Posted by: Kerry Gans | June 13, 2013

Top Picks Thursday 06-13-2013

We are almost halfway through June. For those of us with children, this means the dreaded summer vacation is upon us and writing time will be scarce.

In sad news, author Iain Banks dies of cancer at age 59. Interviewers and authors pay tribute to one of Scotland’s literary greats.

To lighten things up a bit, listen to William Shatner read his version of WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE.


There were so many posts on this topic this week that we broke them out into their own section. It seems like these two topics are on many authors’ minds right now.

Jennifer Lynn Barnes gets scientific in her examination of author gender, null results, and privilege. The British version of VIDA weighs in with statistics in its own account of women’s literary presence in Britain.

Lauren Sandler tries to make a case that women can only be successful writers if they only have 1 child (see the comments from Jane Smiley and other authors), while Chuck Wendig explains 25 things to know about sexism and misogyny in writing and publishing.

Maureen Johnson and book gendering have been in the media of late, and this is a further conversation of book gendering and the blinders some publishers seem to have. Meanwhile, Holly Black answers the “where are the books for boys” question.


We all know agents and editors make their decision based on the first pages of your book. Darcy Pattison explains why editors focus on page one, and Anne R. Allen gives a self-editing checklist of 10 things your opening chapter should do.

There are so many craft elements we need to put into our writing. Jane Lebak tells us how to interweave setting with character interaction; Dr. John Yeoman shows how to make any story plausible; Kent DuFault helps us perform a clichectomy; Karen Dionne talks seamless backstory; and Larry Brooks advises using subplots and subtext to improve your writing.

Characters carry plot—if done well, characters and plot should be inextricable. Start by deciding what characters belong in your story. The clash of characters is what brings the story to life. Make characters compelling by giving them dilemmas. Create radical empathy in readers by giving your characters flaws. If your character flaw is trauma, check out the latest two installments of author and psychologist Sarah Fine’s blog series on PTSD: avoidance and numbing and triggers.

Many writers struggle with dialogue. Lisa Walker England has 5 principles for dialogue that delivers, while Rob D. Young points out 6 ways you’re botching your dialogue.

Editing can be the hardest part of writing for some. Diane O’Connell shares 3 traps that might be sabotaging your novel, and K.M. Weiland lists her 15 self-editing steps from first draft to publication.

Even with all the editing, good writing isn’t enough to get noticed—you have to have a killer concept, according to Tara Lazar and James Burks. And you have to finish the project. Alythia Brown gives 6 tips to help you finish your novel, while Carolyn Meyer shares her novel writing process.

We’ve all had that trouble finishing a project—those moments when we just wanted to quit the whole writing scene. Kristen Lamb explores how to get past the “dip”—and how to gain the self-discipline to keep going. Speaking of writing discipline, Faith Mortimer explains the benefits of writing every day.

Chuck Wendig gives us 25 things we should know about Young Adult fiction, while Mike Paine explores audio books inside and out.

Caitlin Rizzo delves into Emily Dickinson and the science of poetry, while Joss Whedon explains how Shakespeare informs his superhero movies.

Angela Ackerman asks: Are you becoming successful and not noticing? She lays out 7 signs of emerging success that authors often overlook.


In the Apple agency pricing lawsuit, Apple says it wanted to level the playing field for publishers, and Sam Gustin examines the case in defense of Apple.

Kevin O’Kelly explains why the “books are dead” trope is dead, while John Green argues with people who say that authors don’t need publishers or bookstores.

Looking for an agent? Brian A. Klems lists 4 things to consider when researching literary agents.

Social media is key to author success these days. Victoria Scott has tips to make your Twitter bio pop.

For those looking to self-publish, Roz Morris explains how to make a print book using Word.


Charles Dickens died June 9, 1870. Check out this video on his unforgettable characters, and this funny Dickens tribute song via Horrible Histories.

This GIF will show you how to know if you’re a writer—or maybe you share the odd habits of one of the great writers.

Nathan Bransford explores what to do when classics leave you cold. Speaking of classics, here are some vintage photos of early film and stage versions of ALICE IN WONDERLAND, and Sarah Mesle lists 10 things to learn from loving ANNE OF GREEN GABLES.

If you are researching, here is an excellent website on Ancient History.

Anyone with a cat recognizes the plight of this Medieval man trying to read while his cat “helps.”

That’s all for this week!

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