Posted by: Kerry Gans | February 19, 2015

Top Picks Thursday 02-19-2015

Welcome to this week’s writerly links. Temperatures here are frigid (think below 20 degrees F) but huddling over our laptops is keeping us warm.

In this romantic month, Daniel Jones discusses how we write about love—and the differences he sees between men and women writers.

Check out the American Library Association’s 2015 award winners—Newbery, Caldecott, and more!

Novelists, here are 10 reasons to write short stories even though the pay is peanuts.

Thinking about doing an audiobook? Narrator Catherine O’Brien talks ACX and audiobooks.

Every author needs to look closely at their contracts. Victoria Strauss gives the specifics of editing clauses in publishing contracts.

Lahore, Pakistan, hosts a huge literary festival.

Diversity in books is always a concern. Jim Dean discusses diversity in middle grade mysteries, the Iranian translator of the lesbian romance Blue Is The Warmest Colour, Sepideh Jodeyri is banned in her home country, and Malinda Lo explores prevailing perceptions of diversity in book reviews.

Reading wasn’t always the emotional, nostalgic activity we know today. Joshua Rothman traces the history of “loving reading.”


Structure is important in most stories. Back in the day, Kurt Vonnegut graphed the world’s most popular stories—and what he found might surprise you.

Have a short story that needs to be even shorter? Writer’s Relief offers some suggestions on how to trim that short story even more.

Ever wish you could think of more plot ideas for your novel? Roz Morris gives 4 reasons you might be missing the best plot ideas in your story. All stories need conflict, and Kristen Lamb shares tips to maximize conflict in your novel. And if you’ve ever struggled with how much time your story should cover, K.M. Weiland has the answer.

If you’re writing a love story, here’s a literary love story self-test. Whatever you’re writing, be aware of passive voice in your work.

You can’t have a story without characters. Jody Hedlund gives us a 5-point checklist to help writers get to know their characters thoroughly, and Jami Gold discusses whether our protagonist MUST be in the first scene.

We’ve all been faced with huge projects. Ash Krafton explains how to defeat seemingly overwhelming projects, and Kim English discusses figuring out your creative process.

Megan Shepherd talks about the ever-changing milestones of a writing career, while Alycia Morales asks: are you committed to the craft of writing?

Steve Dunham shares the 4 marks of good writing, and Karen Pashley lists 6 ways you can prepare yourself and your manuscript for success.

So often we wonder if there’s a market for our unique brand of creativity. Emmie Mears lists 5 reasons to write the book you need to write, and Katrina Pfannkuch discusses why waiting for someone else to validate your creativity isn’t necessary.

Writers are one half of the equation—readers are the other half. Editor Linda Clare describes how to get readers into your story—and how to keep them there, while Ethical Authors gives us their top 10 ways to love your reader.


Confused about how to self-publish your book? Jane Friedman gives a great overview for self-publishing in both ebook and print. Nina Amir explains how to build a business around your book, and Cathy Yardley explains how to find your ideal readers if you’re a fiction writer.

We authors often harp on word count. Dean Wesley Smith discusses why novels “must be” a certain length.

Marketing and promo is something many authors don’t understand well. Sharon Bially explains a very simple promo tip: call your book by its name. Derek Murphy explores what we can learn about creating a bestseller from Arnold Schwarzeneggar and Tony Robbins.

Much marketing is done online these days. Henry Baum shows us how to choose Kindle keywords for best effect, and Kristin Lamb lists the 3 “nevers” of social media for writers.

Damien Walker wonders if Wattpad and other “phone fiction” sites spells the end of the professional novelist.


English is always changing. Do you know the lost letters of the alphabet? Here are 10 things people once feared would ruin the English language.

Peeking inside the lives of classic authors can be enlightening. A letter from Ernest Hemingway’s widow could solve the mystery attached to his Cuban farmhouse. Emma Woolf explores the joyful, gossipy, and absurd private life of Virginia Woolf, and Charles Dickens weighs in on the horrors of fame.

As for more recent authors, there’s a Kickstarter to fund a Kurt Vonnegut documentary, and formerly unseen poems by the late Iain Banks are now in print.

And back to the classics… Here’s a time-lapse video of the recent Massachusetts snow storm blanketing the famous 17th century House of the Seven Gables in Salem, MA. And for culinary types, check out these 10 great meals in literature.

The Doves Press type, tossed into the Thames in 1916 by a vindictive business partner, is recovered—and Robert Green creates a digital facsimile of the Doves Press type.

For those who like mystery and Medieval manuscripts, Lisa Fagin Davis introduces us to the wily 19th century Spanish Forger who left a trail of false illustrated manuscripts.

That’s all for us this week!



  1. I think my browser is about to crash after opening all those tabs. LOL! A great collection–as always. 🙂 Thanks for including me!


    • LOL! Yes, the crew found a lot of good ones this week.


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