Posted by: Kerry Gans | August 1, 2013

Top Picks Thursday 08-01-2013

Happy August! Are you finding it hard to keep your writing focus during the summer months? Here are tips from 6 middle grade and YA authors on how to keep focused on the writing during the dog days of summer.

When we get published, authors become public figures. Rachel Kent lays out some basic protection techniques for authors to help keep undesirables from our doorstep.

Protecting our work is just as important as protecting ourselves. Jami Gold takes a look at the new face of piracy—plagiarism—and what we can do to fight back. And speaking of stealing work, here’s a great article from attorney David L. Amkraut on what constitutes Fair Use.

Photos are powerful, and we use them as our identity on the web, as well as to spice up blog posts. Thomas Umstattd tells photographers how to take portraits for an author website, while Caitlin Muir lists 11 places for get a free and legal photo for your blog.

The topic of writing groups usually begins a healthy debate, and Jeff Moriarity speaks about writing groups and their value in 2013.

As writers, we are all fascinated with language. Tania Lombrozo explores just what makes something a new language, rather than simply a dialect. 

Last week we introduced the concept of a book shepherd. This week here is the rest of everything you need to know about a book shepherd. Perhaps a book shepherd can keep you from making the mistake of using one of these 19 cliché book covers.


Often the most daunting part of writing a novel is facing that initial blank page. The Young Writers Society tackles the question, “How do you start writing a novel in the first place?” And how about deciding point of view? K.M. Weiland discusses when NOT to give an interesting character a POV in your book.

Many writers start with plot. Janice Hardy explores how computer games can help with your plotting, while K.M. Weiland lists 5 ways to write a killer plot twist. Jane Lebak chimes in with the difference between ideas and follow-through—and how no two writers will ever write the same story based on the same idea.

Description is the downfall of many a writer. Natalie Whipple discusses how to use physical description, while Angela Ackerman outlines 3 common problems with show and tell emotional description.

The little things can make a huge difference. Mignon Fogarty demystifies dangling participles, C.S. Lakin clarifies “who” vs. “that,” and Rayne Hall begs us to excise “look” and “turn” from our manuscript.

Among the many things writers need to have in their arsenal are creativity, confidence, courage, and resilience. Ellis Shuman discusses the creativity he finds writing in his sleep, David Thorpe explores the crucial writing asset of confidence, and Rachelle Gardner asks if we are afraid to tell the truth and if we have resilience.

Jody Hedlund lays out reasons why favorite authors disappoint their readers, and Madeline Tasky Sharples reminds all of us to make the decision to do the hard work before you start to write a book. After all, writing IS hard work. But what about the overnight successes, you ask? Marie Forleo shares 3 real truths about overnight successes.


If you are interested in self-publishing, Janice Hardy tells you what you really want to know about self-publishing. If you’d rather go traditional, Carolyn Kaufman explains how to find a reputable agent or publisher. And Shirley Showalter explores why the small press option might be best for you.

Agent Maria Lamba answers the perennial question: is summer a good time to query?; while Jennifer Niesslein lays out 6 rules of thumb for submitting to magazines.

Want to run a virtual book tour? Among the things you need is a good book blurb to make people interested in hosting you. Piara Strainge gives a step-by-step planning guide for a virtual book tour, while Pandora Poikilos shares the secret of a successful virtual tour.

Bob Baker explains the single biggest mistake people make trying to sell books, and gives us 3 easy steps to selling a lot more books and information products.

Still wondering how to make the most of your presence on Facebook? Lisa Hall Wilson advises pulling back the curtain and letting your followers see Oz. And what about Twitter? Savvy Book Writers has a great Twitter stat breakdown if Twitter were only 100 people, while Marcy Kennedy shares 7 reasons every writer must be on Twitter.


Jill Harness compiles 62 of the world’s most beautiful libraries for your viewing pleasure.

Check out these 17 euphemisms for sex in the 1800s. Some are instantly recognizable; some make you scratch your head.

And Gay Talese explores the social order of New York City’s cats in his New York: A Serendipiter’s Journey.

That’s all from us this week!

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