Posted by: Kerry Gans | February 13, 2014

Top Picks Thursday 02-13-2014

And Snowmageddon continues in our area of the country. We are hoping the all those whose power just got restored a day or two ago do not lose it again–including our own Nancy Keim Comley, who was without power for 6 days.

Want to get away? How about a writing conference? Not everyone can afford the expense or time of a writing conference–so how about an online alternative? Cheaper, no travel, and you can fit it around your schedule. One to check out is WANACon, coming up soon.

The latest Internet showdown between traditional publishing and self-publishing featured Donald Maass vs. Joe Konrath and Barry Eisler. Maass wrote a post about the new class system of publishing, and Konrath and Eisler countered Maass’ assertions.


Whether we pants or plot, we have to make decisions about where our story is headed. K.M. Weiland tells us how to make the right decisions for your novel, while Jami Gold explains how to make turning points drive arcs and themes.

Every word counts. Mary Kole shows how to make “blah” words meaningful; L.Z. Marie explores the use of symbolic geometry in your story; Liz Bureman talks about synesthesia in literature; and Victoria Grefer examines the implied author: what it is and why it matters.

Creating unforgettable characters can sometimes seem as mysterious as alchemy. K.M. Weiland suggests that we can structure character just like plot–that they are, in fact, one and the same. Moody Writing tells us how to lift characters off the page, and Wendi Silvano has tips for writing character-driven picture books.

Our characters feel emotion, of course. Angela Ackerman shows how to write extreme emotion without falling into melodrama. Brian DeLeonard shares 5 tips for creating epic fantasy romance.

When you’re revising, it often seems overwhelming. Jami Gold tells us how to fix big problems with small changes, and Harrison Demchick shares a writer’s secret weapon: gut feelings.

It takes a lot to become a writer. Craig Stone posts an infographic on how to become an expert writer; Janine Savage tells us how to find a writing critique group; Kristen Lamb explores the journey from aspiring dreamer to hardened professional author; Sheena Brady examines how to write what you know when you don’t know anything, and Jody Hedlund talks about the value of clocking in time and words.

There are many different ways to spur our creativity. Nostalgia can be a trigger, as Natalia Sylvester writes about first loves and lost letters. Megan Cooley Peterson says letting go of the illusion of control can help. Steven James tells us how to pump up your creativity, and Jane Porter explains 5 ways we neglect our creativity–and how to get it back.


Sony shuts its ebook store, and what it means.

A big issue in the self-publishing vs. traditional publishing debate is the lack of hard data. Hugh Howey is trying to change that by gathering transparent hard data on self-publishing vs. traditional publishing on the website Although this initial offering is from only one source, only focuses on ebooks, and only deals with specific genres, it is the beginning of a much larger project to gather the hard data authors need to make the best decisions for their publishing paths.

On occasion, we will hear of books still in copyright that have been declared “orphaned,” meaning the legal copyright holder cannot be found. When a work is orphaned, it allows others to use that work as if it was in public domain. Unfortunately, there is no easy process for finding the copyright holder for some works, especially in foreign countries, thereby allowing unscrupulous people to claim they did a rigorous search for a copyright holder when in fact they did not, and then gaining rights or access to a work still in copyright. Several “authorities” are trying to change this by creating databases of authors and works that will be centralized and easily accessed. Mike Capobianco investigates the promise and problems of one such authority: the International Standard Name Identifier (ISNI).

You’ve got a book out or coming out–congratulations! Are you ready for some selling? Doris-Maria Heilmann lays out a marketing plan for your book; Penny Sansevieri tells us how to sell your book from your own website; Jessica Lawlor shows us how to promote your work online; and Amie Kaufman shares 7 steps to a successful signing.

Promotion online is necessary, but there are right and wrong ways to go about it. Angela Ackerman shares how to use DMs on Twitter the right way; Kate Tilton lists 4 easy steps to grow your Twitter following; and Sarah Pinneo has tips from Barb Drozdowich’s ebook The Author’s Guide to Working With Book Bloggers.


Marion Grace Woolley has solved the there, their, they’re problem once and for all.

That’s all for us! Stay safe and warm!


  1. Yes, all good stuff. Hugh Howey’s post got so many look-sees his site crashed there for a while. Personally, I think Donald M’s “class system” post was too simplistic and rather arrogant. Just sayin’.


    • Yes, it was simplistic (nothing in life is that simple), and the tone was a bit over-the-top. I wonder if he meant the tone to be more humorous and it came across as arrogant instead? Anyway, it got a great discussion going!


  2. Thanks for all the shout outs! And yes, that Donald M’s post certainly got the discussion going. I’m not sure the discussion centered on the issues he was trying to highlight though. 😉


    • Probably not! Part of me thinks his post was semi-tongue-in-cheek and simply came over as arrogant because humor doesn’t always translate well on the web. But honest discussion is always a good thing.


  3. Thank you so much for sharing my Twitter article!


    • You’re welcome! Keep the good advice coming!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Will do! 🙂


  4. Thanks very much for sharing a link to my Writer’s Bucket List post! Much appreciated.


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