Posted by: Kerry Gans | September 13, 2012

Top Picks Thursday 09-13-2012

Check out Tiffany Schmidt’s trailer for SEND ME A SIGN!

With all the hoopla about bought reviews, Joe Ponepinto shares the true art of writing a book review.

Sad but true: bankrupt San Bernardino closes libraries to close its deficit.

Want to know how to help out your favorite author—or what to tell your fans to do to help you? C. Hope Clark gives tips on what you can do on Amazon to boost your favorite authors’ books.

Tim Peacock reminds us that NaNoWriMo is only about 50 days away – are you ready?

With so many authors publishing playlists for their books these days, it’s no surprise to see that this entwining of music and narrative has been a long time in the making. Here is a look back to the 13th century, when lyrics and narrative interactions first became popular.


We all have an idea behind our novel. Martina Boone demystifies concept, high concept, and how to get there.

We all have been told to kill our darlings, but we are rarely told why. Kristen Lamb explains why killing your darlings is a must to improve your writing.

Maria Lamba tells us how to find originality in our manuscript even among the “sameness” one finds in many genres.

Everyone wants to write that killer first line. But what about the last line? Meredith Borders lists the 10 best closing lines of novels.

Write it clean and write it right: 5 grammar and style lessons from The New York Times.

Show, don’t tell! Joe Bunting gives examples of how to show (not tell) paranoia, hope, and other moods, while Nicole Steinhaus tells how to show emotion without relying heavily on body parts.

People were talking this week about character topics not often addressed. Mary Kole talks about using impartial observers as narrators; Jami Gold wonders if your characters are based on real people; and S.J. Higbee discusses gender in writing—is your narrator a male or female?

Editing is something that many writers approach with dread. Glinner takes an aggressive line with writers who are unwilling to change a word they write: Writing is rewriting—be prepared to change things. Maria Lamba reminds writers that before they sign you, an agent is NOT your writing coach, so don’t expect feedback from agents you submit to. C.S. Lakin defines what a critique is, how it differs from criticism, and why all writers need at least one professional one. And Nathan Bransford warns that you might suffer from one of these funny yet spot-on writing maladies.

There are all sorts of “rules” of writing. Chuck Wendig shares his current 25 rules of writing and storytelling. Genres confer rules, but Chuck sees the imminent death of genre and a post-genre future.

Penny C. Sansevieri lists 7 signs you’re not ready to publish; James Scott Bell talks healthy and unhealthy writer ego; and Janet Reid advises us not to stress over things we have no control over.

Geoffrey Gray explains why writers need exercise, while Huffington Post brings us famous writers’ weird rituals before they even start to work.

We all have excuses for not writing. K.M. Weiland lists 10 excuses for not writing and how to smash them. One big stumbling block for a lot of us is finding alone time to write. August McLaughlin gives us 10 tips for carving out alone time. And Iris Shoor explains why creativity blocks happen, and how to overcome them.

Chuck Wendig’s been thinking a lot lately. He reminds us that when writers behave badly they may damage themselves, but ultimately the readers are the ones who take the hardest hit. And speaking of behaving badly, he has some thoughts about creepy little creepers who creepily creep at conventions.

From J.K. Rowling’s TED talk: the fringe benefits of failure. And just to show that success is still possible, Jessica Taylor talks about when she got THE CALL.


David Vinjamuri of Forbes examines why the paid review scandal is worse than it looks.

Andrew Albanese updates us as publishers appeal the ruling in the GSU e-reserves copyright infringement case.

Thinking of going with a small press but are a little wary? Small press Musa Publishing lists tips for success with small publishers—and how to find reputable ones.

Memoirs have surged in popularity—Shirley Showalter explores why the memoir surge happened, and what it means.

Queries and agents and hook lines, oh my!

When querying, how do you sell yourself when you don’t have a publishing track record? Rachelle Gardner explains how to pitch your potential. Jennifer Laughran explains how to genre categorize your book in a query—it’s not as painful as it can seem. QueryShark reminds us to try to capture the tone of the book in the query—she won’t believe it’s a funny, quirky book if your letter is lifeless. And to tie it all together, Michelle Krys critiques a query letter for us.

Catherine Linka says every book needs a hook and how to craft one, while Michael Ehert shows how to pitch to win. Bridget Smith of Dunham Literary explains how the first line and the first five pages factors into the decision-making process. Mandy Hubbard tells us how to become a literary agent, even if you don’t live in NYC.

Things you say on social media are there forever—but even things you say in private can stick with a person far longer than you’d like. Stina Lindenblatt reminds us to beware what we say—and lists 3 syndromes that can make you say things you regret later.

We’re all looking for marketing methods that are memorable but low-cost, right? Check out the tasteful giveaways in For the Love of Gingerbread & Zombies for some ideas.


Rare things are being uncovered left and right! A new photo of the elusive Emily Dickinson has surfaced, and Lord Byron’s copy of FRANKENSTEIN has been found.

Researchers! Secret Vatican archives are to be opened—including the release of letters about Henry VIII’s divorce request.

And in flight of fancy photos, take a peek at a c1390 model book for alphabets; World Literacy Day cupcakes; and Bookfaces!

That’s it for us this week!


  1. *looks at clock* Hmm, I wonder how many of these posts I can get through before I need to stop and eat. LOL! Great collection of links!

    Thanks for the link to my blog! 🙂


    • You’re rocking the blogs, as usual. I was really interested in the small press one, because that is an area I know very little about. And you can always read WHILE you eat. Unless you’re like me and apt to spill something all over the keyboard.


      • Yep. I’m a klutz. I have water near my keyboard (which fritzed it out a while back), but I try not to have too much else. LOL!


  2. Great compilation! Thanks so much for including my link. Cheers. 🙂


    • Thanks! We love finding these gems and sharing them with others.


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