Posted by: Kerry Gans | September 20, 2012

Top Picks Thursday 9-20-2012

“Public libraries rule!” — Judd Apatow

Libraries do rule, but Haipeng Li and Janice M. Rice ask: Why aren’t there more librarians of color?

Much like libraries, second-hand bookstores are often beloved. In heartbreaking news, Egyptian security forces destroy the legendary second-hand book stalls in Alexandria.

In violent news closer to home, on September 13, 2012 agent Pam van Hylckama was attacked by an author she had rejected. Jennifer Laughran warns all of us to mind our Internet safety rules, and links to several other articles about the attack. We are all glad that Ms. van Hylckama is all right.

For those writers who have spouses or partners or anyone else who is a non-writer in their lives, you may want to pass on these 5 tips to surviving the author in your life from Jocelyn Adams.


Harper Voyager is putting out an open call for submissions of SF and Fantasy starting October 1st.

SCBWI touts a new contest for picture book illustrators and short story writers for kids: the Eye Level Children’s Literature Award.

And Chuck Wendig invites us all to Pitch, Promo, Publicize And Pimp For Others Right Here, Right Now. NOW. Leave a comment touting something you loved – just not your own stuff.


Begin at the beginning. Merry Jones shows us how to write a great opening line while Lisa Cron gives us 7 ways to use brain science to hook readers and reel them in. For the story structure itself, Tim Kane says to hang your story on a folklore skeleton. How about the ending? K. M. Weiland wonders if cliffhanger endings are over-rated.

Kristen Lamb shows how to use an external proxy when the true antagonist is the protagonist’s own inner demons; Mary Kole examines using reaction as a tool in your writing; and Joanne Wadsworth explains how to describe a place using “show” rather than “tell.”

Michelle Johnson lists 7 common writing wrongs, while Lisa Cron explains the biggest mistake writers make and how to avoid it.

Revising is one thing, but doing a complete rewrite of your manuscript is another. Apparently a number of authors are thinking about this topic this week. Jane Lebak explains the art of the complete rewrite; Justine Larbalestier talks rewriting; and Laura Jane Cassidy reveal her number one tip for writers: rewrite.

Writing advice abounds. Kami Kinard gives 7 tips on writing; William Gibson talks about everything from antique watches to Twitter; John Yeoman lists a lazy 5-step program to make your stories glow; and Kelly Jensen tells us how to advocate for contemporary YA fiction.

When you get to the realm of being published, there are different challenges. Krissy Brady shows us how to meet your writing deadlines every time; Stefanie Freele talks how to publish 99 short stories in 8 years; and Stephanie Burgis explains Publication Day Panic.

Software can help organize and streamline your work. Jonathan D. Allen describes the benefits of using Dropbox; Justine Larbalestier gives an overview of Scrivener, and a more in-depth look at the features of the program; while Carl Wilkinson examines the dark side of technology by delving into Internet addiction and the creative mind.

One way to stay in shape: the writer’s work-out of doom (and gloom) from Julie Butcher-Fedynich.

Meanwhile, Stephanie Burgis wants to know why so many movies show modern writers using typewriters, and Tim Kane wonders if you recall what you heard or smelled while reading and if reading is as visceral for you as for him.

Jeannine Atkins wonders how personal should a fiction writer get in their writing?; and Thaisa Frank relates her experience re-reading a book she wrote a long time ago that had her personal experiences wound into it.

So many things can interfere with our creativity. Kristi Holl examines “weakened mind anxiety”, while Katie Axelson talks about the paralysis that comes from equating success with perfection instead of diving into our passion.

Success can be elusive, but Suzannah Windsor Freeman lists 3 steps to creating your own writing luck, while Judy Christie lays out the number one rule of successful writers.


Amazon is being forced to pay sales tax in some states, and is adding warehouses to try and keep its competitive edge.

A new study shows that 55% of YA books are bought by adults, plus more news links from Bookriot.

Catherine Czerkawska wonders if we are seeing the death of the midlist; Andrew Karre talks about editing in the YA Boom Era; Simon & Schuster acquires a transmedia project from Kevin Costner aimed at YA; and the Philadelphia Inquirer previews the fall season for books.

Marie Lamba explains the best way to pitch to an agent; Mollie Glick lists 7 things agents want to see in a query and 9 things they don’t; and Dahlia Adler asks: what if your agent didn’t want to rep your next manuscript?

We’ve all heard about author platform by now. Matthew Turner lists 5 free services to help build author platform, while Jane Friedman focuses on the centerpiece of your platform—your website, with a resource list for building your first website.

Lauren Clark gives us 10 smart tips for writing a great author bio; Marie Lamba advises how to handle your book signings with grace and humor; and Jody Hedlund asks: when should a writer stop marketing a book?

Social media can be a great way to reach your readers, but Roni Loren warns that your Facebook fan page may be blocking fans from joining.

In Twitter advice, Debbie Ohi’s Writer’s Guide to Twitter and Elissa Lauren Field’s Twitter for Writers are valuable resources.

When you make a public promise, keep it. John Scalzi keeps his word. ‘Dear Twitter: Remember when I said that if I got 30k followers, I’d cover myself in frosting on @neilhimself’s yard?’


Want to research a war? Here’s an interactive map of every war in history!

Take a look at 9 lessons from the fictional women we’ve always wanted to be.

Jason Novak and the Ancient People bring us illustrations about where letter come from.

Check out these pretty amazing library tattoos. (Yes, we said LIBRARY TATTOOS.)

In the realm of dead authors in the news today: read about 30 Renowned Authors Inspired By Cats; see Mark Twain in full color, 1908; read Charles Dickens’ letter, lost for 150 years, regarding his divorce from his wife; see Jane Austen’s hair as art; and hear Tilda Swinton reading the first chapter of Moby-Dick as part of the Moby Dick Big Read, which pairs readings by celebrities with artwork inspired by Herman Melville’s book.

Check out the gorgeous digitized manuscript of The Gospels of Tsar Ivan Alexander from 1355, and long before there were paperbacks, there were the beautiful Medieval portable books now seen at Yale.

That’s all from us this week!


  1. Thanks so much for including me in your blog. I’m very honored.

    Joanne Wadsworth


    • You’re welcome, Joanne. Description is one of those things that is so hard to get just the right balance with. Thanks for the great post!


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