Posted by: Kerry Gans | September 27, 2012

Top Picks Thursday 09-27-2012

Feeling overwhelmed and stretched too thin? Psychologist and author Sarah Fine discusses boundaries and burnout in the online world.

While libraries here are closing their doors, in the Philippines Hernando Guanlao has turned his house into a public library. For more library-related links, check out this round-up from Stacked, and this round-up of bookish links from Book Riot.

Meanwhile, science confirms the obvious: literature is good for your brain.

NCTE’s National Day on Writing is October 20th – Kate Messner on how you can get into the act.

Here’s a new award for MG & YA writers: The New Visions Award, established this year, will be given for a middle grade or young adult fantasy, science fiction, or mystery novel by an author of color.


Chuck Wendig lists 25 Things You Should Do Before Starting Your Next Novel, while Wendy Meddour teaches us how to find our own “voice.”

Novel structure is the skeleton of our book. Kristen Lamb gives a lesson on structure; Martina Boone shows how to build deep conflict into the structure of your story; and K.M. Weiland shows why the story beginning and end must be linked.

Writing steampunk? Austin Sirkin lists 8 tips and tricks every steampunk writer should know.

Melissa Donovan gives 10 reasons writers should learn good grammar, while Neal Abbot explores using adverbs to create music for your readers’ ears.

Tim Kane is all tense this week: the benefits of writing in the present tense, and find your weak verbs by changing the tense in your manuscript.

Susan Dennard revisits show versus tell: macro-, micro-, and when to use it.

Ever hear of fossil words? Well, here are 35 fossil words still living in our lexicon today.

Characters are great when they’re doing what we want them to do—but forcing characters to do what the plot demands instead of what they demand can ruin a story. Sometimes, the only thing you can do with a character is kill him. Tina Glasneck explains when to kill a character.

Dialogue seems so easy but is so devilishly hard to get right. Joe Bunting give us 16 observations about real dialogue, while Marcy Kennedy shows us 7 tricks to add variety to our dialogue.

Revision got you crazed? Ash Krafton shares how to tighten your story without losing sleep; Kate Elliot advises approaching revision as keeping only the necessary words; and Brian Plank says if you do a first revision of the obvious errors, the other revisions may feel less overwhelming.

Jenny Hansen explains why she has 10 ways she’d love her books to be like Flat Stanley, and J.K. Rowling gets philosophical about anxiety and her new book: “The worst that can happen is that everyone says, That’s shockingly bad.”

We all want to get more done in the time we have. Lisa Schroeder talks time and productivity tips; Natalia Jones tells us how to write articles effortlessly; and Dawn Tripp explores the passion we bring to our writing by examining the life in fiction.

J.R. Parsons shares how NOT to become a literary mimic yet still learn from the great authors. And here are some writing tips from great authors.

Dr. Noa Kageyama examines comparing yourself with others: good or bad?; while Chuck Wendig says good writing is all about cultivating instinct.

Dave Trottier lists the 3 keys to failing as a writer, and Daphne Gray-Grant counters with the 7 habits of effective writers.


In the ever-growing sea of books out there, how do readers find new authors? Very interesting study from Kelly Gallagher on the 44 different and complex ways readers discover books—although the number one is the tried-and-true word of mouth recommendation.

Writers often want to know what the readers want. Teen Librarian Toolbox has some answers: what Hispanic/Latino teens think about Hispanic/Latino books and what boys think about reading YA. Meanwhile, Briony Chappell asks: Would you read novels aimed at the “new adult” market?

If you’re new to querying, Chuck Sambuchino tackles 9 frequently asked questions about query letters, while Writer’s Relief tells you how to spot poor literary agents.

If you’re an aspiring children’s book illustrator, Jennifer Laughran lists what to include in your children’s book illustration portfolio; and Debbie Ohi shares her two essential traits for success.

Lots of people are talking about book reviews this week. Christine Nolfi explains how to get your book reviewed; Jason Boog tells how to find the top reviewers on Amazon; and Bojan Tunguz lists 12 additional mistakes to avoid when asking for a book review.

Jody Hedlund shares what she learned about book signings from Beverly Lewis, and Shannon Taylor Hodnett talks book trailers—live-action vs. traditional.

The business side of publishing can get us all in knots. Lee Wind points us to Editorial Anonymous, a great resource for Kid Lit vocab and more to help demystify things; Fred Rosen shares what we need to know about selling your book’s movie and TV rights; and Kathleen Ortiz talks foreign rights.

Social media can be a source for building your career, or the means of destroying it. Rachel Thompson lists 5 top tips for a great author platform; WiseInk peeks at their 10 favorite author Twitter homepages; and Kristen Lamb says you won’t change the world with a hateful rant on social media—but you can change the world with the power of your stories.


Authors have lives beyond their books. Beatrix Potter’s 161-year-old recipe book goes on sale in England, and Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle’s pre-Sherlock notebooks give a glimpse into the young doctor’s time aboard a ship.

Ever wonder if certain characters were based on real people? Here are 10 famed literary figures based on real-life people.

Check out Book Breakups – why one reviewer stopped reading a book, and then get the alternate perspective from people who loved it.

Researching the Middle Ages? Use these rare but real Middle Age clothes-patterns for a realistic touch (Plimpton 180, c1500).

In case you missed it, September 21st was Hobbit Day! Bilbo Baggins would want you to have breakfast for dinner today to make up for missing Second Breakfast Day.

That’s it for us and for September—catch you in October!


  1. Oh my God…you put me in the same sentence as J.K. Rowling? Way to make my day, Kerry!!

    Thanks so much for the link. I’m glad Flat Stanley spoke to you. 🙂 Fantastic mashup.


    • Now you and J.K. will be forever linked! 🙂 Actually, Nancy Keim Comley found your post. My kid is only 2, so I have not been initiated into the world of Flat Stanley yet. But now that I know, it sounds like fun!


      • However you found me and More Cowbell, I appreciate it. I have a 2 year-old at home so I know how busy you are. 🙂


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