Posted by: Kerry Gans | November 29, 2012

Top Picks Thursday 11-29-2012

How was your family Thanksgiving? Likely better than it would have been with any of these 10 worst fictional families to spend Thanksgiving with.

Hurricane Sandy’s effects go on. Volunteer to help clean up the damage at the Pearl S. Buck House. Also, the amazing way Rockaway libraries are holding devastated communities together.

Libraries are under attack both here and in the UK. Karen D. Lash explains the importance of school libraries, while Billy Elliot author Lee Hall protests the proposed closure of Newcastle’s public libraries in the UK. Perhaps even more insidious, Dr. Douglas Fields takes a look at the new models of scholarly science journals and finds them severely damaging to science’s impartiality and social impact.

A few conference overviews: NCTE/ALAN 2012, UK SCBWI 2012, and PhilCon 2012.

On the lighter side, check out the Hot Men of YA Literature; 1936 predictions of which authors would still be read in 2000; and the most grammatically correct Christmas card ever.


Many self-published authors are also the artists for their covers, or at least have to know what they’re looking for in their cover. Here is an interesting look at fantasy covers and the use of people vs. objects on them.

A lot of you have spit out a first draft during NaNoWriMo. Charlie Jane Anders explains how to tell if your first draft is worth salvaging. While thinking about this, see if you’ve made any of the 5 most common fiction writing mistakes writers make.

Chuck Wendig lists 25 ways to make exposition work for you, while Jami Gold wonders if writing research is a pain or a gain.

Characters carry your novel. Roz Morris advises on what to do if you hate writing a character; Kay Kenyon explores the contradiction in character; and Darcy Pattison explains 4 things a character list reveals about your novel.

Writing advice abounds on the internet. Nadia Kalman lists 3 anti-social behaviors that can improve your writing; Jessica Baverstock has 37 tips to get you writing again when you’re stuck; Joss Whedon shares his 10 rules on storytelling; and C.S. Lewis’ immortal writing tips live on.

Critique partners can be an invaluable resource to improving you writing (and confidence). Danielle LaPorte and Linda Sivertsen tell how to find your ideal writing partner, while Tiffany Schmidt explains just how valuable her crit partner was on her road to publication.

Writing time is odd. Most of us don’t have enough of it, but sometimes when we do we end up procrastinating instead of writing. Alesha Escobar gives time management tips; Your Focused Vision advises writing things down as a form of stress relief; and Rachelle Gardner has found great success with using 90-minute intervals of work. If procrastination is your enemy, here are Steven Pressfield’s top 12 tips for overcoming procrastination, and Jeffe Kennedy shares another method to stop procrastination and meet deadlines with room to spare. Still struggling to balance it all? Tracking Wonder says forget balance and strive for the right mix—it’s healthier and easier.

Knowing how successful writers do what they do can sometimes give us the method to improve our own process. No one method will work for everyone, but we can pick and choose and cobble together a method that works for us from the methods others use. BrainPickings gives us the daily routines of famous writers; Victoria Grefer explores the benefits and drawbacks of imitating vs. admiring famous authors; Chuck Wendig explains his amazingly prolific writing process; Jody Hedlund tells how concentrating on scenes helps her structure her books; Ruta Sepetys describes finding personal history while writing historical fiction; and excerpts from the new book Listening for Madeline explores Madeline L’Engle’s process and personality from many different people’s viewpoints.

Writing can be fraught with fear and doubt. Sarah Pinneo shares what she learned about writing from knitting; Ed Cyzewski lists 5 safe places to work on writing projects; Britta Reque-Dragicevic shows how to overcome fear; and Chuck Wendig says that while failure IS an option, quitting should NEVER be.

Defining what a book is can be tricky. Over at Stacked Books, Kelly J. wonders when a formerly contemporary novel becomes historical. Meanwhile, James Scott Bell ponders if immersive books will kill imagination, and can a self-published author even afford to create an immersive in the first place?


Mergers, spinoffs, and additions:  HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster are reportedly in “preliminary” merger talks; McGraw-Hill sells its education division; and Simon & Schuster offer a new self-publishing option through Author Solutions. In case you don’t know, Author Solutions (recently purchased by Penguin) has a seriously shady reputation (David Gaughran gives an overview, and WriterBeware’s Victoria Strauss also weighs in), which has a lot of authors scratching their heads over the outsourcing to Author Solutions by currently reputable publishers.

Tim Sanders explores the surprising truth about how publishers buy books and determine advances.

Agent Jane Dystel on what an agent looks for when thinking of signing a self-published author. And when you write your query letter to an agent, do not write your query in first person as your character—Jane Lebak explains why.

You need to know how to talk about your book when approaching an agent, editor, or even someone who imply asks you what your book is about. Susan J. Morris gives 10 Dos and Don’ts for creating an elevator pitch, while Chuck Sambuchino goes into more long-form with 5 tips for writing a novel synopsis.

The Internet is a great way for introverts to connect with their readers without all the social pressure that comes with in-person events. Melissa Ng lists 5 ways an introvert can build a thriving online audience; Jane Friedman expands on that with how anyone can build long-lasting traffic to their website; Jasmine Henry gives tips for writing blog titles that earn re-tweets; and how can you go wrong with Ernest Hemingway’s 5 secrets to good blogging.


In something of a scandal, a former Old English Dictionary editor deleted thousands of words, claims a new book.

Art is wonderful in its diversity: the BBC has thousands of paintings online to inspire you; a man gets a writer’s house tattooed on his arm; and Jane Mount paints portraits of famous creators through the spine of their favorite books.

Manuscripts from around the world! Fantastic Latin and Greek manuscript digital images, the Irish Book of Kells complete with puns, and the amazing journeys of medieval manuscripts around Europe.

That’s it for us this week! See you in December!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


%d bloggers like this: