Posted by: Kerry Gans | January 16, 2014

Top Picks Thursday 01-16-2014

Welcome to another week in link-land!

We all have goals for 2014. Elizabeth Spann Craig tells us how to meet our writing goals in 2014; Jordan Rosenfeld urges us to clean the slate by finishing an old writing project; and Reference For Writers has a fantastic writing infographic for those wanting to get published.

We’ve talked in previous posts about the new ebook subscription services, and if they are of any use to authors. This week, Michael Capobianco calls out one of these services, Scribd, for using pirated content on their service. Scribd’s vice president Andrew Weinstein responds to Capobianco’s assertions and describes what they are doing to stop the pirating.

Bone up on your grammar with these amusing Fumblerules of Grammar compiled by William Safire.

These photos, taken in the heart of Grimm fairy tale land by Kilian Schönberger, are breathtaking and spark the imagination.


For our romance writers, read Chrys Fey’s top 10 tips on how to write Romance. Our fantasy writers, take note of Danie Ware’s top 10 tips for writing combat in fantasy.

For world-building, J.S. Morin has city-mapping, to help visualize your town. Meanwhile, Max Gladstone discusses interactive fiction and outlining.

Intimidated by the first draft? Go down and dirty with a skeleton draft.

The first chapter is the most crucial part of hooking readers. Tessa Shapcott has tips for writing a great first romance chapter (but the tips apply to many genres), while Moody Writing focuses on the one essential thing a first chapter must show the reader.

Clayton Lindermuth addresses story tension and keeping the reader uncertain; Kristen Lamb has tips to maximize conflict in your novel; and Victoria Grefer discusses how to make shocks and surprises work.

As for the nuances, take a look at passive voice and how to avoid it, delve into the ongoing Oxford comma debate, and use colors to add symbolic meaning to your writing.

Multifaceted characters are the backbone of a great story. Becca Puglisi examines how morals and basic needs influence a character’s positive traits. Roz Morris reminds us not to fall into the flat “everyman” character trap.

Dell Smith advises how to write outside your generation, and if in the end you absolutely MUST kill off a character, use K.M. Weiland’s checklist to kill your character successfully.

Revision is essential. Nancy J. Cavanaugh has 6 revision tips for writers; Nat Russo shares part 1 of his personal revision checklist; and Shane Arthur lists 7 simple edits that make your writing 100% more powerful.

Before you send your work to a paid editor, you should make it as clean as possible. Jon Negroni’s 11 tips for editing your own writing will help, as will Bernadine Racoma’s post on the difficulty of proofreading your own work, and how to work through it. Once it’s as clean as you can get it, hire your professional editor. Shay Goodman shares 5 things you should ask your potential editor, to ensure a good fit.

Many writers work from home and juggle raising a family with writing time. Joelle Steiniger tells us how to work from home better, and Elizabeth Spann Craig shares tips for writing in short blocks of time.

The writing doesn’t always flow, and every writer has weaknesses in their craft. Andre Cruz lists 5 writing prompts to break your writer’s block; Nicolas Gremion pinpoints the 7 people who will help you fire up your writing; and Janice Gable Bashman shares 4 things every writer needs.

L.Z. Marie has 21 rules for writers, and Betty G. Birney reminds us that we always need to challenge ourselves.

So much of writing success is emotional fortitude. Beth Kephart talks about learning humility; Jill Jepson advises practicing patience in the writing life; and Jessica Spotswood shares how to manage expectations after you’ve been published.

Ever wonder how you win a MacArthur Genius grant? George Saunders tells Salon the secret of his success.

Want more advice? Check out this useful list of Top 10 Blogs for Writers.


While Amazon seems to be grabbing up more and more of the book market, Randall White, CEO of publisher Educational Development Corp (EDC), explained what happened to his business after cutting ties with Amazon.

Self-published authors, heed these 4 common misconceptions about self-publishing authors need to shake, and bookmark these 5 sites every self-publishing writer should follow. Or, join forces with other self-publishers, as Jordan Rosenfeld suggests.

Publishing takes many forms today. Sarah Werner points out that the line between digital and print blurs more and more every day, and Delilah S. Dawson reveals 25 damned dirty lies about publishing.

Platform-building is necessary and time-consuming. Hannah Rosefield wonders if authors should be interviewed at all, while Savvy Book Writers shares 11 ways to create web content without writing. But more important than anything else, Rachelle Gardner reminds us we have to write a great book. Without a great book, the rest doesn’t matter.


How did Mark Twain’s first short story become the breakout hit of 1865?

James Joyce died 73 years ago on 13 January 1941.

Historical research is easier than ever with the Internet. Vanessa Harding highlights a valuable ad often overlooked resource: British History Online. M.P. Barker shares a project from DeMontford University, where they are creating a virtual 17th century London in 3D.

Online research is great, but sometimes the greatest discoveries are made by happy accident. Ask Nora Crook, a professor who found a cache of Mary Shelley’s letters in a place no one would have ever thought to look.

How fun is this? The Hobbit cast dramatically reads Leonard Nemoy’s “The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins”.

Speaking of books to movies, here are 16 books to read before they hit theaters this year.

Find all these books at bookstores, such as these 11 with great bookstore names. Or go to your local library–which replaced early circulating libraries, like the one Jane Austen patronized.

Apparently, Medieval manuscripts and cats had a love/hate relationship.

Are you a Cinderella fan? This webpage has everything you ever wanted to know about Cinderella, and more. Check out the Cinderella bibliography (including movies and other various media).

That’s all for us this week!

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