Posted by: Kerry Gans | August 9, 2012

Top Picks Thursday 08-09-2012

Scott Lynch is raising funds to help fellow writers Emma Bull and Steve Brust with medical expenses.

We somehow managed to neglect Maeve Binchy’s passing last week.

Some quotes on writing from the late Gore Vidal.

See the winners of NPR’s poll for the Top 100 YA books ever.

Sara Robinson brings us a look at what some of the greatest science fiction writers thought 2012 would be like. Some were right. Some were wrong.

Check out the Horror Writers roundtable – a free monthly event for all writers.


John Scalzi gives his reaction to, and a good link to the articles covering, the Readercon sexual harassment scandal.

If you have an ereader, Big Brother is watching you. All this information would be great for authors, so Nathan Bransford hopes authors will have access to reader patterns in relation to their books.

Amanda Fortini comments on the trend of female TV and film writers who are writing deep and complex male characters these days.

Cheryl Klein talks about plots with contrived elements to satisfy the author’s needs, rather than the character’s; and J.C. Carleson, former CIA agent, talks spy novels and voice.

Tim Kane shows how to write killer flashbacks; Sean M. Chandler separates good action from bad action; and Rayne Hall reveals the key to good fight scenes—raising the stakes and making it personal.

Rob Reinalda explains 5 frequently misused punctuation marks; Kathryn Lilley explores the overused words we love way too much; Jade Varden fills us in on when to use that/which and who/whom; and Rachelle Gardner reminds us that the writing rules are only TOOLS, not set in stone.

At opposite ends of the spectrum, C.S. Lakin describes creating not good but great characters, while Liberty Montano lists 60 ways to kill your characters.

Editing is perhaps one of the hardest parts of any writing project. Meredith Lorimar questions the never-ending tweaking compulsion; Emily Wenstrom tells how she learned to edit her first draft with the same ferocity she edits other people; and Gerald Rice gives simple advice: don’t edit yourself.

Because none of us has enough time in a day, Corporate Writing Pro tells us how to gain greater focus; Manon Eileen lists 5 ways to increase productivity; and Tim Kane on why zero pages does not equal failure in writing.

Kristen Lamb brings us the 5 keys to writing success; Veronica Sicoe tells us what every writer must know; Melissa Donovan says that knowing your audience is vital; and Melissa Tagg shares her pitching experiences and the lessons learned from them.

If you are a mom (or dad) writer, these two posts will resonate: Laurel Snyder on motherhood and writing, and Tonya Kappes celebrating the return of school—and her writing time.

Karen Mahoney shares how to become inspired to do the work of writing; Linda Urban finds a unique use for an heirloom teapot; and Chuck Wendig gives us 25 ways to survive as a creative person.


Jami Gold examines the new publishing paradigm in a two-part series: it’s not about ebooks vs. print and what value do publishers add?

Jonathan Gunson says if printed books die, you still can get a publisher—they just won’t look like the publishers of today.

Melanie Marttila gives three pointers to building your writing resume.

Victoria Strauss has good news: literary agent scams are still around, but on the wane.

Looking for a dogged agent? The amazing story of how Joseph Monti got into publishing shows that determination pays off.

Jane Lebak reminds us that sometimes form rejections don’t look like forms – so don’t bet your life on a seemingly personal response.

Marketing scares a lot of authors. J.E. Gurley says the key is selling yourself, not your book.

As to selling your books…Tonya Kappes has tips for when your books aren’t selling, while Toni from the Duolit team shares the slap-you-head-simple secret for selling more books.

Mickie Kennedy analyzes the writing mistakes most often found in press releases; Calvin Reid talks about, a new idea to “fansource” book events; and Kelly Jensen shows us the correct way to pitch to a book review blogger.

On the social media front, Will Richardson describes making peace with blogging fear; Jade Varden has Goodreads tips for self-published authors, although they’re good for all, really; while Rachel Thompson tells us how to tweet without becoming an annoying spammer.

Speaking of annoying spammers, there’s been some talk lately about the “social” aspect of social media being lost in the tsunami of marketing. Kristen Lamb declares that she is taking back her #MyWANA hashtag, and Jody Hedlund also wants to put the social back in social media.


Emily Temple brings us the 10 artifacts from literature we wish were real.

Emily Colette Wilkinson and Garth Risk Hallberg compile the top 10 most difficult books to read.

Here’s the only film footage of Mark Twain in existence (filmed by Thomas Edison, no less!).

Heart-shaped books are not a modern invention. Take a look at this medieval 15th century heart-shaped manuscript.

Need to research the Ottoman empire? Check out this digital archive of Ottoman periodicals.

And if you need the low-down on some really old-time law, peruse this database of over 7,000 manuscripts with juridical literature.

That’s all from us this week!


  1. That’s a great mashup, lots of awesome articles!
    Thank you very much for including my link, I am honored. 🙂


    • Veronica – I think you hit upon something that gets lost with all of our dependence on numbers. Understanding our readership is really the best thing we can do for ourselves and our marketing efforts.


  2. Wow, thanks guys for picking up my article about tweet spam. I’m so honored. xo


    • Rachel – your article seemed timely, as there have been a lot of posts lately about putting the social back into social media. I think a lot of people, especially those new to social media, just are not aware of the proper way to do things. Thanks for the tips.


  3. I’m glad you found some value in my humble offering. Distinguished company!Thank you 🙂


    • Melanie – Glad you like the company! There are so many options open to submitting, it’s good to have precise steps to follow that will help build your resume in the most efficient way.


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