Posted by: Kerry Gans | January 8, 2015

Top Picks Thursday 01-08-2015

Welcome to 2015! It’s a new year with new possibilities.

To help us take advantage of our possibilities, Jami Gold focuses on how to continue our successes from 2014, Jennie Nash has 13 necessary steps to become a successful writer this year, Daphne Gray-Grant makes new rituals rather than resolutions for 2015 and Joy Phenix discusses how to manage the tensions of a new year.

Reading more in a new year is a popular resolution. Stephen Marche explains how to shop in a bookstore (and why you should), the Kids & Family Reading Report shows what kids want in books, and Claire Fallon warns of the problem with reading competitively.

Many of us write in public spaces like coffeehouses. Laura Drake cautions of the perils of writing in public.


So much goes into creating a page-turner. Martina Boone has 6 questions to find the secret of compelling fiction, Jami Gold explores what creates a story’s theme, and C.S. Lakin reminds us that a novel is not a sum total of its parts.

An infographic tells us how to write a scene in 11 steps, Fiona Quinn discusses how to tactically clear a building, Philip Athans describes how to scare the heck out of your readers, and Jami Gold explores what defines a Black Moment.

We spend a lot of time drafting our protagonists, but Harrison Demchick shows how to write a convincing culprit. And since all of our characters talk, Jon Winokur collects advice on dialogue.

All writers need to self-edit. Corina Koch MacLeod and Carla Douglas list their 19 best titles for self-editing. Susan Silver explores the “unthink” editing process, and K.M. Weiland discusses how to recognize and cut unnecessary filler in our work.

What do we need to succeed? Kathryn Craft shares 5 writing lessons from a vocal coach, and Kristen Lamb says the secret is to be an outlaster. Dr. Carol Morgan gives us 20 signs that you’re succeeding in life even when you don’t feel you are.

Authors love to share their creative advice. Claire McKinney answers 5 questions, Pico Iyer has a TED talk on the art of stillness, and Tamara Girardi advises to write what you’re willing to learn.


Russell Blake explores the publishing landscape in 2015, and Victoria Strauss explains 6 ways you could be sabotaging yourself with your contracts.

When you publish there are many details you need to track, especially if you self-publish. Roz Morris answers the question: should you use the free CreateSpace ISBN or your own ISBN? Publisher Sheyna Galyan clears up any lingering confusion on how many ISBNs you need for ebooks on separate platforms. Sometimes you need to get permission to use lyrics, prose, or poetry from other artists in your work. Jane Friedman explains how to request permission and gives a sample letter.

Agent Janet Reid tackles four topics this week: why personalizing your query is a waste of time, when you should mention previous work in a query, if you should use different fonts for backstory in a manuscript submission, and what to say in a query if a novel is based on an already published short story.

We’re all part of the marketing of our books. Jason Kong explains how to improve our fiction marketing through collaboration, and Write For Kids shows us a non-terrifying alternative to book marketing.


Neal deGrasse Tyson selects the 8 books every person on Earth should read.

Emmy Favilla shares 15 silly old-timey words you need to start using again.

Need some inspiration to pull you through writing a book? Mary Carroll Moore gives us a three-part (and encouraging) brainstorming exercise to imagine your finished book.

That’s it for us this week!


  1. Wow! Lots of shout outs to me today–thank you so much! *blush* I hope all that information helps people. 🙂


    • You must have hit on a lot of hot topics this week! As always, keep up the good work. 🙂


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