Posted by: Kerry Gans | April 24, 2014

Top Picks Thursday 04-24-2014

It’s the last links round-up in April!

In sad news, a couple of writers have passed away recently. Sue Townsend, author of the Adrian Mole books, has died. Also, Nobel Prize-winning author Gabriel García Márquez died at age 87. You can find all Márquez’s pieces from The New Yorker here.

In awards news, the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction goes to Donna Taratt’s novel The Goldfinch, and ALA unveils the shortlist for the 2014 Andrew Carnegie Medals.

According to a UNESCO report, 40% of the world’s school age children cannot read.

Libraries are the repositories of much knowledge. A recent conference discussed the future of digital library collections, the Bodleian Libraries are well on their way to digitization of their collections, local libraries in New Jersey are becoming community anchors with Makerspace initiatives, and Deimosa Webber-Bey discusses the role of library and librarian in verse.

Diversity in literature is a hot topic today. Kelly Jensen discusses gender and diversity in YA lit, Lisa Schroeder talks about her fear of writing outside her cultural norm, Kate Messner explores how the messages we inadvertently send to publishers keeps diversity down, and teacher Mrs. Andersen polls her female students to find out: are girls seeing themselves reflected in what they read?

Book banning often squelches diversity. Check out the ALA list of Most Challenged Books.

Ever wonder how this weird business of being paid to write came about? Jane Friedman explores how professional authorship evolved.

Most of the time our blog talks about novels and short stories, but how about the world of writing for video games? Simon Parkin discusses how gaming got killer stories.

In direct refutation of a Washington Post article, Stephen Poole claims that the Internet is NOT harming out love of deep reading, but is cultivating it.

Words have power. John Wareham shows us how poetry alters the lives of prison inmates, and shares some of their powerful verse.


Sometimes in writing it’s the big picture stuff that trips us up. Janice Hardy explains how sometimes your writing can be good but your story itself can be the problem. K.M. Weiland tells us why a good premise doesn’t make a good story. And Janice Hardy returns, asking: Do you know your novel’s theme?

Good plotting is necessary to a strong story. Even pantsers eventually get their plot in shape, they just do it after they write the first draft. For Nina Amir, planning out your book has benefits you cannot do without, and Janice Hardy shows us how to plot using yes or no questions. Stina Lindenblatt takes a look at what the movie Frozen teaches us about storytelling and publishing.

While we can slip up on the big picture items above, the details can cause us just as much angst. Get your action scenes right with these 6 essential tools for writing action from Joe Craig. Get your medical elements perfect by consulting a medical expert. And are you totally sure you’re using these 9 words correctly?

Those pesky characters can also be our undoing. Mary Pletsch tells us how to write characters who are not like us, and Ava Jae shows us how to write a great antagonist.

Editing is out friend. Kristen Lamb lists 5 warning signs that your story needs revisions, while Chuck Wendig channels what it actually feels like to edit.

Does it ever feel like you can’t do everything? That there’s no way to move forward with your writing? That life is squashing the creativity out of you? Alice Hoffman has 5 visualizations to help you write your novel, Chuck Wendig advocates the Big 350 method of writing a novel, Jeff Goins tells us how to chase the writing dream and keep our other life commitments, Shannon Hale explains why she is not an “accessible” author, and Jenn Bertman philosophizes on not giving up on writing when life gets tough.

Roz Morris explores the 3 ages of becoming a writer, Dani Shapiro explains why creativity requires leaping into the unknown, Zadie Smith lists 10 rules of writing, and Ava Jae has advice for new writers.

Knowledge is power in business and in life. Who do you turn to for advice and comfort? Children’s book editor Emma Dryden shares what children’s writers must know to succeed today, Marcus Burke explains why every writer needs two educations, and Tricia Sullivan, when seeking advice, wonders: “Las madrinas, where are you?”


In publishing news, Apple moves for a stay in the ongoing ebook case, and Amazon acquires digital comics vendor Comixology.

Jason Matthews explains why all ebook authors should embrace new technologies, while at the 2014 London Book Fair, traditional publishers are urged to look beyond the book.

Michael J. Sullivan breaks down a typical mid-list author’s print earnings as part 3 of an ongoing series examining where the money is in publishing.

If you are seeking an agent, Adam Muhlig of McIntosh & Otis and J.L. Stermer of N.S. Bienstock are seeking new clients.

If you are looking to strengthen your online platform, Cyrus Shepard has 10 smart tips to leverage Google+, and Anne R. Allen shares 9 tips to entice readers to your author blog.


How cool is this? After more than 80 years, author Eric Carle is reunited with his lost childhood friend.

Speaking of finding lost things: check out these 11 ridiculously overdue library books that were eventually returned! (Now I don’t feel so bad about returning my books a few days late.)

Take a look at these awesome resources for research: British Pathé just released 85,000 films online, and The UK National Archives have digitized the diaries of hundreds of World War I soldiers.

What are you doing to promote literacy and preserve literary history? ReaderGirlz sponsored Rock The Drop on April 17th, where you simply leave a YA book somewhere for a random person to find. If you are feeling really ambitious, you can try to emulate the couple who founded the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC.

Think publishing is an old boy’s club? Meet 5 women printers and booksellers from of 17th century.

If you love to eat and you love to read, BuzzFeed has 11 recipes for bookworms.

Even classic books can have moments that leave you scratching your head. Lauren Sarner lists 5 bizarre scenes you wouldn’t expect in classic books.

Letters give us a peek inside classic writer’s daily lives. Jane Austen wrote this letter while on a six-week visit to the city of Bath.

Rounding out our round-up is the important quiz: Which Charles Dickens character are you?

That’s all for this week—and this month! See you in May!



  1. Thanks for telling folks about our interview with the amazing Emma Dryden. Part two of that interview has just been posted. In it, Emma talks about current trends in children’s publishing (and whether authors should follow them) and discusses how to conect with teen readers. You can watch it here:


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