Posted by: Kerry Gans | November 21, 2013

Top Picks Thursday 11-21-2013

Welcome to this week’s links! Are you still NaNo-ing? Chuck Wendig has something to say to NaNo haters.

Two notable writers passed away this week. Nobel Prize winner Doris Lessing died at age 94, and Junie B. Jones creator Barbara Park died of cancer at age 66.

In a decision that will impact every author, Google wins its Google Books scanning case. An appeal is expected.

Susan Dennard’s plea to stop pirating books.

Most writers were voracious readers as children. Carlos Cooper examines how childhood reading shapes what we write.

There is so much discussion, always, around children and reading and children’s literature. Anne Ursu discusses gender and boys reading panels at conferences; Kelly Jensen tackles the myth of girl likability in YA and how it translates into the real world; and Matt de la Peña shares a poignant story about the power of reading and the “tough teen.” 

We hear a great deal about the need for diversity in children’s books, but we don’t often hear about the difficulties faced by female authors—and some of the things they experience are horrific. Death threats, rape threats, violent language, and hate mail. This week, Sarah Rees Brennan and Malinda Lo speak out about sexism and self-promotion, while Maureen Johnson adds some perks of being a female writer—as well as confirming the prevalent sexism in the writing world.


We all want to write a fantastic book, right? K.M. Weiland shares the top 25 ways to write an awesome book; Kelsey Browning lists 8 tips for s successful co-writing partnership; and Jill Kemerer tells us how to stay motivated to hit your word count.

Then there are the myriad techniques that make up a well-written book. Jodie Renner reminds us not to stop the action to introduce each character; J. Nelson Leith discusses the Hero archetype; Amanda Bumgarner lists 3 pitfalls of foreshadowing; and Victoria Gefer examines how much description is just the right amount.

Character is also key, of course. Monica M. Clark explains how to write a character that is nothing like you; Angela Ackerman explains why picking the right flaws is key to creating complex characters; and Jami Gold explores using conflict to understand character.

We all know how many roadblocks we encounter on our writing journey. Anne R. Allen asks: are your friends and family sabotaging your writing dreams?; Lauren Sapala lays out one simple method for clearing your way to writing success; and Darcie Connell shares 6 tools that stop computer distractions and help you stay on task.

Courtney Summers lists some simple but important writing tips, while Chuck Wendig answers an email seeking advice about a career in writing and publishing.

Daniel Menaker explores the insanity in publishing, and 20 book editors share behind-the-scenes stories on meaningful children’s book projects.


Jane Friedman updates her key publishing paths infographic, identifying the 4 paths to publishing open to authors today; Mike Shatzkin on what traditional publishers need to do to compete with self-publishing; in self-publishing, Bowker named Smashwords as the biggest fish in the indie ebook publishing pond; and Janet Reid rethinks the importance of knowing someone in order to get published.

Much of marketing falls onto authors these days. Jane Friedman gives a lesson in Book Marketing 101; M.J. Rose and Randy Susan Meyers explain the difference between marketing and publicity; Rachelle Gardner lists 12 mistakes authors make in connecting with readers; Stephanie Chandler shows us how to create a great marketing plan for your non-fiction book; and Colleen Gleason explores getting the right fit for your book cover.

Looking for an agent? Jane Lebak tackles the plight of a prolific author facing different agents wanting different manuscripts. How to choose? Richard Ellis Preston, Jr. shares the story behind how he found his agent. And Susan Spann explores how writers get book deals and what goes into them.

Catherine Ryan Howard answers the question: what’s the point of a blog?, while Joel Friedlander explains how to find and rate the top blogs in your genre or area of specialty.

Marcy Kennedy shares 4 ways Google communities help authors build platform; Joel Friedlander explains how an email list fosters reader engagement; and Frances Caballo tells us how to manage your author marketing platform with 4 easy steps.


The Oxford English Dictionary is evolving its role in the English language.

Check out these 14 literary hotels, so you can book into one next time you travel.

Something so cool—scientists reveal ancient texts beneath Medieval manuscripts.

That’s all for this week!

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