Posted by: Kerry Gans | March 6, 2014

Top Picks Thursday 03-06-2014

Welcome to this week’s link round-up! March came in a like a lion around here, with yet another snowfall and sub-freezing temperatures. 

The $45,000 Philip Seymour Hoffman literary prize for screenwriters has been announced–funded by a libel settlement against a newspaper.

This week, two articles addressed the institutionalized gender disparity in the type of genres reviewed and who writes the reviews: Highbrow Media’s Sexist Blind Spot: Romance Novels and When It Comes to Women’s Writing, How Do Publications Stack Up?

Sarah Rees Brennan examines the vitriol and accusations hurled at her by fan fiction reader/writers–all because she used to be one of them and she’s a woman. Jennifer Lynn Barnes gives a fascinating postscript, exploring the psychology of fandom, parasocial relationships, and what we don’t know about people.

Speaking of gender bias, an article purporting to promote YA literature had the opposite effect with it touched off a discussion about stereotype and dismissiveness when readers took exception to the offensive tone of the author.

YA mega-author John Green’s latest book was central to the above article (and ensuing discussion), and here is his brother Hank in an amusing rant about books and publishing from the popular VlogBrothers.


Where we write is an important part of our writing process. Suzanne Murray discusses having a place to write, and Laura Carlin and Alison Forbes tell us how to create an inspirational workspace for writing.

Once we’re in our writing space, we need to contemplate things such as word count for novels and children’s books, and try to avoid these 10 common writing mistakes (aimed at blog writing, but good tips for writing in general).

Okay, now we’re writing! Liz Bureman asks: are you a prescriptivist or a descriptivist when it comes to grammar?; Janice Hardy tells us when to add a scene break; Shannon Donnelly has 10 tips to make your dialogue shine; and Eric Praschan shares how to use our real life fear and pain as a springboard for our story.

As to our characters, Jody Hedlund has 6 key things to consider when developing characters; K.M. Weiland asks: why do your characters believe their Lies?; and Angela Ackerman gives a list of common themes to help us understand character wounds.

After the draft comes the editing. Jami Gold looks at how we can identify a good editor, while Melissa Donovan has tips for accepting critiques and then writing better.

We all have our own writing pace. Anne R. Allen asks: Is there a place for slow writers in a digital age?, while at the same time Evan LePage urges us forward with 5 tips to write blogs faster.

Every writer has his or her own process–but many of us struggle with focus. Frances Caballo shares 10 apps to help stay focused on your writing. Nathan Bransford says you don’t have to write every day; Seth Fishman tells us how to write YA; and K.M. Weiland suggests keeping your writing a secret.

Creativity is something we seek every day. Mary Gaitskill has 6 motives of creativity; did you know we are most creative when groggy?; and 5 successful authors describe how they overcame creative blocks to write their first books.

Love to write but need inspiration to keep going? Lauren Oliver has 6 tips for aspiring writers; Jenny Bravo shares how to be a first-time novelist without going insane; and Kristin Lamb challenges us to suck it up & writer up to prepare for greatness.

We all strive for success. Stacey Aaronson shares the behind-the-scenes ingredients for being a best-selling self-published author; Aubrey Cann see the positive in “why I’m glad my first book didn’t sell”; Kristin Lamb warns us that our subconscious mind might be setting us up for failure; and Joanna Penn encourages us to define success for ourselves and figure out how to measure it.

And no matter what stage of your writing career you are in, always be prepared to answer the question, “What do you write?


If you are seeking a traditional publisher, you almost certainly need an agent. Patrick Ness tells how to go about finding an agent that fits you, while Victoria Strauss shares a link round-up of articles detailing what questions to ask a prospective literary agent.

Meanwhile, agents themselves weigh in with what kind of stories they are specifically seeking, and what would make them stop reading sample pages.

Self-publishers need a whole entrepreneurial set of skills, but many of those can now apply to even traditionally published authors who need to market their own books more and more. Nina Amir shares 8 publishing business necessities every indie author needs; Norm Schriever lists 10 marketing mistakes self-published authors make; and Nina returns with 8 reasons every book needs a business plan to achieve success.

When marketing your book, you can use these 10 last-minute ways authors can promote a book from Kayelle Allen, but Rachel Thompson warns us to beware the dark side of selling books.

These days, marketing means leveraging the Internet. Start with your hub–your author website. Kelli Standish lists 3 steps to building an author website, while Savvy Book Writers have both 5 tips for a successful Google+ presence and 12 ways to distribute your blog posts.


Dead Swedish author Stieg Larsson names his suspect in the assassination of Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme.

So, Lynn Shepherd suggested J.K. Rowling should stick to writing kids’ books instead of taking up space on the adult shelves that could be used by other writers. Mark Pryor takes the opposite stance, begging Rowling to keep writing because creating new readers benefits all writers. You decide which side you come down on.

That’s it for us! See you next week as we continue to search for signs of spring!

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