Posted by: Kerry Gans | August 27, 2015

Top Picks Thursday 08-27-2015

Welcome to the final Top Picks Thursday of August! I am sure many of the parents out there are looking forward to the beginning of school, so we can have our writing time back.

The contentious, Puppy-laden Hugo Awards happened earlier this week. Here are the 2015 Hugo Award winners—and a recap from Chuck Wendig and a thoughtful piece from Charlie Jane Anders.

If you are visual, right-brained, or ADHD, try this organizing book for the artist.

For Tolkein fans, look for his unpublished The Story of Kullervo to hit bookshelves soon.

Kristan Higgins has had it with people dissing romance—especially people who criticize romance without having read a single book.

Nikkitha Baskshami examines “binge reading disorder”—where we read many, many articles a day yet retain very little of what we’ve read.

Get full use of your website. Jane Friedman shows how to sell digital products and services on your website.

We love our bookstores—and so does Chuck Wendig! Hop over to Chuck’s blog and give a shout-out to your favorite bookstore.

In a poignant post, Kathryn Craft shows the power of story in real life.


Embarking on a new writing project is always exciting yet fraught. Sometimes, you get hung up somewhere in the story. Nathan Bransford gives his tip on how to get unstuck. Sometimes your descriptions just aren’t pulling their weight. Eli K.P. William describes how to write vivid descriptions. And sometimes we are searching for that elusive “voice” for our narrative. Emma Darwin shares some insights into the elements of writing voice.

Characters create a lot of issues for the writer. For example, K.M. Weiland explains that the protagonist and the main character are not always the same person. Amanda Patterson shares 10 secrets to creating resilient characters, Laurie Schnebley Campbell explains using the heroine’s journey for inner conflicts, and Christy Distler tackles how your characters talk—avoiding unnecessary discourse, talking heads, and the British butler syndrome.

Editing is as unavoidable as death and taxes. Kristen A. Kieffer lists 10 things to do before editing your first draft, Teymour Shahabi explains how to find an editor, and while you’re at it, please check your manuscript for these misspelled and misused foreign phrases.

Writers are usually generous with their writing advice. Christopher Shultz writes in defense of (and against) the old adage of “write what you know,” Ellen Mulholland discusses routines and rituals in writing, Larry Brooks ponders on letting it rip, and Elizabeth Crook shares 7 rules for writing historical fiction.

Writer’s conferences are a great place to have fun and learn. They also can be places that scare us introverts to death. Angie Dicken tells us what resources we should pack for our writer’s conference, and Andrew Swearingen explores the experience of the sophomore writing conference.

There can be heated debates about paper books versus e-readers. But Jennifer Maloney says the real future of reading may have nothing to do with e-readers. She discusses the rise of phone reading, and what it means to authors and publishers.


Once we get into publishing, whether traditional or self-published, we are in business. So we need to think like business people. But we writers are an emotional bunch. Jami Gold examines how low author-self-esteem can impact our business decisions.

Crowdfunding sounds so enticing to finance your book project, but it can be very hard to pull off successfully. Judith Briles explains how crowdfunding success can be yours.

Querying can be crazy-making, but it doesn’t have to be. Ash Krafton lists 5 mistakes that make you look like an amateur, Janet Reid tells what to do if you’re not sure if your book is YA or adult, Kim English reminds us that querying is not a zero-sum game, Jennifer Laughran addresses personalizing your query letter, and Query Shark has a fantastic in-depth look at what makes queries successful.

Once we have our book, we need to sell it. James Scott Bell shows how to create some buzz for your book, Rachel Thompson has tips from authors on how to increase your sales, and Porter Anderson shows what reader analytics can teach authors and publishers.

Social media is a great way to connect with readers. Frances Caballo has 13 tips to help you attract and keep Facebook fans, Ricardo Fayet explains how to use Twitter to find and engage book reviewers, Jenny Hanson shares 5 easy SEO techniques for writers, Chris Syme reminds us to beware of social media snake oil, and Jane Friedman explores why there’s so much conflicting advice about social media.


Ray Bradbury’s FBI file shows the power of the pen. They thought he was subversive. They thought all SF was subversive. They were right.

Read 20 of the most profound things ever written by J.R.R. Tolkien and 12 quotable lines from Pride and Prejudice.

David Byrne has opened a personal lending library during the annual Meltdown Festival in London.

Brianne Moore lists 12 teen novels about poverty.

These are the 51 best fantasy series ever written (in the last 50 years). Did you catch these classical jokes hiding in your favorite children’s books?

Cannabis was discovered in 400-year-old tobacco pipes in William Shakespeare’s garden. This could explain some of the weird stuff in his plays.

So how did the Germanic, rune-based English alphabet become the Roman-based one we have today? Find out in the lost letters of the alphabet and how it’s evolved.

Have it your way…or not? Burger King tries to block the trademark application for the 1,200-year-old Book of Kells.

That’s all for this week’s Top Picks Thursday! We’ll see you in September!


  1. Thanks for linking to my article about finding an editor — and thanks for all the other great resources here!!


    • You’re welcome, Teymour! Keep up the good work–we’re always looking for fresh takes on subjects.


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