Posted by: Kerry Gans | September 5, 2013

Top Picks Thursday 09-05-2013

Welcome to September! We hope everyone had a fun Labor Day holiday.

We write for all sorts of reasons. Jane Lebak ponders how we writers can use our writing skills for doing good.

Nathan Bransford wonders if we as a culture have lost our taste for complex literature–and what this means for society. He also steps into the fray surrounding the bullies of Goodreads.

Book lists! A guide to the YA romance genre from Kelly Jensen, and a list of trans-friendly books from YALSA. Also, check out this interview with James Dawson on writing gay characters in his books.

This has been a sad week for iconic writers. Poet Seamus Heaney died, as did science fiction iconic author Frederik Pohl, and A.C. Crispin says goodbye as her long fight with cancer draws to a close.


Here’s a great source for finding an appropriate name for your character by year of birth.

Don’t you hate when this happens? A writer gets an email from residents of a town she thought she had made up.

For all you illustrators out there, here are some portfolio tips from SCBWI Midsouth.

We all know how important story openings are. We sweat those first 5 pages like almost nothing else. K.M. Weiland shares 4 pitfalls in story openings; Roz Morris tells us what the reader needs to understand in your opening act; and Julie Anne Lindsey reminds us that the decisions your characters make are only the beginning of the story.

Martina Boone shows us how to use book mapping to organize our story; Penni Russon talks writing in second person POV; and Rebecca Weingarten draws parallels between writers and psychoanalysts.

Ash Krafton enlightens us on writing and the rule of three;  Lea Nolan tells us how to write a sequel without losing your mind; and James Scott Bell tells us two things every novel needs.

When you’re done writing, Sarah Kolb-Williams helps your book shine with simple self-editing tips.

Every genre has its own rules. Emma Brockes explains what to share when writing memoir; Sophie Novak shares 3 tips for writing modern allegorical novels; and Roy Peter Clark lists 25 writing tips for writing short and snappy.

Fear and despair often go hand-in-hand in the writing life. Tom Pollock demonstrates that the fear never gets any easier but it’s worth it; Gwenda Bond talks about surviving writerly despair when your story just won’t come together; and Rachelle Gardner lists 9 reasons you really should give up on publishing.

Creativity is personal. Jami Gold reminds us that there is no single “right” way to write; Cynthia Lindeman talks about the creative delusion and why we must protect it at all costs; and Birgitte Rasince discusses the powerful relationship between music and your Muse.

So what’s the key to success these days? Lisa and Laura Roeker say that one big key to success is simply finishing your work. And to all those wishing for the good old days of publishing, Kristen Lamb says that the good old days weren’t so good and today’s digital age is awesome for authors.


Amazon US has a new program: Kindle MatchBook. Under this program, if you bought a print book from Amazon anytime, you are eligible for getting the ebook for a much-discounted price. Amazon’s new Kindle Paperwhite also integrates Goodreads.

In the self-publishing world, Molly Greene and several other authors and industry professionals discuss how indie authors can improve the industry as a whole.

For traditional publishing, you’ll need a query that works. And agent Roz Foster of Sandra Dijkstra is seeking new clients.

Specifically for you sci-fi writers, check out the 7 most common misconceptions about science fiction publishing.

No matter what branch of publishing you are pursuing, Kristen Lamb talks individuality, micro-trends, and what those mean to the modern author.

Social media is everywhere. Jonathan Gunson explains the single most effective way for authors to use social media, while Lisa Hall-Wilson explores the new Facebook embed feature and why it’s awesome for bloggers.

How are you supporting your writing dream? Justine Schofield shows how to find out if crowdfunding is the right financing option for you. And if you get royalties, here are some royalty statement basics.


Here are 13 children’s book quotes every adult should know.

We think we are so creative in our language usage, but here are some modern phrases we owe to Shakespeare.

In another smackdown of our modernity, our ultra-modern @ symbol turns out to have been invented by monks hundreds of years ago.

Happy 15th Anniversary, Harry! J.K. Rowling talks about the 15th anniversary of Harry Potter.

In a podcast from the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, hear about J.R.R. Tolkein’s life and the story of his celebrated books.

That’s it for us this week!


  1. Thanks for linking to my post on Jane Friedman’s blog! So glad you enjoyed it.


    • You’re welcome! We’re seeing you everywhere right now, and every post we learn something new.


  2. Thanks so much for the shout (and sorry I didn’t see this earlier) and for a great list of resources!


    • You’re welcome! Self-editing is one of the hardest things to learn to do, so good tips are always appreciated!


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