Posted by: Kerry Gans | December 12, 2013

Top Picks Thursday 12-12-2013

Welcome to this week’s link roundup! Who else is digging out from the big snow? In honor of that, Bob Mayer has his cold weather survival tips.

In sad news, legendary publisher Andre Shiffrin has died.

Time for book lists and awards! YALSA announces the 2014 Morris finalists; the Washington Post picks the top books in fiction, nonfiction, graphic novels and audio books for 2013; Dan Kois collects the 21 Best Lines of 2013; and the Top 10 Apple iBooks.

Access to books is so important to opening minds and changing lives. In San Francisco, iconic Marcus Books, one of the country’s oldest African-American-run bookstores, may be able to stay at its location indefinitely–find out how you can help; U.S. librarians attend the Guadalajara International Book Fair, the largest Spanish-speaking book fair in the world; and read this heartwarming story about a teacher, an author, and the students they both inspired.

Stirring up a hornet’s nest, Jonathan Myerson defends Kent University’s assertion that children’s literature is not great literature–and that’s okay.

Since Christmas is just around the corner, here are 24 children’s books to help count down the days to Christmas, and Nosy Crow wonders which families from children’s books would you HATE to spend Christmas with?

Check out our UNIQUE SHELF section below for great Christmas gift ideas for writers!


Every story has a beginning, middle, and end. Chuck Sambuchino rounds up advice from literary agents on the worst ways to begin your novel; author Tammar Stein advises letting your readers in on the plot early; James Scott Bell weighs in on how many subplots is too many; and Brett Ballou suggests conquering that often-difficult middle by skipping it entirely and tesseracting to the end.

Now you’ve got the plot, but what about the characters? Scott D. Southard reminds us of the importance of secondary characters, Linda Holmes dissects the upside-down gender-roles in the Hunger Games movies, and Becca Puglisi shows how positive attributes are the way to a reader’s heart.

Take a look at all these other aspects of writing, too. L.Z. Marie discusses symbols; Charlie Jane Anders tells how to write descriptive passages without boring yourself or your readers; Kelly Lynne describes how to use dialogue to show not tell; and learn the difference between principal and principle.

College Humor debuts 8 new punctuation marks we desperately need; and Isaac Fitzgerald has a fun infographic that tells you if your novel is really, truly finished.

The draft is finished! Now what? Kristin Lamb shares 3 tactics to get unstuck when revising; Michele Jakubowski says feedback from your target audience is vital, while Suzanne van Rooyen discusses what to do when an agent asks you to revise and resubmit.

The great thing about writers is that they share the lessons they have learned, so those of us following don’t have to make the same mistakes they did or reinvent the wheel. Robin LaFevers has 18 tips to getting words on the page; Delilah S. Dawson lists 11 ways to level up your writing; Victoria Grefer shares 3 things authors overlook when writing fiction; Jessica Spotswood shines a light on writing YA romance; and Joanna Penn explains how to write and launch a thriller.

Victoria Grefer describes 7 types of readers to consider when writing; Nephele Tempest reminds us that there is no such thing as perfect; Pauline Francis has tips for writing novels; and K.M. Weiland lists 8 signs your writing is stuck in a rut.

Creativity is often lauded, so why do creative people have such a hard time in society? According to Jessica Olien, it’s because people actually don’t like creativity, in spite of what they say.

We creatives often have trouble with organization, but never fear! Bryan Cohen tells us how to think away writing distractions, while Roz Morris shares how to get organized when you wear a lot of hats.


In a move to help independent bookstores, Quebec limits discounts on books sold in the province; what will Amazon’s Australian Kindle store mean for readers, writers, and publishers?; and a look at the booming middle-grade book market.

Agent Julia A. Weber discusses whether or not you need an agent, and agent Janet Reid tells us how long to wait for an answer once an agent has your full.

In this age of self-publishing, there are a lot of options for author besides the traditional route. Author C.J. Lyons explains why she became a hybrid author, and the benefits of being in both worlds, while Joel Friedlander explores the future of expert authors in this age when publishing fast is often a key to success.

No matter which road you take, once you’ve got your book in hand, you need to market it. Angela Ackerman outlines a 7-step business plan for writers; Anne R. Allen breaks down the secret to writing a sizzling synopsis, hook, logline, and pitch; Sean Platt and Jonny B. Truant highlight 4 ways to find readers who will love your work; Kristin Lamb has us answer the marketing question: what makes you so special?; Nina Amir has 4 branding tips for non-fiction authors; and Bob Baker says an often-overlooked way to sell your book is to ASK.


Extra! Extra! The Vatican and Bodleian libraries launch an online archive of ancient religious texts

Speaking of libraries, here are the most important libraries in the world.

Ever experience these 20 things that happen when you’re a book nerd?

Christmas is coming! For procrastinators, check out these gift ideas: 5 holiday gift ideas for the grammar guru, Christmas gifts for writers for every part of the writing process, and this ultimate gift guide for writers.

That’s all for us this week!

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