Posted by: Kerry Gans | May 15, 2014

Top Picks Thursday 05-15-2014

It’s time for another week of what writers on the web are talking about. Welcome!

Anne R. Allen praises the new golden age of short fiction.

Stephen Swartz explains the mother of all writing processes.

In a longish but highly in formative interview, Joanna Penn interviews Jane Friedman about money, writing, and life—and how to find success in all three.

Toronto’s Book City is opening a new Bloor West Village bookstore location in June. Michael Levin believes Barnes & Noble will be gone by New Year’s. Do you agree, or is it more over-hyped hand-wringing? Addressing another perennial hysteria, Chuck Wendig calls for an end to “the novel is dead” lamentation.

Author and environmentalist Farley Mowat, author of Never Cry Wolf, dies at 92.

How John Green became the breakout star of a summer blockbuster. Meanwhile, Philip Roth says he has given his last public reading.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Over on Shh, Moms Reading, authors are donating a portion of their book sales in May to the Keith Milano Memorial Fund at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. To see how mental health is handled in teen lit, check out this mental health in YA reading list.

YA is periodically taken to task for being too dark, and it also is subject to bans on “objectionable” material. Sian Cain tackles the topic of death in YA and why it is beneficial to teen readers, while Liz Kessler celebrates the lifting of a virtual ban on LGBT children’s literature in the UK.


Ever get so paralyzed that you can’t start writing? Marianne Richmond has, and she shares some mechanisms to help you start writing when you can’t start writing.

Finding our narrative writing voice can be a painful and long process. But just what IS voice, anyway? Janalyn Voight explains what voice is.

There are many underlying factors that make our story successful. The main one is conflict—without conflict, there is no story. Justin McLachlan shows us 5 ways to create conflict in our story. Another factor that lifts our story is the themes we highlight. Emily Wenstrom guides us in choosing the themes we write about.

Sometimes the key to success is what we leave out of the story. Jami Gold explains when we should skip a scene in our story, and Ava Jae lists 7 signs we should cut our prologue.

Little stuff is as important as big stuff in creating a book our readers will love. Jen Matera talks about indirect and direct action and how to use each effectively, Marcy Kennedy highlights 2 dialogue death sentences and how to fix them, and Patrick Samphire points out the importance of place names in imaginary worlds.

Many times, a successful book boils down to character. K.M. Weiland continues her series on character by exploring the character’s arc in the 3rd act, Angela Ackerman gives us 5 reasons your hero needs a special skill or talent, Sharla Rae has 10 tips for writing children, and Drew Chial tells us how to create a good villain.

Even if we write genre fiction, there is so much room to insert your self into what we write, creating a connection with the reader. Mariko Tamaki talks about writing as a feminist, while Kathleen George says you can write a thriller that is both smart and exciting.

Ginger Johnson tells unpublished writers how to respond to people who think they are losers for not being published. Jo Knowles has a question for the published and unpublished among us: who do you write for?

None of this matters if we lose our creativity and motivation. Robbie Plair explains how stress assassinates creativity, while Cate Russell-Cole exposes red pen phobia. Janet Choi tells us how to harness the power of progress utilizing “The Done List,” and James L’Etoile pushes us to finish what we start.


In China, a court gives a Hong Kong publisher a 10-year sentence for smuggling chemicals. Or was it really to stop him from publishing “subversive” books?

Amazon is wrangling with another publisher. Hachette says Amazon is purposely delaying delivery of some books, while Hachette authors are caught in the crossfire and come out the losers.

Edward W. Robertson examines self-publishing’s share of the Kindle market by genre.

Subscription service Oyster grows their selection to 500K titles thanks to access to HarperCollins’ backlist.

If you still send queries by snail mail, Janet Reid lists 10 things NEVER to send with your query. If you send via email, please do not start your query with THIS.

Wondering how to connect with your readers? Krizia demystifies Google+ Hangouts for authors. How about Facebook? Frances Caballo explores if indie authors should buy Facebook ads to boost their reach.

The key to attracting an audience, whether with a book, story, or online, is often your title. Michael Hyatt shares 4 strategies for creating titles that jump off the page.

The hub of most author platforms are the author website and/or blog. Jane Friedman asks if you need to rethink your website’s key elements, while Zach Kitschke shows us how to get your blog post shared 1,000 times.


Check out Kurt Vonnegut’s drawings and his commentary on them.

Talk about a library being part of the community! The community of Stanton turned out to move books from the old library to the new in a unique way.

Have you released a book you wish you could take back? You’re not alone. Here are 10 great authors who disowned their own books.

We’re feeling numerical: 10 words every book lover should know; 10 best road books; and 12 writers on the women authors who inspired them.

Another Poirot mystery solved? A Belgian refugee may have been the inspiration for Agatha Christie’s detective Hercule Poirot.

That’s it for this week!


  1. Thanks for including my post on voice in writing. You’ve put together an awesome list that will help many. I’m sharing this! :o)


    • Thanks, Janalyn! Voice is something so many of us struggle with. It sounds so simple when you talk about it!


  2. Thanks much for the shout-out for my post on the renaissance of short fiction!


    • You’re welcome, Anne! You and Ruth do nice work over there–we’re regular readers and you’re becoming regular participants on our Thursday round-up!


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