Posted by: Kerry Gans | July 4, 2013

Top Picks Thursday 07-04-2013

Happy Fourth of July! Happy birthday, America. We wish all our readers a safe and fun holiday.

Author Jay Lake is dying, and his last wish is to take his teenage daughter on a final adventure. You can help him.

Edinburgh’s mystery paper sculptor has left another book art gift.

A discussion of Lee & Low’s infographic showing that the number of multicultural books has not budged in 18 years.

If you use Scrivener writing software, here are free Scrivener templates to format novels & sci-fi stories from Justin Swapp.

Hey, unagented YA/MG/NA writers – the 2nd annual #XmasinJuly pitch contest is here! Submissions open July 9th. And for anyone looking for an agent in any genre, check out the manuscript wish lists shared by agents on Twitter.

What do kids read, and what do kids write? NPR focuses on what kids are reading in school and out and the disturbing trend towards lower reading levels, while the Oxford University Press analyzes what the words children use in their own writing tells us. Barbara Binns recaps a session from ALA 2013 on how to attract reluctant male readers.

Chuck Wendig makes an impassioned plea to authors on behalf of independent bookstores, and Galley Cat follows up with 5 ways authors can sell books through independent bookstores online.

CRAFT

You can’t judge a book… Who are we kidding? People totally judge books by their covers every day. Cover designer Laura Duffy explains the art of the book cover.

After a great cover grabs the reader’s attention, your opening is the next big selling point. Jacqueline Green shares her checklist for openings, while Jodie Renner lists 10 things you don’t want in your novel. Further, K.M. Weiland looks at 8 promises you’re making to readers and probably not keeping.

Plots can drive us crazy. Kristen Lamb urges simpler plots as a way to write faster, and Ki-Wing Merlin explains how to make sure your plot captures the heart of your novel.

C.S. Lakin explores how to focus the camera on what your character notices; Jane Friedman discusses the problem with overly-nice characters; and Liz Bureman asks whether your story needs a hero or an anti-hero.

Tony Venderwarker helps us escape John Grisham’s 5 traps of the imagination; Chuck Wendig says writing magic should help us, not imprison us; and Debbie Ridpath Ohi talks about how we make our own “luck” in the writing business.

Kelly Jensen corrects some common misconceptions about YA; Francis Slakey learns more about his own life journey through a message from a reader; and Stephen King talks about his compulsion to write and his Under The Dome.

Want to know if you can “make it” as a writer? Megan Shepard shares 5 traits of published writers.

BUSINESS

In publishing news, the Random House-Penguin merger is complete; Hachette will acquire Disney’s Hyperion Book business; and Victoria Barnsley leaves the helm at HarperCollins UK.

Check out Jane Friedman’s Best Business Advice for Writers for June.

All authors receive the dreaded rejection letter (or email). Debra Darvick reminds us of the 10 hidden gifts of rejection letters.

If you are self-publishing, Kristen Lamb shares 5 common tactical errors in self-publishing.

Christina Katz explains that platforms need to be maintained after they are built.

Meghan Ward lists 5 alternatives to Google Reader, which went away July 1st; Jami Gold explores the pros and cons of using a third-party commenting system on your blog; and Jane Friedman has 3 reasons why Facebook cannot replace an author website.

THE UNIQUE SHELF

Take a look at a bookstore in a converted train car.

The new Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire cover is revealed.

Check out Medieval pet names for dogs and cats.

That’s it for us this week! Enjoy your holiday!

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