Posted by: Kerry Gans | February 21, 2013

Top Picks Thursday 02-21-2013

Authors need to know everything these days, so intellectual property rights attorney Susan Spann tells us how to protect ourselves and our copyrights.

Summer Hayes brings us Great Graphic Novels for Teens Top Ten (part 2), while J.E. Fishman explains that book quality is subjective, determined by the expectations of the reader.

Writers need to take care of themselves physically and mentally. Psychotherapist and author Philip Kenney talks about writers and depression, and Chuck Wendig tackles “authorial sludgebody syndrome.”

Everything you wanted to know about WANACon 2013—the 2-day online conference of the future. What it is, how it works, and who’s going to be there.

Chip MacGregor outlines what fiction trends are rising and falling, while the New York Times sees short fiction enjoying a resurgence thanks to the digital age.

Antonio del Drago asks: Should Christians write fantasy? Weigh in on the debate.

A lawsuit seeks to determine once and for all if the characters of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson are public domain.

Harry Potter turns 15, and the covers get a makeover.

Put great books and great teachers together and you change lives: see how Mrs. Grady transformed Olly Neal, and find out how Katherine Sokolowski gets her students to read.

February is “Love A Library” month. Unfortunately, author Terry Deary believes libraries have outlived their usefulness and are stealing money from authors. Dr. Marc Morris has a short but pointed rebuttal to Mr. Deary’s stance.


Are you trying to write a story on a grand scale but can’t quite figure out how? Codey Amprim lists the 4 elements of epic storytelling to help you out.

The pantser vs. plotter debate is as old as writing itself. Jami Gold rallies the pantsers by using story theme to guide the plot, while Sandra Carey Cody explains how to create an easy outline. But Anna Collomore treads the middle ground, showing how to use an outline yet still leave enough room for creativity.

Juliette Wade discusses how much internalized self-awareness a character needs in your book, while Marcy Kennedy makes the case for 4 situations when telling is better than showing.

The violent side of life can be hard to capture if we haven’t experienced it. Jarrah Loh gives tips for writing realistic fight scenes, and Garry Rodgers tells us how to get away with murder.

Fiction should bring the reader an experience, so Karen Woodward reminds us that good writing uses all the senses. Lucy McCarraher explains how to use reversals in fiction to improve your story.

Paying attention to every word is critical. Rob Reinalda brings us 12 modifiers that writers should trash, and Tim Kane advocates beefing up the verbs to bring zing to your story.

Instead of doling out advice, author Ann Swann wants to know: How much gore is too much? Stop over and tell her your opinion.

Reading a lot of good books is essential to learning to write well. Ash Krafton makes the case for why authors should be reviewers, and Chuck Wendig teaches us how to read like a writer.

Readers will have differnet opinions, of course. Lisa Cron lists 5 reasons why readers love your story—and Liz Pelletier shows that bad reviews are inevitable.

We’re all juggling tasks, aren’t we? Patrick Carr explains how to write while managing a full-time job, and he gives us 5 ways to maximize our time. Meanwhile, Sulagna Dasgupta hands us the 5 key steps to increase concentration.

One of the biggest problems writers face is getting distance from our stories when revising. Robert Friele and Amy Ellis Nutt discuss how to look at our own work more objectively. Something as simple as the software you use can help with objectivity. Naomi Musch explains why Scrivener may be right for you.

Self-publishing is a viable way to go with your work these days, but you’d better understand what’s in store for you. Self-pubbed author Florence Osmund shares 5 things she learned in 2012. One thing about self-publishing, and sometimes even small press, is that your cover must be professional. Jane Lebak gives authors tips on how to work with a cover artist to get the best results.

If you’re a middle grade writer, take a look at this roundtable discussion with Jeanne Birdsall, Rebecca Stead, and N.D. Wilson.

We’re all victims of the green-eyed monster from time to time—it’s human nature. But in life and in our writing careers, we all take our own road. Lynda R. Young reminds us of 4 reasons NOT to compare yourself to others, while James Scott Bell urges us to write our own truth—and that is where our uniqueness will shine.

Some writers journal, although their reasons why may vary. Joan Didion explains why she keeps a notebook.

Shawn St. Jean on what “weapons” writers need to “do battle” with their work.

And Chuck Wendig reveals the hardest writerly truth of them all.


The Penguin Random House merger has been cleared in the US by the Department of Justice. It is still awaiting a similar go-ahead from Europe.

Simon & Schuster reports that sales are up, but that profits have dipped, largely because of the litigation costs of the different agency pricing lawsuits.

There is a new open access bill (FASTR) in Congress, and publishers are coming out strongly against it, as they did in with similar bill last year.

Rex Hammond tackles the future of print magazines. Will they last? His answer: yes, no, and maybe.

Author Joanne Bischoff explains how she found her literary agent. If you’re still looking for yours, try new agents Marisa Cleveland of The Seymour Agency and Steve Kasdin of Curtis Brown.

Marketing our books is all about discoverability. Roz Morris talks about how people find new books online, while Rachelle Gardner tells us how to make self-promotion something we love instead of hate.

Take a look at the effect a Skype visit from an author can have on kids; marketer B. McKenzie shares some brief observations on writing; and Sarah Pinneo shows us how to properly link to booksellers from our website.

Jane Friedman explains why her 6-figure Twitter following isn’t all that it seems to be; Jonathan Gunson highlights the biggest mistake authors make on social media; and Thomas Umstattd has 10 ways to bring readers to your website.


Think the rules at your library are strict? Take a look at these 9 very specific rules at real libraries.

Gorgeous pictures of Mark Twain’s Connecticut house, and Dan Oresman’s incredible home library.

A rare poem by William Topaz McGonagall, the “world’s worst poet,” is expected to fetch £3,000 at auction. A far cry from the days he was “so detested he was pelted with rotten fish.”

John Green chats with President Obama in a Fireside Hangout, and the President tells Green’s unborn child, “Don’t forget to be awesome.”

That’s it for this week!


  1. Love your round-ups! (My browser window? Not so much. 🙂 ) Thanks for gathering these and including mine!


    • Your welcome! People seemed to be thinking a lot about plotting this week.


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