Posted by: Kerry Gans | October 31, 2013

Top Picks Thursday 10-31-2013

Happy Halloween! And to get you in the mood: 10 novels that will scare the hell out of you.

Nobel Laureate Alice Munro contemplates coming out of retirement, and the late Seamus Heaney’s last poem has been published.

Book awards! The 5 finalists for the 2013 National Book Award are announced; YALSA’s Teen Top 10 are announced; and Teen Librarian Toolbox has a fascinating look at a statistical profile of today’s diverse teens.

Second Time Around Used Books is keeping literature alive in a California town; MENSA’s Top Ten Banned Books; and Porter Anderson takes a look at the future with “webby” books.


Are you ready for the NaNoWriMo marathon? Jo Malby provides links, resources, and articles for NaNoWriMo prep. On the other end of the spectrum, is flash fiction. Maryann Yin looks at how Twitter has shaped storytelling, and how Jennifer Egan, Elliott Holt, and others have used the new medium.

Since pretty much every plot idea has been written before, it’s sometimes hard to keep things feeling original. Janice Hardy tells us how to keep goals and motivations fresh, while Meg Gardiner gives tips for writing good chase scenes.

Jami Gold shows us how to avoid a sagging middle in our stories, and Kristen Lamb explains how to deliver that knockout ending.

As writers, we are always learning. Margi Preus shares 9 things we can learn from other writers, while Robin Wasserman examines why Stephen King novels hold such fascination for the YA crowd even though they are not YA.
Productivity is key to success in today’s market. Alythia Brown tells us how to beat writer’s block by clearing the chaos in our lives; Julia Gifford proves that standing desks create better productivity; and K.M. Weiland shares 3 signs that it’s time to give up on our story.

Take a peek into the lives of writers who actually live off of their writing. Chuck Wendig shares the joy and fear of being the sole breadwinner as a writer, while Lionel Shriver shows us the hectic promotional calendar that comes with success—and leaves little time for writing.

So much of writing success is mental fortitude. Leila Austin talks about dealing with the gap between what’s in our heads and what we actually write; Antony Johnston brings home the importance of finishing what you start; Kate Brauning discusses whether you should self-publish that first manuscript or move on; and Dr. Noa Kageyama shows us how to compare ourselves to other people without getting depressed.

Really, what it comes down to is commitment. Kristi Holl lists 3 questions you must say yes to in order to really be a committed writer, and Harold Underdown shares the daunting odds of getting published—and why we shouldn’t care.

The sea change that is digital continues to give rise to new opportunities. First, there are independent ebook sellers; second, you have book packagers and literary development companies; and third, there are now ebook subscription services. But it’s not all digital: in France, a law could keep Amazon at bay and help keep their independent bookstores thriving.

Agent Janet Reid answers the question “how good is good enough?” for your submitted manuscript. Juliet Mushens of The Agency Group has dos and don’ts for submitting to agents. And Connor Goldsmith of Lowenstein Associates seeks sci-fi, fantasy, thrillers, LGBT, literary fiction, and non-fiction.


Meet 10 of the most powerful female characters in literature.

Also meet 20 books that are almost impossible to adapt.

If you are researching old London (or just love history), wander down Pudding Lane in this virtual version of 17th century London before the Great Fire, made by university students.

What did people do to take notes before paper was ubiquitous and cheap? They used a Medieval iPad! This one also happens to be a thousand-year-old time capsule.

That’s all for this week–and for October! Have safe and fun Trick or Treating, everyone!

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