Posted by: Kerry Gans | October 17, 2013

Top Picks Thursday 10-17-2013

Welcome to this week’s link roundup! It’s already halfway through October–are you ready for Halloween yet?

We talk a lot about the role of authors these days, and all the different hats we are forced to wear to be successful. Jane Friedman takes a thoughtful look at the evolution of the “author” and contemplates if the idea of the author is facing extinction.

Meanwhile, one of the necessities of being an author today is being on social media. As many authors have discovered, the Internet can be a hostile place. Anne R. Allen has a long but great post featuring 8 rules to keep yourself and your career safe in the Internet jungle.

In courtroom-related news, a class action suit has been filed against Author Solutions. Also, Hachette is suing Stephen Baldwin for not delivering his book on deadline.

Got a kid who likes to write plays? Check out the Writopia Worldwide Plays Festival Competition for grades 1-12.

If you, like us, are a fan of The Bookshelf Muse blog, home of the Emotion Thesaurus, please visit them at their NEW home: Writers Helping Writers. Along with their multiple thesaurus databases, they have numerous resources for writers.

What makes a great book? The School Library Journal holds a fascinating discussion on what makes a book Newbery-worthy.

If you’ve ever imagined living in a writer’s Mecca, move to Iceland. 1 in 10 people in Iceland will publish a book. Can you have too much of a good thing?

As the storm of publishing change settles down just a little, owning an indie bookstore has become the new fantasy career–but it is not for the faint of heart.

And since NaNoWriMo is coming up, the advice on how to survive it keeps coming. Chuck Wendig has a NaNoWriMo prep school on his blog, and James Scott Bell tells you how to supercharge your NaNoWriMo novel with one simple exercise (which works for non-NaNo novels, too!).


Writing is often frustrating in its subjectivity. One person will love what you wrote, another says it’s no good. We work and work to improve our craft, but are we getting anywhere? Janice Hardy answers the question: how do you know if you writing is getting better? Agent Tamela Hancock Murray tackles the equally tough question: Are you ready to be a pro?

One seemingly counter-intuitive yardstick for improvement (and professionalism) is the one-star review. Hugh O. Smith explains how smart writers deal with one-star reviews.

There are so many little things you can improve, once you’ve mastered the larger writing structures. C.S. Lakin tackles the often-confusing issue of using singular verbs correctly (even when they sound wrong); Mark Nichol tells us how to avoid awkward references to numbers; James Hall delves into when and how to use symbolism; K.M. Weiland wants us to benefit from the intimacy of pronouns; and David Marsh has 10 grammar rules you can forget.

There is no getting around the importance of compelling, complex characters in your writing. K.M. Weiland suggests a way to improve your character instantly: just add a ghost. Character voice is a vital part of capturing a reader, but their voice is irrevocably tied to the writer’s voice. Chila Woychik lists 7 ways to develop a stronger writing voice. Getting characters talking draws in the reader; getting the character wet can be fraught with symbolism; and Charlie Jane Anders has 10 ways to make readers root for your amoral protagonist.

Editing is a must for a good book. Rachelle Gardner shows how to edit out thousands of words easily, and The Write Life has a checklist of 25 editing tips for tightening your copy.

Professional authors often don’t have the luxury of working uninterrupted on one project from start to finish. They often jump from project to project, all in different stages of development. Stephanie Kuehn shares some tips on how to get back into a project you’ve been away from for a while.

Jennifer McMahon shares 7 tips on how to write a novel; Brian A. Klems has 6 secrets of writing a novel without an outline; and Melanie Milburne explains how to write a best-selling romance, but many of the tips can be used in all genres.

Karina Cooper describes what to do once you’ve submitted your book, and Mridu Khullar Relph shares how to find 5 additional hours in the work week.

Kim Triedman explores how the mindset of a middle-age debut author differs from a young person’s, while Darlene Jones reminds us that what shines in our work is our passion–so be passionate about your writing.

Jim Dean tackles the tough question: can YA contemporary ever be too dark?, and Jon Scalzi lists sci-fi and fantasy books that were important to him before he became a sci-fi author.

The best writing advice often comes from the mouths of the top writers themselves. Check out Forbes’ interview with Elizabeth Gilbert, and what all writers can learn from her; NPR’s interview with William Boyd, new James Bond writer, who claims that spies and novelists are both accomplished liars; Pulitzer Prize winner Paul Harding weighing in on print vs. ebook; and Nobel Laureate Alice Munro on the secret of what makes a story great.


Self-published authors should check out Smashword’s Mark Coker’s presentation about getting the most out of Apple’s iBookstore. Meanwhile, Rachel Thompson takes a hard look at how much an indie author can realistically make.

If you’re searching for an independent press to take on your work, Flavorwire has put together a list of 25 Independent Presses That Prove This Is the Golden Age of Indie Publishing. See if any seem a good fit for you. And if you are submitting picture books, check out the standard rules for submitting picture book manuscripts with or without illustrations.

If you freelance, you need to be professional to be taken seriously. Carrie Smith walks us through how to create a professional invoice that will get you paid. Sometimes you can be professional, write for a major blog, and even be a Doctor in your field, and still not be taken seriously. When Dr. Danielle N. Lee politely turned down an offer to guest blog for free, the editor called her an “urban whore.” Things spiraled into weirdness from there.

Some people question why authors need agents in this new age of publishing. Agent Lucienne Diver explains the role of agents in the modern publishing landscape. Speaking of agents, Anna Olswanger of Liza Dawson Associates puts out a call for new submissions.

At a loss for what to write on your blog that will engage people? Finding a common theme in your writing is a great place to start engaging your audience. Similarly confused about building a mailing list? Jeff Cohen explains how to avoid giant resume syndrome.


Whatever state you’re from, there’s a book set there. The Business Insider has put together a map detailing the most famous book set in every state. Have you read the one set in yours?

11 enlightening little-known facts about Edgar Allen Poe.

You never know what you’re going to find in a dusty box from the attic. A museum unearths a rare Charles Dickens newspaper in a long-stored box of donations.

We all know books are magic, or we wouldn’t be writers. The Bodleian Library exhibits Magical Books from the Middle Ages to Middle-Earth, including J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter copy.

That’s all for us this week!


  1. Thanks for this – I saw the blog on the Amoral hero earlier, but forgot to save it…thought I’d lost it!


    • Glad we could help! That was a very interesting blog post.


  2. Thank you for the mention! 🙂


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