Posted by: Kerry Gans | September 10, 2015

Top Picks Thursday 09-10-2015

Welcome to this week’s Top Picks Thursday writing links. We hope our readers had a safe and happy Labor Day weekend.

Libraries and librarians can make a huge difference in unlikely places. Karina Glaser speaks about a children’s library in a homeless shelter, School Library Journal celebrates Lakisha Brinson, 2015 School Librarian of the Year Finalist, and Marta Bausells shows us a library in an immigrant camp in Calais—as well as stories of other libraries in crisis zones.

Marta Bausells’ article above tells how to donate books to the Calais library, and meanwhile Patrick Ness, John Green, and other YA authors have raised money to help with the growing refugee crisis in Europe—and you can help, too.

Showing the world from other perspectives is what writers do. Diversity in writing is always something to strive for. Nicola Yoon points out that while showing diversity in “issue” books is important, showing ordinary diversity in books is important, too. David Levithan, author of ANOTHER DAY discusses (among other things) the extreme limitations language puts on discussing gender identity, and NPR does a good job of respecting preferred gender pronouns and name stylization in their reporting.

For lovers of Joan Aiken’s Armitage family stories, a collection of Armitage stories is available for the first time. Neil Gaiman reveals the poignant real ending Terry Pratchett wanted for his final book THE SHEPHERD’S CROWN (*SPOILER ALERT*) but never got to write.

One thing writers fear is our publisher going out of business. Janet Reid discusses what to do when your publisher declares bankruptcy.

Many of us seek help from critique groups. Although there are many good ones out there, Anne R. Allen lists 10 red flags for critique groups that should send you running for the hills.


How does a story emerge from a random idea or a single piece of the puzzle? Jordan Dane shares 5 key steps to develop a story from scratch, Shannon Dittemore shows the process from setting to inciting incident, and Brittany Constable suggests writing the query before starting the draft.

Hannah Haney shares 3 things learned about writing from analyzing Stephen King’s IT, and Philip Overby tests you for obsessive world-building—and what you can do for the condition.

A story has many moving parts, and they all need to work together. K.M. Weiland explores how plot and theme must work as a team, as well as when to use participle phrases, Jessi Rita Hoffman points out 2 stammer verbs, and Chuck Wendig discusses rookie mistakes writers make.

All interesting characters have a flaw or wound. Becca Puglisi examines the wounds caused by growing up in the shadow of successful sibling.

We all know we need our stories edited. But Misti Wolanski talks about when a good editor is not good for your story.

We writers can have unusual fears and anxieties, but Alex Alvarez points out 19 fears that plague all writers. If you are an anxious writer, Shanan shares 3 tips to avoid writer’s anxiety.

In spite of any anxiety, The Magic Violinist has 3 reasons to break free from your writing comfort zone, and Marc Chernoff soothes us with 20 things to remember when rejection hurts.

Sometimes we need a push to get moving. Kristan Hoffman has advice for getting over the hump, Melissa DeCarlo shares 5 things art taught her about writing, Len Markidan has the one thing that helps restore motivation, and Nat Russo explains how micro distractions can help you when you’re stuck.

We can talk about inspiration all we want, but good writing comes down to one thing—good craft. Anna Elliott examines the story glue that holds it all together, and Larry Brooks discusses the hidden craft element behind the creative spark.


Many times writing for magazines can be a low-paying proposition. The Write Life put together this list of 10 magazines that pay $500 or more.

If you are self-publishing, Joel Friedlander highlights 5 favorite free fonts for interior design, and J.A. Lang discusses how to use CreateSpace and IngramSpark together.

Once you’ve produced your book, you need to get it to market. Jami Gold discusses 2 indie publishing distribution options, and Derek Haines explains how content marketing is the key to self-publishing success.

We all need pitches and short synopses, no matter how we publish. Rachelle Gardner talks elevator pitches, Cait Gordon shares 5 signs of going through pitch wars, and Mike Wells uncovers a secret formula for creating a short synopsis.

If you are submitting to agents and publishers, Donna Galanti’s 10-week blog series on how to get your manuscript past the gatekeeper is useful information. Also useful is Chuck Sambuchino’s definitive post on word counts for various genres and ages.

If you do land a contract, Derek Murphy has 5 things to check before you sign the publishing contract.

Marketing our book simply means that people can find us and our work. Florence Osmund lists 11 ways to get better reviews for your book, and Michael Keshen explains how to get a great author domain name even when is taken.

Blurbs can also get people interested in your book. Lev Raphael describes the experience when authors beg for blurbs. Meanwhile, James Mihaley says the best way to get books into kids’ hands is school visits.

Social media can also spread your name out there—but it’s not always fast. Belle Beth Cooper travels the insanely slow road to building a blog (and why most people give up), and Amanda Patterson shows us how to harness the networking power of LinkedIn.


For those of you with writers in your life, Jody Hedlund opens a window to what really goes on in a writer’s head.

Ever met a book snob and wondered what to say? Matt Haig lists quite a few answers to a book snob.

With immigration so much in the news these days, check out these 17 books that perfectly capture the immigrant experience.

Calling all Trekkies! B&N serves up 12 books to celebrate Star Trek’s 49th birthday.

August 30th was Mary Shelley’s birthday—Happy Birthday!

The world’s favorite Agatha Christie novel is AND THEN THERE WERE NONE.

That’s all for this Top Picks Thursday! Join us next week for more tips and advice.

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