Welcome to our Top Picks Thursday linkfest! J. Thomas Ross and I returned this week from the 2015 Philadelphia Writers’ Conference, and our brains are still bursting with all the information we learned and people we met.
Author John Spurling won the £25,000 Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction for his novel set in imperial China, The Ten Thousand Things.
Winning an award or prize can be a big boost to your career, especially when you are still trying to break into publishing. However, there are many scam contests out there, so Victoria Strauss explains how to recognize and avoid rip-off contests.
Books can build community. Adam Gopnik explores the death of a bookstore, noting that when a bookstore closes, an argument ends, Mike Newall chronicles how one Philadelphia school is using local hands to solve an unused book problem, and the New York Public Library reveals some of its quirkiest inquiries.
For writers, fandoms can be both wonderful and problematic. Cassandra Clare and Maggie Stiefvater discuss their experiences, while Holly Black and Maureen Johnson defend fellow writer John Green against a fan’s accusation.
Speaking of John Green, here’s the one word Green regrets using in Paper Towns.
When Irene Gallo of Tor books made a personal statement about the Sad and Rabid Puppies debacle, a huge backlash followed. Chuck Wendig explains why he stands with Irene Gallo in her right to express herself.
For all Discworld lovers, Terry Pratchett’s daughter has confirmed an end to the Discworld series.
Sometimes getting started is the hard part. Cathy Lamb discusses stealing from your own life to find a storyline, Mark Alpert explains how to create a winning voice, and Elysia Regina gives 3 tips to naming your novel, plus some extra tips from authors.
Getting to the heart of your story can also be difficult. Bruce Holsinger shows how to find your mythic theme, and Larry Brooks shares 7 questions you must answer before your thriller will work.
Structure is a key to a successful novel. Kristen A. Kieffer has plot structures for building bestsellers, K.M. Weiland describes the difference between the key event and the first plot point, Kristen Lamb explains why flashbacks ruin fiction, and Linda Clare lays out exactly what to show and what to tell.
Along with solid structure, character is vital to success. Angela Ackerman shares 3 quick tips to connect readers to your hero, Kassandra Lamb lists 9 common character psychology errors, and Jody Hedlund tells us how to keep your readers from hating your characters.
Feedback and editing are necessary to write a good story. Brooke McIntyre shows how to find the right critique group or partner, while Gabriel Storment lists 3 rules for getting feedback on your script. Connie J. Jasperson explains that proofreading is not editing, and Neill Woelk shares a hilarious example of why editors are necessary.
Getting from wanting to write to actually writing can be a difficult journey. Judith Briles has 5 steps from wannabe author to the real thing, Laura Nicole Diamond tells how writing a journal prepared her for writing a novel, and Kathryn Lilley shares brain science’s solutions to writer’s block.
The global publishing landscape of today gives authors a great deal of flexibility. Zen Cho discusses getting a short story collection published when others told him it wasn’t possible, and Kaitlyn Bevis shares her journey from orphaned book to a multi-book contract.
Book launches and author events often form the backbone of our sales strategy. Kimberly Grabas shares 14 ways to crash your book launch, Clare Helen Welsh has advice on author events, and Janet Reid shows authors what to do when your book is not in stores.
Social media is the way many of us connect with our readers. Jane Friedman shows us how to build an email newsletter and list that works, Michael Hyatt lists 7 blogging mistakes and how to fix them, and Ben Wallace tells us how to make an author video.
THE UNIQUE SHELF
Find out how much of a grammar nerd you are with this quiz.
This is an awesome resource for historical fiction writers: a free historical textile booklet from the UK’s Dress and Textile Specialists.
You might want to bring a food tester to this. The Agatha Christie Festival will host a cookery demonstration with a poisonous twist.
Check out this autographed seating plan for an 1877 dinner with many literary luminaries, including Longfellow, Emerson, Howell, and more.
As if spiders weren’t bad enough. If you buy antiquarian books, you will also get an army of protective book scorpions.
That’s all for us this week!