Posted by: Kerry Gans | March 14, 2013

Top Picks Thursday 03-14-2013

Happy Pi Day!

Can’t wait for spring? Devon Corneal has children’s books recommendations to celebrate spring.

Ever wish there was an easy way to understand Shakespeare’s plays? Here’s a fun infographic crash course in Shakespeare.

Scott Marlowe brings us 10 ways readers can help authors.

Are you REALLY a writer? Teen Writer Tips lists ways you can tell if you’re a writer.


The School Library Journal highlights a study that supports what those of us who love books already know: a full-time school librarian makes a critical difference in boosting student achievement.

Remember the iconic movie The Outsiders, based on S.E. Hinton’s book? Never would have happened without a librarian aide’s letter to Francis Ford Coppola.

The New York Public Library has been busy this week. First, here’s a recap of the NYPL Diversity Panel, focusing on privilege and getting into publishing. Then, NYPL president Tony Marx testified on proposed budget cuts to the library system.

Bookstores are special places. Allison Hill explains how people come to bookstores seeking answers to life’s tough questions. Take a look at this fun animated video showing how Newtonville Books transforms seating for author events. Roger Tagholm explores how bookstore window displays can boost a bookstore’s digital promotions with viral pictures. Finally, an Annapolis bookstore comes to the rescue when snow closes the local courthouse and derails a wedding.


On Monday, March 11th, 2013 Douglas Adams would have been 61. Google paid tribute with a Google Doodle full of hidden tricks; Neil Gaiman remembers the genius of Douglas Adams; and Book Riot celebrates with the 42 best lines from HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE.


The issue of “dark” YA comes around regularly. Caroline Hooten brings us a Children’s Book Circle panel event: Weighing Up the Dark With the Light in Teen Fiction.

“Issue” books can be very powerful, but Dave King warns against the trap of letting your passion for a topic turn your novel into a polemic. Meanwhile, Rainbow Rowell reminds us of the importance of depicting unconventional beauty in fiction.

Ilene Scheider explores the perils of writing a series, while Maria Tatar dissects the new generation of modern heroines.

Jody Hedlund lets us in on the key to successful storytelling, and K.M. Weiland expands on motivational-reaction units and their role in good storytelling.

Larry Brooks tells us to nail a better story concept to empower our story, and Melanie Pinola tackles the same idea from a different angle by explaining how to improve your storytelling with the word “but.”

Charlie Jane Anders has 8 unstoppable rules for writing killer short stories; Karen Woodward lists 12 tips on how to write antagonists your readers will love to hate; Natasa Lekic shows us 5 ways to add sparkle to your writing; and MoodyWriting explores when to state the obvious in a story.

Revision could go on forever if we let it. No matter what we do, our book is never perfect. Maureen Lynas gives us the stages for writing and revising a story; Ava Jae tackles editing—how do you know when you’re finished?; Tim Kane advises letting your manuscript incubate before that “final” edit; Noelle Sterne reminds us that we must step away at some point and stop editing; and Janice Gable Bashman and Kathryn Craft warn against the 7 deadly sins of self-editing.

We often are told that writers need to have a thick skin. Agent Rachelle Gardner argues that you don’t need a thick skin to survive in publishing, as long as you have other coping mechanisms; and Jody Hedlund explores the unnecessary shame writers feel when getting feedback on their work.

Rochelle Melander on 5 things children teach us about writing; Nichole Leigh Huff shares how she tricks herself into writing; Jennifer Egan explains how to write a great work of fiction; and Dr. Seuss with advice for writers.

Author Marie Lu says we need to stop labeling YA by gender and break down the artificial segregation of “boy books” versus “girl books.” Her suggestion created a bit of a stir. What do you think?


Last week, the uproar was over the contract terms of Random House’s e-only imprint Hydra. The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America responded by delisting Hydra as a qualifying market for acceptance to the organization. Random House sent a letter responding to the furor, which the SFWA answered in kind.

Then Jon Scalzi got his hands on a contract from another Random House e-only imprint, Alibi, and the pot boiled over as the same “predatory” terms came to light in this contract.

Apparently all the racket has made an impression. Random House has announced new, more author-friendly, terms for their 4 e-only imprints.

While we are at it, here are 25 things writers should beware from Chuck Wendig.

Ever wonder how a book cover happens? Irene Gallo walks us through the book cover process for Victoria Schwab’s new book VICIOUS.

What do agents and editors mean when they say your book is “too small”? Agent Janet Reid enlightens us.

Carole Blake shares 29 ways NOT to submit to an agent (some of them are mind-boggling).

If you are submitting non-fiction book proposals, Janet Reid points out the ONE THING your proposal MUST do.

Author Laurie Faria Stolarz walks us through the process of selling your novel—and it can take a long time. Sometimes your book is fine but your query is what needs work. Don’t rush into edits on your query when you get feedback—take time to make sure every word counts in your revised query.

Many authors dread marketing their book. Roz Morris says not to despair: authors might be better sellers than they think. After all, selling is all about story.

Goodreads CEO Otis Chandler reveals a remarkably easy way to sell more books.

Worried about how to handle school visits? Bruce Hale has 3 simple tips about how to make your school visits outstanding.

Social media can make us crazy, especially when it comes to leveraging it for marketing. Lisa Hall-Wilson discusses whether to use a Profile or Page on Facebook; Miriam Gershow explains why writers need book bloggers; and Rachel Fershleiser tells us what writers need to know about tumblr.

Want to turn your manuscript into an ebook? Patrick Samphire has a 4-part series that walks you through the process of turning your Word doc into an ebook.


These’ll make you laugh: 11 embarrassing grammar mistakes for National Grammar Day.

These are amazing: 8 literary Lego projects.

Listen to a rare 1922 recording of Gertrude Stein reading “A Valentine to Sherwood Anderson,” who passed away in 1941.

See O. Henry’s home, now a hotel in downtown Austin.

Finally, research to your heart’s content: the British National Archives Manorial Documents Register.

That’s it for us! Erin go Braugh! Have a fun and safe St. Patrick’s Day!

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