Posted by: Kerry Gans | May 2, 2013

Top Picks Thursday 05-02-2013

Happy May, everyone!

A Boston bookseller’s view of the Boston bombing and the aftermath.

April 23rd was World Book Night’s giveaway, this year topping 500,000 books. Neil Gaiman talks about his World Book night experience.

Oxford English Dictionary editor John Simpson is retiring.

A new study confirms what most of us already knew: parents are the main influence on whether children become lifelong readers.

How’s this for a great deal? A man buys a book for $3.50, and finds the autograph of a famous person inside.


The gender divide persists.At io9, Annalee Newits look at Strange Horizons’ survey of gender in publication and reviewing in SFF. And even more concerning, Wikipedia is removing female novelists from the American Novelist category and limiting them to American Female Novelists—leaving the American Novelist list almost exclusively male.

Having trouble writing? Kody Keplinger has 5 writing exercises to defeat writer’s block, while Melissa Donovan has tips for kicking writer’s block and getting inspired.

Once you start writing, do NOT start your novel with any of these chapter 1 cliches and literary agent pet peeves.

Kristen Lamb has not one, but two tips for creating multi-dimensional characters. Once you have those characters, Mary Kole says to juice the big emotions—reach your book’s emotional potential in every scene. Noelle Sterne warns against lazy writing, and tells us how to spot it.

Roz Morris has 7 steps to create a sizzling dialogue scene; Lucy V. Hay gives us 6 tips for writing a 1-page pitch that pops; and Delilah S. Dawson lists 10 steps to writing a page-turner novella.

After you’ve been working on your novel for what seems like forever, Kaitlin Ward shares how to know when you are done revising. Once you’ve got a polished manuscript, is a writing contest the right step for you? Jami Gold explores why to enter contests and what it takes to final in one. And Rachelle Gardner tells us how to NEVER lose your work EVER again.

Getting published is a business, so we’d better know our options. Chuck Wendig explores the value of being a “hybrid” author, and Write4Kids lists 7 things editors at children’s publishers wish writers knew.

Wisdom from published authors: Terry Pratchett on writing despite his Alzheimer’s diagnosis, YA author Jill Wolfson on tackling serious issues in a humorous way; and William Zinsser on listening to your writing. Have more writing questions? Check out the Writers’ Knowledge Base to find the best writings on writing.

Theo Pauline Nestor tackles the burning question every new writer wants answered; writer’s hands give good writing advice; and Chuck Wendig opines on the value of the age-old advice “sit ass in chair and write.”


Victoria Strauss reports that a class action lawsuit has been filed against Author Solutions and its parent company Penguin.

Looking for a literary agent? Stina Lindenblatt explains how to stalk agents effectively (and legally). One agent you might stalk is Kathleen Zakhar of Harold Ober Associates. She’s seeking sci-fi, fantasty, horror, historical fiction, magical realism, all things YA and more.

Chuck Sambuchino gives a great example of what your pitch should NOT look like. To see what works, browse these 60 actual query letters that got writers their agents.

Martin Jones on why you can’t ignore social media marketing. Erin MacPherson has 5 ways to use Pinterest as an author. Ava Jae shares how NOT to write a blog post.

Platform building got you stumped or frazzled? Christina Katz has 50 simple ways to build your platform in 5 minutes a day. To fascinate readers with your platform and yourself, follow Sally Hogshead’s advice: be yourself.


In honor of Shakespeare’s birthday, 20 awesome Shakespearean insults, AND Shakespeare’s First Folio is now live online.

Hundreds of stolen books are returned years later to Lambeth Palace Library.

Giving us a peek into everyday life in the Middle Ages, Erik Kwakkel shows us 132 recycled notes found in a book.

That’s it for us this week!

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