Posted by: Kerry Gans | March 7, 2013

Top Picks Thursday 03-07-2013

Attention iPad/iPhone users: Amazon says skip the latest update of the Kindle app or you might lose your books. A glitch seems to erase a user’s library. A fix is reportedly in the works.

Since it’s March, there hopefully won’t be many more wintery nights, but just in case, Wendy Webb has shared a list of spooky reads for wintery evenings. If spooky isn’t your thing, check out Publishers Weekly’s novel list, which has the No-1 selling books each year for the last 100 years. Some names you know, some you’ve likely never heard of.

As wonderful as the Internet is, there is an awful lot of misinformation floating around out in the ether that gets taken as gospel by those who find it. Author Chuck Wendig tackles some of the misinformation about publishing out there, and wants you to help dispel the misinformation by sharing your actual experiences with publishing in the comment section of his blog.

Jane Friedman analyzes the controversial state of online journalism today, while this infographic shows what technologies are used by travel writers.

We all need research in our books. A couple of neat archives: Harper’s Weekly has released every Civil War issue they published on DVD (that’s 4,176 pages, every issue from January 5, 1861 to December 30, 1865); and the vast collections of the National Trust in Britain are now online.

Most of us are of an age where we still think “library” when we think of research. Nathan Bransford, though, wonders what role libraries should play in an electronic world. Alan Jacobs has a post on why libraries still matter, and always will.


Writers get asked all the time about their writing process. The people asking are usually looking for some tried-and-true formula that will lead them to success. The truth is, everyone’s process is different, and you need to find your own way. Sharing their processes are Joanne Wadsworth (laid out step by step), Christina Dodd (the best way to write a book), and Rebecca Miller (who wrote part of her book from the POV of a fly).

Part of the process, of course, is getting the initial idea and also figuring out what your novel is really about (this often comes after the first draft). Catherine Czerkawska shares where her ideas for The Curiosity Cabinet came from, while Bryan Furness writes about the first time he figured out what his novel was about.

Do you struggle with plot? Stuart Horwitz has a method of thinking about plot differently. You could also ask C.S. Lakin’s 5 key questions to ask as you write your novel.

John Yeoman gives us  3 ways to make your fiction true; Tim Kane says travel scenes with a purpose are not taboo; and Joseph Brassey lists the most memorable fight scenes in literature so you can look at them and get yours right.

Roz Morris talks about 3 ways your novel might carry unwanted junk, and how to cut to reveal the true form of your novel. Meanwhile, agent Carly Watters stresses the importance of authors gaining objectivity and distance from their work, so the author can know what experience they are giving the reader.

Jody Hedlund shares her secret for avoiding writer’s block, while Kristen Lamb lists 7 things confident writers don’t do. One thing confident writers DO do is finish what they start. Finishing requires finding the time to work, so Suzanne Rock tells us how to budget creativity.

The best advice comes from people who have been there and done that. Novelist Melanie Gideon shares her 7 best pieces of writing advice; Terry Tempest Williams gives her take on writing; Phillip Lopate lays out his method of success; and Rachel Caine reminds us of the value of making mistakes.

Tara Conklin lists 5 tips for how to write like a lawyer; musician Amanda Palmer posted a TED talk many, including Chuck Wendig, are talking about; and Douglas Brunt advises writers NOT to imitate any else’s writing style.

Finally, Chuck Wendig makes a statement that should be obvious but apparently is not: not every writer wants to be a publisher.


The savvy Jane Friedman has her Best Business Advice links Feb 2013 available.

According to Joseph Esposito, the digital publishing revolution is over.

The BBC will sell its majority stake in Lonely Planet to Kentucky billionaire Brad Kelley.

When submitting to an agent (or publisher), taking the time to create a strong submission package is essential. Kathryn Craft walks us through what we need to design an impressive submission package, while Writer’s Digest shows us exactly what your story pitch should NOT look like.

Even the best submission packet can garner a rejection. Agent Marie Lamba explains some of the reasons why she passes on queries. Agent Rachelle Gardner reminds us that agents experience rejection, too, as she shares how an agent feels when they fail to sell your book.

If you are searching for an agent, check out the interviews with Melissa Flashman of Trident Media, Ethan Vaughan of Kimberly Cameron, and Kezia Toth of Union Literary to see if any of them are right for you.

There’s been a lot of discussion on how and even if authors should use social media to promote their books and themselves. Kristen Jett explores the question: does blogging help or hurt your career? Maureen Johnson (recently named The Queen of Teen in the UK), talks about how to do social media right, while Jami Gold backs her up by explaining how to make friends online.


As authors, we love words. The Oxford English Dictionary provides the interesting stories behind some everyday words, such as “digital” and “precarious.”

Going to England? If you stop in London, be sure to visit an independent bookstore. If you find yourself at the Shakespeare Centre, ask to see the Klingon translation of Hamlet. Yes, I said Klingon.

For years, Proust’s madeleine story has been a staple example of involuntary memory retrieval triggered by a sense. Now, a researcher is saying that Proust’s madeleine doesn’t mean that at all—in fact, quite the opposite.

Medieval manuscripts are valuable because of the stories contained within them, but some manuscripts themselves have amazing stories all their own. Getty presents the Many Stories of Medieval Manuscripts in an upcoming exhibit. (scroll down to get to the story). Erik Kwakkel discovered a manuscript with an interesting story on the shelves of the library where he works—a medieval manuscript made out of garbage! Scraps of parchment bound together—what would today be the equivalent of us making a book out of all the napkins and post-it notes we’d scribbled on.

That’s it for us this week!


  1. Woo hoo! I’m backing up Maureen Johnson. LOL!

    Thanks for sharing the great collection of links and for including mine. 🙂


    • Anytime! I think it’s hard for introverts like me to make friends even online, so it’s good to get a reminder how to do it right.


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: