Posted by: Kerry Gans | September 18, 2014

Top Picks Thursday 09-18-2014

Welcome to another week of craft, business, and fun writing-related links!

Speculative fiction author Graham Joyce died in the UK this week.

Also in the UK, the Man Booker Prize for Fiction 2014 shortlist came out—but John Dugdale asks: Has the Man Booker Prize really opened up?

Friend of the blog Jonathan Maberry reveals his key to social media success to Porter Anderson.

Lizzie Skurnick explains why she started an imprint to reprint classic YA novels.

Judith Rosen takes a look at how indie bookstores are faring amid a summer of Amazon/Hachette battles. Across the pond, French bookstores find the fun in failing to stock a bestseller.

Does the fluctuating use of words in English drive you crazy? Ammon Shea makes a plea for linguistic tolerance. And you can comfort yourself with Robert Beard’s 100 most beautiful words in the English language.


Sometimes getting started is the hard part. Many writers do research prior to writing, some do it as they go along. Donna Bowman Bratton compares research to scavenger hunts, while Janalyn Voigt gives us a simple way to research a novel.

Some writers need to outline before they can start. Kiki Sullivan explains why outlining helps and how you can do it, and K.M. Weiland shares a 5-step game plan for outlining your novel.

If you write picture books, Mary Kole suggests that rhythm is more important than rhyme. Whatever you write, pay attention to what Theodor Adorno calls the art of punctuation.

Revision is the bane of many writers, but it is necessary. Jami Gold discusses finding problems vs. fixing problems, Marcy Kennedy shares a simple grammar trick that will clean up your fiction, and Katherine Pickett describes what to expect from a developmental editor.

Characters can give us headaches, but they are the heart of our story. P.J. Parrish advises listening to your characters, K.M. Weiland shows how to use reward and punishment to get your characters to change, C.S. Lakin discusses how setting and locale shape us and our characters, Julie Musil has 4 tips for writing about unfamiliar character issues, and Mary Kole reminds us never to save the villain’s motivation for a “big reveal” at the end.

We all want to be more productive, right? Michelle Krys has 3 tips to increase productivity when working from home, Nalini Singh shares 5 tips for writing faster, George Luke talks about NaNoWriMo skills that might help, and Andrea Merrell reminds us that being ergonomically correct can increase productivity by relieving strain and pain.

We are often advised to “write what you know.” Drew Chial explores the pros and cons of mining life experience for fiction, while Jenny Martin explains how reality inspires science fiction.

Sometimes writers wrestle with doubts: am I a “real” writer? Is what I write “worthy”? Kristen Lamb says that it’s time to stop worrying about defining a “real” writer, while Daphne Shadows dissects the attitude that genre fiction is the scum of the literary world. As Patrick S. Tomlinson reminds us, no one coasts to the top.

Creativity comes in all forms. Zadie Smith describes the micro-manager writer vs. the macro-planner, Marianne Evans finds inspiration in baking bread, and Ingrid Wickelgren proves that brilliance often springs from boredom.

Feeling disheartened because you are over 30 and not published yet? Never fear! Brandi Megan Granett has 6 pieces of writing advice from first-time writers over 40, and Rincey Abraham discusses 8 authors who had their biggest success after 50.


If you are pursuing traditional publishing, Cindy Jones thinks she might know why the agents aren’t biting.

Marketing includes many, many avenues of publicity. has a podcast with 5 keys to working with bookstores, before and after you’re published, Den Patrick explores whether or not you should display your book when on a book panel, and Neil Gaiman does a clever twist on video and book club promo.

Nina Amir has 4 ways writers can make money from a blog, and Jane Friedman explains what self-hosting is and when and why you should do it.


What if your favorite author’s next book was slated for release…in 100 years? That’s what’s in store for many authors who have signed on with a Norwegian library that is creating a special collection of books by current authors to be printed in 100 years—when the trees to print them with have matured.

For Harry Potter fans, see the magic behind the new Harry Potter covers.

If you are looking for inspiration for your title page, Joel Friedlander has 500 years of book title pages to stimulate your imagination.

A new Sherlock Holmes adventure by Arthur Conan Doyle will be published. This story was one of the tiny books housed in the Windsor Castle Doll’s House.

Bram Stoker’s handwritten manuscript for the stage version of Dracula will go on display at the British Museum.

Monday, 9/15/2014 was James Fenimore Cooper’s 225 birthday! He was born in Burlington, New Jersey.

And now for some silliness: Taylor Mali’s performance of The The Impotence of Proofreading, and the parody fantasy writing Twitter account Awful Fantasy.

That’s all for this week!


  1. This is so cool! Thanks for including me. 😉


    • You’re welcome, Daphne! We’re always looking for fresh voices to add to our round up. 🙂


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