Posted by: Kerry Gans | December 5, 2013

Top Picks Thursday 12-05-2013

Welcome to December! Christmas craziness is upon us. If you are looking for gifts, Jason Diamond had compiled 2013’s best books to give as gifts.

If you love nonfiction (or just want to expand your horizons), the Morris Nonfiction Challenge begins this week.

As much as we all dislike getting negative reviews, BuzzFeed’s model of posting only positive reviews has draw much…negativity.

Take a peek into the crystal ball with this study on the future of storytelling.

A UK study finds that young adult readers prefer print to ebooks. One reason is that they like to show off the covers of what they’re reading. What about those book covers? Jason Chambers, Jonathan Evison, Dennis Haritou, and Jason Rice share some candid thoughts on book covers and gender bias.

Love your indie bookstore? Check out these 45 great American indie bookstores.

We think of libraries as safe places for knowledge. But in Naples, Italy, rare books have been vanishing from the Girolamini Library–and they believe the former director of that library is at the center of the plot.


All writers start with ideas and research. Roz Morris tells us how to capture the emotional essence of your ideas in your notes, so you remember why you thought they were brilliant, and K.M. Weiland shows how we can do research without even trying.

How many plots are there in the world? Depends on who you ask. Kate Forsyth has compiled a list of the different types of plots in fiction. All plots need conflict, so James Scott Bell shares 5 tools for building conflict into your novel.

Character voice is so vital, yet sometimes so elusive. Lydia Sharp shares Theo Pauline Nestor’s thoughts on finding your voice by writing honestly; K.M. Weiland tells us how to fix weak character voice; James Ziskin shares how to write an opposite-gender POV successfully; and Becca Puglisi gets to the core of character motivation.

Marcy Kennedy explains “as you know, Bob” syndrome in dialogue and how to fix it, while Lisa Hall-Wilson explains the difference between narration and internal dialogue.

Angela Ackerman lists what to do before revising a NaNo novel; Jami Gold has beat sheets to help clean up your NaNo novel; and Ben Huberman shares five storytelling tips; and Roz Morris explains how to develop something special in your writing.

Deadlines can motivate or paralyze us. Moody Writing shares how to use deadlines to get your story finished, while Liza Palmer has 5 tips to help meet your deadline with less stress.

Big guns Jonathan Franzen, Elizabeth Gilbert, and others talk about dealing with self-doubt and self-loathing as part of the writing process; Sue Halpern dishes on being a writer; and crime novelist Laura Lippman discusses genre fiction.

What things really give you an advantage in the writing game? Randy Kraft says age is a writer’s ally; Nephele Tempest lauds the advantages of a daily habit; and Bob Mayer points to patience and self-discipline to succeed as a writer.

Creativity can be finicky. Kristi Holl tells us how to defeat your writing fears; L.Z. Marie tackles the feared Writeritis–but the cure is worse than the disease;YA Highway describes the difference between being dormant and being fallow; Karen Lynn Maher lists 5 fatal blocks to writing and how to stack them in your favor; and Leo Babauta explains how creativity works and how to do it.


The rumors of a brick-and-mortar Amazon have become real…kind of. Amazon has placed pop-up stores in malls, so consumers have somewhere to try out the Kindles prior to buying. As if that isn’t enough, Amazon also unveiled plans for drone delivery service–to which Waterstones responded with a brilliant O.W.L.S. delivery plan.

Joel Friedlander makes the case why writers MUST self-publish their books.

If self-publishing is not for you, agent Janet Reid tells you how to avoid shooting yourself in the foot when an agent is reading your full manuscript. New agent Clelia Gore of Martin Literary Management seeks YA, middle grade, young adult, or picture books.

Last week, it came to light that Amazon was pulling books using keywords they did not approve of using. Penny Sansevieri gets to the bottom of the Amazon keyword kerfuffle, and tells authors how to protect their works from being pulled without notice.

Writer’s Relief shares some tips on how to get published, while Steve Macone has a humorous take on publishing euphemisms.

We talk a lot about how to market books once they’re out there, but can you do anything BEFORE the launch to see how the audience will receive your books? Alistair McGuiness says you can test the key elements of your book before the launch, thereby assuring a better connection to your intended audience. Meanwhile, Myke Cole shares tips on how you can help his (and any author’s) career.


We spoke about the MMORPG Ever Jane in an earlier Top Picks Thursday. Now they have a Kickstarter program to get this role-playing game, and you can be a part of it.

Giorgia Lupi and her team at Accurat created a great visualization of the creative pace of the 20th’s century’s greatest authors.

We always think of reviews as positive or negative. In The Art of the Humorous Amazon Review, Part Deux, we find that they can be funny as well.

Speaking of humor, Improv Everywhere stages a Harry-Potter-Themed prank in New York City.

If you love illuminated manuscripts, look for illuminated manuscripts everywhere.

That’s all for us this week!

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