how misusing it can kill your story; and Melissa Donovan reminds us all that writing is rewriting.

Some characters stay with us throughout our lives. Susan Russo Anderson asks: What characters hold you captive? Not one-dimensional characters, for sure. Ava Jae shows how to spot a Mary Sue in your writing, while Tim Kane talks about layering your characters with each appearance and linking your protagonist and antagonist in some way. Darcy Pattison wants you to finish this sentence: My character is like (fill in the blank), as a way to know your characters better.

We found some great writing exercises and checklists this week!

Jennifer Blanchard urges creating flow using the 10 minutes of gibberish method; Jennifer Stevens shares an exercise for writing groups on finding your voice; the Script Lab has a scene questionnaire that can be applied to prose fiction as well; C.S. Lakin has an incredible checklist for critiquing a novel; and David Farland details how to turn your novel into a screenplay.

K.M. Weiland ponders talent vs. learning: do you have to be born a writer? To add to the discussion, Martina Boone lists the common characteristics of natural born, freelance or career writers.

Advice to new writers is never lacking in the writing community (I love that so many take the time to share what they’ve learned!). Sarah Manguso advises young writers on how to have a career in writing; K.M. Ruiz shares 7 things she’s learned so far in her writing career; Chuck Palahniuk lists 13 writing tips; and Stina Lindeblatt passes on writerly quotes on Emotion.

Jody Hedlund reminds us that there is no elevator to success—you have to take the stairs, while James Scott Bell spells out 7 things writers need to do right now to be successful. Meanwhile Chuck Wendig shares how a couple of writers destroyed their careers, and 25 other bad writer behaviors.

To have a writing career that spans more than one book, we need find and hold on to inspiration. Brian Yansky shares his quest for Maughm’s “three secrets,” while Jodi Meadows tells us how to stay inspired. Christopher Jackson says to learn about creativity from all artists, not just writers, and Marie Borthwick explains that the best inspiration is in the people all around us.

Hopefully, someday, all of your hard work will pay off in a small moment that means everything, like it did for Nova Ren Suma.


Baffled by the slow pace of publishing? Cassandra Clare explains why it takes so long for a book to get published.

Tonya Kappes celebrates the new gatekeepers in publishing: the readers.

For those facing traditional gatekeepers, the need for agents, pitches, and queries still exists. Merry Jones tells how to pitch at a conference, while new Dystel & Goderich agent Brenna Barr wants to hear from you.

Jennifer Langhran rants about bad queries; Jenny Bent explains it’s not who you know but what you write that makes a successful query; and Janet Reid shares the one essential thing your query MUST have.

Meanwhile, Query Shark displays a good query that took 3 revisions to get right, plus a warning that long sentences are death in a query for a middle grade novel.

Denise Miller Holmes discusses the power of the verbal business card. (You didn’t know such a thing existed? Me, neither!)

For when you need to let your author website do your talking, Danyelle Leafty describes what your author website needs to accomplish for your during the various stages of your career, and Patrick Samphire is blogging the process of designing an author website from scratch.

Karen Springen says that book trailers—seeing them and making them—are a terrific way to hook kids on books.

Margaret Atwood discusses why she supports Wattpad online and why the internet is good for writers.

And here are some tips, tricks, and information on your favorite softwares and social media sites:  Anne Chaconas talks about the changes to FaceBook’s Fan Pages, and how you can still use them to your advantage; a Scrivener for Dummies cheat sheet teaser; tricks to using Goodreads from Tonya Kappes; and Talli Roland shares some Twitter tips and tricks.


Jennifer Lewis brings us 10 fictional alphabets you can actually use. 

Debbie Ridpath Ohi’s comic “What Not To Say To A Children’s Book Writer On A First Date.”

View some absolutely fascinating illustrations from a Soviet era edition of THE HOBBIT.

Sam McNerney tackles the evolutionary origins of storytelling.

Check out 16 fictional character’s Myers-Briggs personality types.

Writing historical fiction? Use the right historical map—and look at the Fashion Institute of Technology’s website for clothing ideas (even if your “historical” is set in the 1990s!)

For our poetry writers: check out Poets Ranked by Beard Weights.

Can’t get to the UK? Bodleian’s medieval manuscripts are coming to New York! If you can’t wait to see it, here’s a preview of the Bodleian’s Crossing Borders NY exhibit.

That’s it for us!

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