Posted by: Kerry Gans | January 28, 2016

Top Picks Thursday 01-28-2015

Welcome to our Top Picks Thursday roundup! We got hit with 20” of snow this weekend—I hope all of you in the path of the storm stayed safe and warm.

If you are looking for a writing contest, check out Erica Verrillo’s list of 42 writing contests in February with no entry fees.

Amalgam Comics and Coffeehouse in Philadelphia, owned by Ariel Johnson, prizes diversity in its heroes.

We all know reading is good for your brain. Jennifer Abasi gives us 5 physical benefits of reading.

Publishing is certain to change in 2016—the question is how. Scholastic’s latest podcast examines book trends in children’s literature in 2016, and Jonathon Sturgeon wonders if Google, Apple, and SCOTUS will decide the future of book publishing this year.

Authors are often not compensated fairly (or at all) for presenting at book festivals. The Society of Authors examines how the campaign to have authors receive compensation is impacting the festival universe.

Who knew there could be a kerfluffle over folklore? Some researchers claim that fairy tales are thousands of years old, while others are not so sure.

Writers are often introverts, yet we must appear in public to sell our books. Jami Gold examines the writer dilemma of private life vs. public figure, and Kathryn Craft describes how finding your tribe can change your writing life.


Sometimes the thing that holds writers back the most is ourselves, and sometimes we get held back because our needs have changed over the course of our careers. Rachel Thompson explores how to give yourself permission: how to stop worrying about what others think and write your damn story, and Chuck Wendig shares some thoughts for mid-career writers.

The underlying story structure can make or break a story. John Wong uses the original Star Wars: A New Hope to examine the 7-point plot structure, while Chuck Wendig looks to Star Wars: The Force Awakens for 5 storytelling lessons.

Writers need to consider so many things when embarking on a project. Martina Boone explores the search for the unexpected as the key to voice and plot in fiction, C.S. Lakin explains why outlining your scenes will help you write a great novel, Laura Brown discusses when the research is right, and Marie Lamba lays out the key differences between Middle Grade and Young Adult.

The big-picture issues aside, writers also have to perfect the details in their work. K.M. Weiland discusses setup and payoff as two equally important elements of foreshadowing, Dawn Field shares 7 ways to help you be precise in your writing, and September C. Fawkes describes how to break the rules right by telling instead of showing.

Character also brings a great many items to ponder. Mary Kole shows how to format interiority, Janice Hardy explains what to do when one POV is better than the other, and Lloyd Strickland ruminates over the philosophy behind creating a good bad guy.

After the writing comes the editing. Kim Bullock describes how to search for darlings to murder, Joe Moore shares editing tips for the indie author, and K.M. Weiland shows us how to edit our NaNo book—or any other book.

Writing advice isn’t always about the nuts and bolts of the craft—sometimes it’s about the writing life itself. Anne R. Allen posts 10 misconceptions a good education gave her about writing, Lynette Labelle tries to balance writing time and life, and Jane Friedman gives advice specifically for children and teen writers.

In a similar vein, Miranda Beverly-Whittemore shares 5 things she wishes she’d known 5 months before she published her first novel, Maggy van Eijk finds out what keeps writers motivated when writing a novel, and Dan Blank assures us: don’t worry, it only gets harder.


All authors also have to deal with the business side of things. Angela Christina Archer discusses the two types of businesses authors can set up for themselves—unless you choose James Scott Bell’s option of self-publishing as a lemonade stand.

Agent Rachelle Gardner has 10 things editors look for in non-fiction authors. She also tells us how to talk with agents and publishers. If you’re looking for an agent to talk to, try querying Mary South of Lowenstein Associates.

Britt Skrabanek explains why writing is not enough to ensure success, Kimberly Grabas discusses 7 book marketing trends authors can’t afford to ignore, and Hans M. Hirschi examines the bane and headache that is swag.

The internet offers many different ways to connect with our readers. Frances Caballo explains how to use Pinterest as an indie author, and how to set up your Goodreads author dashboard. Rachelle Gardner looks at the conundrum of to blog or not to blog, and DiAnn Mills shares 5 ways to avoid the blogging trap.


Most of us agree that Alan Rickman did a fantastic job with a nuanced, deep portrayal of Severus Snape. Find out the secret to Rickman’s amazing performance.

Back in the early days of Hollywood, women had a larger slice of the pie than today. Meet Frances Marion, a screenwriting powerhouse in early Hollywood.

Writers love books, even when writing them makes us a wee bit crazy. Alex Alvarez shares 31 funny tweets that are way too real for writers, Nicole Froio lists her 10 favorite bookish feelings, and Erin La Rosa gives us 17 truths only book lovers will understand.

In an interesting juxtaposition, modern social media helps discover a rare antique document. Norway’s National Library discovers a rare atlas—with a little help from Reddit.

Jane Austin scribed more than books—see Austen’s copied music manuscripts online.

Visit William Corbett’s Bookshop, a recreation of a 17th century bookshop. It may contain this 17th-century medical pop-up book. Yes, I said medical pop-up book.

And finally, you can now answer the question that has kept you up at night: Which punctuation mark are you?

That’s all for Top Picks Thursday this week—and this month! See you in February and thanks for reading.

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