Posted by: Kerry Gans | March 10, 2016

Top Picks Thursday! Advice for Writers 03-10-2016

Purple crocuses and yellow daffodilsWelcome to this week’s Top Picks Thursday! Spring has crept into our neck of the woods, and we’re bringing you brand-new writerly links on craft, business, and oddities.

In sad news, author of The Prince of Tides and The Great Santini Pat Conroy has died, as has Louise Rennison, author of Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging.

World Book Day has just passed. Can you score better than the kids on this World Book Day quiz? (I got 14/20, which just missed passing.)

Kelly Jensen lists the best-selling YA novels and series of all time.

TED Talks are inspiring for many people in many different fields. Kristy Stuart weeded through them to find 5 TED Talks for writing inspiration.


If you are interested in picture books, Sophie Masson discusses writing picture book texts.

Do you write thrillers, or other “ripped from the headlines” type stories? Todd Moss talks about the dangers of writing novels that chase the news cycle—even unintentionally.

If magical realism piques your interest, Stephanie Carroll shares tips and tricks for using magical realism in your writing.

The large structure elements of our story support everything else. Martina Boone analyses how the hero’s journey draws readers in, Marie Lamba explores how to dig deeper for ideas, and Vaughn Roycroft examines high concept versus deep theme.

You can tell a lot from the way someone carries themselves. Pamela Hodges looks at posture and character development. Meanwhile, Pat Verducci shares 7 tips to writing great dialogue.

So many elements come together to create an engrossing book. Janice Hardy examines onomatopoeia, Kevin Pickard explores if we should use pop culture references in our novels, Joe Moore explains why plot elements matter, and Anne R. Allen shares 6 reasons “show don’t tell” can be terrible advice for new writers.

After we’ve written, we need to revise, which means self-editing, beta readers, and professional editors. Constance Cooper talks about lessening the pain as you cut words you have crafted, K.M. Weiland shares 15 places to find your next beta reader, and Roz Morris discusses how much to budget for editing.

Being a writer is as much a lifestyle as an occupation. Tracy Shawn analyses the care and feeding of an author, Stephanie Burgis explains her inspiration and influences, and Jo Eberhardt dissects the writer’s mind and it’s insatiable appetite for understanding. Jessie Kwak gives tips to start your passion project right now, Sarah Knight explores the power of pleasure reading, Brian A. Klems lists 7 reasons writing a book makes you a badass, and Kristen Lamb shares 10 ways to go pro.


A lot goes into publishing a book successfully. Many of these items are taken care of by traditional publishers, but self-publishers have to deal with them on their own. David Kudler explains why a PDF isn’t an ebook, and Jay Swanson lays out 5 steps to great cover art.

If you are self-publishing you need to find your publishing path. Diana Hurwitz shares the top 10 reasons to publish through Amazon, and Jami Gold wants to know what your reader retention plan is.

If you are seeking an agent, Kate McKean of Howard Morhaim Literary put out a call for women’s fiction, contemporary YA & mid-grade, and more.

Rejection is a part of the publishing business. Chris L. Owens finds that rejection is easier the second time around.

Building buzz for a book and interacting with your readers is hard work. Diana Urban lists 9 free tools that can help build buzz for a book, and Joel Friedlander takes a look at creating a blog comments policy for your blog.


Writers collect books. Geoffrey Best reflects on a lifetime collecting books.

Read Virginia Poe’s sad acrostic Valentine for husband Edgar Allen Poe.

We are fascinated by ancient writings, perhaps because they shine a light on how little we have changed over the years. This papyrus from the Book of the Dead of Nakht is over 3,000 years old. Homer’s Iliad is about 2,800 years old, and it’s the basis for Christopher Logue’s “War Music”. Why is the Iliad still important? “Because the idea of endless war is as fresh as this morning’s headline.”

Speaking of war, and the resonance between ancient and modern, read this 1,800 year old poignant letter from a Roman soldier serving far from home, then read Kurt Vonnegut’s first letter to his family after being a prisoner of war in World War II.

Reading is great and everything, but please, oh, please, remember that romantic novels can and will destroy your family!

If you thought novels were a bad influence, don’t let your family get their hands on these top 10 grimoires.

Perhaps it’s safest to stick with Beatrix Potter’s characters, who have charmed children & adults alike since 1902.

And if you are searching for new and different ways to insult someone, Oxford Dictionaries provides us with these historical insults that have become obsolete. (Although anyone familiar with the musical The Sound of Music will know the first one.)

That’s it for this week’s Top Picks Thursday! Enjoy the spring-like weather.

Spring bloom of purple crocuses and yellow daffodils

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