Posted by: Kerry Gans | August 21, 2014

Top Picks Thursday 08-21-2014

Welcome to our links roundup!

How many of us read Madeline as children? This year marks Madeline’s 75th birthday, and a new exhibit brings revelations about the books and author Ludwig Bemelmans.

All authors need to read. It’s one of the Golden Rules of authorhood. K.M. Weiland gives us the 10 commandments of reading like a writer.

Teens are not only reading voraciously, they’re writing, too. Julie Drew hopes YA lit can help close the gender gap in education, Kelly Jensen lists who YA fans should follow on Tumblr, and Chelsey Philpot examines the exploding world of teen fan fiction.

After the teen years, Lucy Horner recommends all twenty-somethings should read Tolstoy

Write For Kids explores how books and technology are changing kids’ lives worldwide, and are launching their own “The World Is Now Ours: A Children’s Writing Mission for the21st Century.”


Two pieces of general advice writers often hear are: you need a unique voice and show, don’t tell. Clare Langley-Hawthorne tells us how to find our voice, and Bronwyn Hemus shows why telling is as important as showing.

We talk mostly about novels here, but Neal Abbott gives us 3 reasons you should consider writing a novella right now. No matter what we write, our opening line is key. Jacob M. Appel lists 7 ways to create a killer opening line for your work.

So many bits of craft go into writing a good story. Mary Kole explains the bridging conflict, Jane Lebak focuses on fixing bland narration, and Diana Hurwitz tells us how to jazz up back story.

Getting the details right is important. Jay Korza provides surveillance information for writers, MJ Wright has 3 rules for naming your fantasy world (which works just as well for reality-based fictional worlds), and Perfect Prose Services lists 15 common spelling mistakes and how to avoid them.

Characters are what makes a novel live in the hearts and minds of your readers. Jami Gold asks: can characters be both strong and vulnerable? Anne R. Allen lists 5 protagonists readers hate. K.M. Weiland explains how to writer memorable (but not too memorable) walk-on characters, and Rebecca Lacko explores how to portray teen fears realistically.

Zachariah OHora advises facing fears to create great characters, Susie Rodarme shows us the 5 stages of grief that occur when bad things happen to good characters, and whatever you do, please don’t “fridge” your female characters.

One big fear for many writers: being original. C.S. Lakin explains why tweaking your writing and genre for success is not selling out. Margarita Tartakovsky has 5 creative cures for writer’s block and Bryon Quertermous lists 5 things you can learn from a freelance editor.

Writers are often portrayed as struggling with inner demons (and many do). Kathy Weyer says that writing is her Prozac, Chris Abouzeid gives an amusing 6 habits of highly tormented writers list, and Werner Herzog explains the connection between creativity and self-reliance.

In other writerly advice, Terry Pratchett shares—among other things—what books he would bring to a desert island, Miranda Mellis explores how a lifetime of odd jobs contributed to her creativity, and A.S. King shows us how to separate the writing from the business.


So, Amazon is still in the news, this time trying to rally indie authors against Hachette. In doing so, they sent an email to indies in which they misquoted George Orwell—to which Bill Hamilton, literary executor for Orwell’s estate, responds (scroll to the last letter in the list). Here’s a roundup of Amazon’s friends and critics over Amazon’s latest moves. Meanwhile, Amazon is finally extending pre-order buttons to its KDP authors.

If you are self-publishing, Janine Savage explains why it takes a village to publish a book, hybrid author Holly Robinson busts some myths, and lawyer Helen Sedwick answers questions about copyright, pen names, and 1099s.

If you are seeking agents, Chuck Sambuchino tells you the best way to query, Jen Malone explains how to format a manuscript, Richard Ellis Preston describes how he got his agent, Susan Gourley/Kelly defines high concept, and Janet Reid explains the difference between writing credentials and platform.

Speaking of platform, Brooke Warner describes the makeup of a successful author platform, while Rachel Thompson explains how to build an audience before you have a product.

A large part of marketing is your book cover. Judy Probus lists the 5 keys to book cover success, and Janet Kobobel Grant judges many books by their covers.

Jason Kong recommends partnering with other authors to market your book, and Joe Bunting tells us the 5 elements of a perfect blog post.


Where’s your favorite writing spot? Check out these 10 stunning writing studios.

Metropolitan Museum of Art head librarian Ken Soehner shares his favorite depictions of books.

The power of social media. Twitter users joined forces to decipher a 1928 overdue book slip

If you think Track Changes is hard to manage, see how Jane Austen used pins to edit one of her manuscripts

A look into the lingo of beggars and thieves: A New Dictionary of the Terms Ancient and Modern of the Canting Crew in its Several Tribes, of Gypsies, Beggars, Thieves, Cheats, etc., 1899 edition

Medieval manuscripts can impress with their giant size or with details like this disappearing fore-edge painting

That’s all for us this week!


  1. Thank you for referring one of my articles again!

    ~ Janine


  2. Thanks for linking to Jen Malone’s post on Writers’ Rumpus!


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