Posted by: Kerry Gans | November 8, 2012

Top Picks Thursday 11-08-2012

The political election may be over, but online writing polls never stop. K.M. Weiland asks: How long have you been working on your WIP?

Hudson Booksellers picks the Best Books of the Year and names AJ Jacobs’ DROP DEAD as their Top Title.

Speaking of best books, School Library Journal brings us the Newbury/Caldecott 2013 predictions.

Debbie Ridpath Oh with a cautionary tale: why writers must take regular breaks from their keyboard.


After the devastation of Sandy, many people are at a loss of how to help. Here’s one way: KidLitCares auction for Sandy relief. Great prizes for a great cause.

FEMA administrator Craig Fugate advises: “It may be scary for children, good time to get out the books and read to them.”

And here’s Dr. Seuss on hurricane preparation.


Characters drive novels. Martina Boone gives us a way to tell if our character can carry a whole novel; Karen Woodward explains how to get your readers to identify with your main characters; and Caris Roane/Valerie King explores one character essential: the worldview.

Daphney Gray-Grant shows how to charge up your writing with vibrant verbs, while Lori Devoti lists 5 “must checks” during the revision process. Roni Loren asks, have you ever lost perspective on whether your own work is good or bad?

For those who write non-fiction, Ali Luke tells us how to write a high-quality ebook in 30 days, and Rachelle Gardner gives us 10 things editors look for in non-fiction.

Write too slowly? Danny Iny has tips to speed up your writing and skyrocket your quality at the same time. Fire up your passion using Ray Bradbury’s advice: list 10 things you love, 10 things you hate, and 10 things you fear. If you’re researching a historical novel (or even a modern one in a different location from you), Ann Roscopf Allen has 12 ways to research a historical novel.

From the miscellaneous category: Rachelle Gardner asks if the writing community insulates writers from readers; Vimeo explains the link between storytelling and mental health and the SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK; and Twitter users everywhere can thank Chaucer for inventing that word and so many more.

Writing can be so emotional—both during the creation process and during the marketing process. Jami Gold asks if we can tell when we’re getting “close,” while Jody Hedlund wonders if it’s healthy for authors to stalk review sites. Henri Junttila shares the writer’s guide to overcoming insecurity, and Rochelle Melander discloses what veteran writers know.

Need to get motivated? The Writing Reader offers us writing prompt 472 – Shadow Play, while Chuck Wendig gets all philosophical with 25 motivational thoughts for writers.

A couple of unusual but fun links: a flow chart of contemporary YA fiction to help you find out who to read, and the SHOW OFF ANTHOLOGY, ten stories edited by Joe Bunting, culled from his website The Write Practice.


Nathan Bransford explains why the traditional publishing industry is NOT deserving of special protections.

Perhaps in a move to protect themselves, Penguin and Random House have agreed to a merger, setting off a whole lot of speculation. The Authors Guild came out against the merger, Forbes speculates that the new entity could squeeze more favorable terms from agents and authors, and Random House CEO Markus Dohle attempts to demystify the merger with a letter to agents. And check out the story of Allen Lane, Penguin founder and paperback hero.

In other publishing news, a UK law firm will mount a challenge to VAT on ebooks—which will impact Amazon if they are successful.

Janet Kobobel Grant explains why agents should collect and disperse the author’s money for them, while Rachelle Gardner gives 13 etiquette tips to help make professional interactions more pleasant.

Marketing is falling more and more on the author’s shoulders, and completely so if you are self-published. James Campbell has a beginner’s guide to marketing indie literary fiction; Kristin Lamb debunks 3 social media myths; here’s a publisher’s smart use of Pinterest to tout a new book; and a new app, Subtext, allows for inside-book discussions.


Classics: Sylvia Plath reads “The Birthday Party” in a rare 1962 recording; while Dave Malloy and Rachel Chavkin have turned Tolstoy’s WAR & PEACE into an immersive elctro-pop opera.

Kind of spooky: Bookshelves that become your coffin, and a Medieval manuscript manual for witch hunters.

Film & photos: Check out Air New Zealand’s Hobbit-themed safety video; Mikko Lagerstedt’s amazing photos inspired by Finnish mythology; and the story behind the startling photo “Little Red Riding Hood’s Demise.

That’s it for us this week!

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