Posted by: Kerry Gans | March 20, 2014

Top Picks Thursday 03-20-2014

Welcome to the first day of Spring!

Authors were all abuzz about Amtrak’s Writer’s Residency program–until they read the fine print. Victoria Strauss details the rights concerns of the Amtrak Residency and suggests fixes for Amtrak’s contracts.

Porter Anderson explores the possibility that there might be 2 separate readerships emerging, and what this might mean for self vs. traditional competition.

Albert Einstein on fairy tales and education.

Sarah Stevenson brings us a list of 10 girls in YA and MG who kick ass with their brains.

L.J. Sellers discusses an article linking creativity and dishonesty.


Whether you are a pantser or a plotter, James Scott Bell’s method of writing from the middle of your novel can work for you. Meanwhile, Philip Overby discusses how to decide if you should write a fantasy trilogy. Or you can go the other way and write short, with Lyn Horner’s 10 tips for writing a short story.

Choose your words with care: Roz Morris warns that synonyms can be dangerous, this awesome chart helps you find the right emotion word, Mary Buckham tells us about active setting and why it matters, and Emily Pennachio explains what the Zhong is and how it can help you write better novels.

Details matter. Fiona Quinn schools us on shotguns and rifles, and John Kenny teaches us about fire and smoke. But sometimes you can have too much detail. Graham Milne tells us not to explain away the magic in your story.

Characters and their change are at the heart of our works. K.M. Weiland examines the importance of the Normal World to character arc; C.S. Lakin explores the sensitive passionate character; and Michelle Browne discusses how to wound your character without boring your audience.

There’s no getting around it–editing is essential to creating a great story. Molly Greene gives us a manuscript proof checklist to help you save money; Jami Gold shares how to use MS Word macros to edit and polish; Mohr Editing discusses what publishing industry changes mean for editors; and learn why Brick Lane Publishing loves editing.

We all experience “encroachment,” as Robin LaFevers calls it–demands on our writing time from family, friends, and other outside sources. Jami Gold chimes in with how to find balance through playing hooky.

We all feel like giving up sometimes. Laura Tabor outlines 8 lousy reasons to quit writing. Jami Deise talks about bad writing advice–particularly “write what you love.”

Inspiration is essential to our profession. Elissa Lauren Field compiles quirky research sources for writers to help fuel your passion, Joy Lanzendorfer shares 5 writing lessons inspired by famous writers, and Lindsay Buroker shows how to write faster and break the 10,000 word a day barrier.


Writing is an art, but publishing is a business. Nina Amir outlines how to create a map to successful authorship. As a business, price point of our books is important. Porter Anderson discusses if authors have lowballed themselves in book pricing.

For those going traditional, you still need an agent. Agent Pamela Van Hylckama Vlieg discusses the changing role of agents in the new digital world; agent Janet Reid answers the question: do you still need an agent if a small press wants your book?; agent Jen Karsbaek has some query pointers; and Stina Lindenblatt lists 5 ways to land an agent.

So you wanna be a hybrid? Here’s Delilah Dawson’s experience jumping to indie with a pseudonym.

Your author website is your online hub. Darcy Pattison outlines what your News Page should have to keep readers coming back for more.

Google+ is a growing social network. Ann Smarty discusses Google+ hashtags, and Rebekah Radice shares how to increase your Google+ engagement.

We all know we need to be our own marketers these days. Jeff Goins tells us how to build a killer tribe, while Austin Kleon has 6 tips for getting your work discovered.


These works of art on the edges of book pages are incredible.

Check out this interactive map, overlaying detailed Victorian maps onto modern London. Great for historical research!

Is this photo actually of the Brontë Sisters?

Wondering about The Hobbit cliffhangers? Screenwriter Philippa Boyd explains the cliffhangers and splitting up the travelers.

That’s it for us this week!


  1. Thanks for including my list of Quirky Resources for Writers in this great list of writing resources.


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