Posted by: Kerry Gans | December 10, 2015

Top Picks Thursday 12-10-2015

Welcome to this week’s Top Picks Thursday! With the craziness of the holidays upon us, we try to find some breathing space to write.

‘Tis the season for gift giving. Judith Briles shares why books are the best gifts, and Jami Gold posts her ultimate gift guide for writers.

The New York Times Bookends columnists discuss the best books, new or old, they read this year, Drake Baer lists the 9 books that defined 2015, and Kristy Sinclair has some brilliant books for new babies.

Michelle Dean explores the balancing act that is choosing the National Book Award winners—and you can see who won the 2015 National Book Awards here.

Melissa Leon interviews Kelly Sue DeConnick about feminism in comics, and Taylor Swift donates 25,000 Scholastic books to NYC schools.

Our world can be frightening and stressful. David Brooks discusses super-survivors and the importance of narrative to their strength and recovery.


Carol Bodensteiner takes a look at how she completed NaNoWriMo…with a little help from her friends.

As we write furiously, suddenly we come to a very dangerous area of our novel—the middle. So many writers get stuck at the midpoint, Chuck Wendig wrote not one, but two, posts about the scary middle: welcome to the midpoint: now what? and further thoughts on the midpoint, starring Darth Vader.

A certain tension surrounds the character vs. plot balancing act. We need characterization, but that’s hard when your plot is action-based. Drew Chial discusses how to make room in plot-driven stories for characterization.

The little things make a big difference. Jen Matera shows how to create lean but descriptive prose, ThrillWriting helps get your weaponry right with this resource list, and Janice Hardy asks, should you label your chapters with words or numbers?

Editing and revision is difficult for many writers. “Kill your darlings” is the saying, and it can hurt. Janice Hardy tells us what to do when you need to cut a major part of your novel, and Marlo Garnsworthy describes the best practices for working with a freelance editor.

We all experience obstacles on the way to our writing dream. Shay Goodman discusses the problem of creative exhaustion and how to deal with it. Jane Friedman explores the secret to her productivity—and finds that the answer is a factor often overlooked and not available to everyone.

New writers are digesting a lot of new ideas and life choices, so sometimes the voice of experience can help them avoid missteps along the way. Roz Morris rounds up 5 things that established authors would tell new authors, while Anne R. Allen highlights 5 scams that target new writers and how to spot them.

Most writers gravitate to a certain genre or genres that resonate with them. If you write YA, editor Kate Angelella has some tips for writing YA. Meanwhile, Clare Langley-Hawthorne takes a philosophical look at why mysteries matter.


The publishing business is ever-changing. James Scott Bell explores the future of publishing, Joanna Penn and Dan Wood discuss Draft2Digital and going global, and Smashwords’ Mark Coker delivers the 2015 Smashwords Ebook Survey.

We rejoice when an agent asks you to send pages after you pitch at a conference. Janet Reid tells us how long you have to send those pages you promised at a conference. She’s not at a conference, but agent Jaida Temperly of New Leaf Literary & Media is seeking middle grade, YA, and some adult fiction right now.

Chip MacGregor answers the oft-asked question: Is social media effective for marketing books?; Kirsten Olpihant shows how to use Twitter effectively in 15 minutes a day, Sara Hathaway shows how Pinterest is changing the social media game, and Sandra Beckwith tells us how to avoid these 4 author bio mistakes.


 Have you heard of “bibliotherapy”? Turns out books can make you happier.

Happy birthday to Frances Hodgson Burnett!

Looking to introduce art to the youngest children? Elizabeth Dillow lists 10 great picture books about art.

Computers are our lifeline and the bane of our existence. Lavinia Collins outlines the struggles writers in the computer age know too well, and BuzzFeed looks at the stuff lodged in your keyboard.

The Globe Theater is marking the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death with a film for each of his 37 plays, Jewelry-maker Jane Nead shows off her As You Like It-inspired jewelry, and Paul Anthony Jones reveals 5 writers who really hated Shakespeare.

Some literary lost-and-found stories: an unknown short story written in World War I France by Edith Wharton, a previously unseen story and poem by Charlotte Bronte, and a map from 1612 stolen from the Boston Public Library 10 years ago is returned.

You know those words people mispronounce all the time—or do they? Oxford Dictionaries puts an end to 9 pronunciation arguments.

John Mullan looks at early reviews for The Lord of the Rings. (Note: Excerpt of article is free, full article is behind a paywall.)

Not all suffragettes protested in public: how suffragists used cookbooks as a recipe for subversion.

That’s all for this week’s Top Picks Thursday!


  1. Great Links! Thanks for including me, Kerry!


    • I love your blog–it finds its way into our lists frequently. 🙂


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