Posted by: Kerry Gans | August 2, 2012

Top Picks Thursday 08-02-2012

Happy August!

The writing world lost a giant this week, as Gore Vidal passed away at age 86. Here are some of Gore Vidal’s best quotes.

In tech news, Meograph launches a 4-D storytelling platform, and Ariel Cummins runs down some great books apps for bibliophiles.

Jane Friedman lists the best Literary websites and blogs, while Arthur Plotnik answers all your questions on How Long Should My (insert writing project here) Be?


Structure is the backbone of your story. Kris Noel gives a refresher on the three-act structure. And if you’re writing in fantasy, Leah Cypess lists 7 tips for crafting a believable fantasy.

When you start writing, you must consider when in your story to start and what sort of opening to use. Kristen Nelson shares three reasons prologues don’t work, and Janice Hardy examines different types of openings and when they work best.

Meg Gardiner shows 5 ways to kill suspense, while Nathan Kash shares how to use visualization to write a killer hook.

Brian A. Klems reminds us that the rule is NOT “a” before consonants and “an” before vowels. C.S. Lakin provides a handy hyphenation chart to help those of us who are hyphen impaired.

This is about songwriting, but it can apply to lyrical writing as well. Bobby Gilles asks: Should songwriters count syllables or just listen for accents?

Dialogue can make or break a scene or book. Justine Larbalestier gives some dialogue tips, and Tim Kane illustrates bad dialogue in the “as you know Bob” vein.

When it comes to revision, you have to look at the big picture as well as the individual words. Kathy Steffen gives us 10 steps to fill plot holes, while Janice Hardy shines a light on overused words in manuscripts—particularly “look” and all its variants.

Colson Whitehead gives advice on how to write. Chuck Wendig on why writers need rejection in their lives. Ava Jae dislikes the term “aspiring writer,” while Marcia Yudkin praises ripening your skill as a writer before publishing.

Justine Larbalestier takes on “the dumbest argument ever”: that YA novelists are in it just for the money; Ava Jae asks if we really want overnight success; and Katie Ganshert reminds us of the wisdom of letting go of the things we cannot control.

Shannon Hale explores how we shame boys away from “girl” books; Lev Grossman meditates on hating a book he was supposed to love; and Mandy Hubbard takes on the perennial topic of what content is too edgy for teens. Her answer: Not much.

Brian Feinblum gives 16 tips on how to survive and thrive as a writer; Beth Barany lists 7 ways to get out of your own way in creative writing; and Jamie Todd Rubin advises how to get out of your head.

Lisa Cron uses brain science to uncover why we are wired for story; Gareth L. Powell asks other writers: How do you cope with THE FEAR?; and the text of Stephanie Laurens’ keynote speech at RWA talks about weathering the transition in publishing, and why authors should keep the faith.


With an eye-opening analysis, Smashwords’ Mark Coker says that traditional publishing could result in less money for an author and possibly harm their career.

In a convergence of old and new guard, Anna Heim reports that self-publishing platform Fastpencil has a partnership with Barnes and Noble to get their books on the shelves of the brick-and-mortar giant.

Michael Shatzkin’s sharp analysis of how the DOJ settlement will change the ebook market.

An agent can help you navigate the changes ahead in publishing, so Rachelle Gardner tells us how to avoid basic query letter blunders.

Nicola Furlong reminds us that marketing starts with your query, and she provides further marketing tips for after the query goes out.

Marketing often means live readings. Roz Morris explains how to choose a novel excerpt to read to an audience.

Marketing also often means guest blogs. Tonya Kappes offers tips to make your guest post shine.

The adage aside, people do judge books by their covers. Mila Ballentine says covers do matter, and shares how to find one that fits your book.

As well as being fun, writing conferences are also marketing hot spots. Susan Hawk outlines the 7 habits of highly effective conference-goers.

Open Forum shares 5 low-cost media marketing strategies for authors.

After Roni Loren shared that she had been sued for accidentally using a copyrighted picture on her blog, authors create a photo-sharing site of their own, which you can link to directly here.


A fun look at the linguistic and mythological origins of the Friday the 13th phobia by Sherry Isaac.

For those of us who ever passed notes in school (not me, nuh-uh, no way), Robinson Meyer brings us a case of a 17th century “paper social network”—Twitter in the 1670s.

Finally, Gallica announces that the original 16th century Codex Azcatitlan (Histoire Mexicaine) is now online.

That’s all for us this week!


  1. Thanks for mentioning my article on 7 ways to get out of your own way in creative writing:

    Love all the resources you share here!


    • You’re welcome, Beth! You’ve got some great advice for us creatives.


  2. Thanks so much for including my blog post!


    • You’re welcome! Keep the great advice coming!


  3. Thanks so much for the shout out! I’ll be back!


    • You’re welcome! Keep the good advice coming!


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