Posted by: Kerry Gans | May 29, 2014

Top Picks Thursday 05-29-2014

Welcome to the last links round-up of May! We hope your Memorial Day was relaxing and fun. Now back to the grind!

We lost two authors this week: Maya Angelou died at age 86, and Sam Greenlee died at age 83.

There’s been a lot of discussion this week about putting trigger warnings on books in high school and college. Reactions have ranged the gamut: Rebecca Joines Schnisky argues that trigger warnings are in no way the thin end of the wedge of censorship, while Kristen Lamb argues that the whole idea of “empathetic correctness” is a dangerous step toward large-scale censorship–especially in a world where ebooks are becoming the norm.

Librarians are a key to disseminating diverse ideas and content. This TEDx talk discusses how libraries are bridging the digital divide; librarian Deimosa Webber-Bey explains why she tries to read what teens recommend to her; and Kyle Zimmer explains why a market-driven solution is the ONLY solution to increasing diversity in our books.

Do you, like Sharon Browning, ever wonder why people read bad books?

For anyone who looks down on romance readers, Alyssa Rosenberg explains why women read romance–and it isn’t why you think.

If you’re going to write in a genre, it’s best to know it well. Ruth Harris has an amazing list of tips and link resources from experts in all sorts of genres–you’re sure to find yours there. For an amusing look at genres, check out Mike Speegle’s 20 popular book genres in 140 characters or fewer.

Want to know how J.K. Rowling kept track of everything in her novels? Check out Rowling’s plot spreadsheet for The Order of the Phoenix.


We begin at the beginning when writing. Some of us need a title to get started. Jevon Knights tells us how to create a great title. Once we start writing, though, Julia A. Weber warns us how not to begin our novel.

The middle of our books often frustrate us. Martha Alderson shows us how to advance the thematic significance throughout the middle and create tension. No matter where we are in the book, Mary Kole suggests we try to convey emotional meaning without using “look” or “voice” cues.

While our main character is paramount, we shouldn’t skimp on any of the characters. Carly Watters discusses writing memorable secondary characters, Skye Fairwin talks emotional scenes and unreliable narrators, K.M. Weiland shows us the resolution to character arcs, and Scott Meyers asks if our characters exist beyond THE END.

Writing routines are great, but Emily Wenstrom shares 3 times you should take a break from writing, while Chuck Wendig explores what might really cause writer’s block. Joe Bunting reminds us that we can’t be a successful writer alone–we need a cartel.

How do we stay in a creative mindset? Bob Dylan discusses sacrifice, the unconscious mind, and how to cultivate the perfect environment for creative work. Jen Matera suggests surrounding yourself with diversity, and Lori Kane shares 13 steps for creating a writing-centered life.


The big story this week remains the Amazon vs. Hachette dispute. David Gaughran dissects the Amazon-Hachette feud and warns that it might not be what it seems, Tom Worstall investigates the real story behind the Amazon-Hachette fight, Amazon escalates its tactics against Hachette–and Amazon is also playing hardball with European publisher Bonnier for similar reasons. If you are a self-publisher and think you are above the fray, Mark Coker of Smashwords lays out what the Amazon-Hachette dispute foreshadows for indie authors.

Many readers, unhappy that they can’t get their Hachette books from Amazon, are finding new channels to get the books they want. Ardelle Cowie is one such woman boycotting Amazon over its treatment of authors and readers.

If you are seeking an agent, Andy Kifer of the Gernert Company is looking for literary fiction, smart genre fiction, high-concept thrillers, and sci-fi.

Do you hear people talking about Publisher’s Marketplace and wonder what exactly it is? Agent Jennifer Laughran explains what Publisher’s Marketplace is, who reports there, and what it means for you as a writer.

Did you know about Publishers Weekly’s PW Select? PW Select highlights new titles from self-publishers. Here’s the PW Select May 2014 list of new titles from self-publishers.

When we think marketing, we tend to think big. But Kristen Eckstein shares 4 secrets to marketing your book locally. Got more than one book up your sleeve? Nina Amir discusses how to brand yourself and make more money as a multiple-book author.


Once you’ve finished John Green’s The Fault In Our Stars, here are the top 10 read-alike books.

We writers love what-ifs. Daniel Dalton tackles if pop songs were works of classic literature, and Meira Bienstock envisions 10 ideal book characters who should exist in real life.

I hate putting down a book, but since sometimes I have to, I need a good bookmark. Check out these 23 creative bookmarks to make sure you know where you left off.

If you’re in Australia, visit these 17 spectacular bookstores. If you’re in the market for a new home, explore these 8 literary homes you can buy right now.

Authors can constantly surprise us. Here are 12 charming tidbits about Beverly Cleary; here’s a young Eudora Welty’s amazing job application to The New Yorker; and here’s a newly discovered 150-year-old note from Jane Austen.

Check out the almost 400,000 digital images, including illustrations from picture books for adults, released by the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

When you travel, do you use a phrasebook to translate? Take a look at a 10th century Chinese/Khotanese phrasebook for Silk Road travelers.

I want my own bookplate. Don’t you? Here’s Queen Victoria’s bookplate for inspiration.

That’s it for us this week! See you in June!

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