Posted by: Kerry Gans | March 31, 2016

Top Picks Thursday! For Readers and Writers 03-31-2016

Welcome to the last Top Picks Thursday of March! I cannot believe we have reached the end of the first quarter of 2016 already.

Find out how beloved author Beverly Cleary feels about turning 100.

It’s only March, but some people are already yearning for November. If you are one who can’t wait for NaNoWriMo, check out Camp NaNo, which begins April 1st.

As writers, most of us love book stores. Mary Ann Fraser shares what she learned working at a bookstore.

With the advent of ereaders, publishers and Amazon and others are tracking how you read. Clare Langley-Hawthorne wonders if tracking how people read is a good or bad thing for writers.

Got a writing problem? L.Z. Marie has weird words for writing problems—maybe even yours.


Ken Liu discusses the differences in writing sci-fi short stories vs. novels, and Gene Hult shares 9 ways to improve your poetry.

Beginning a story can be tricky. You need to pick a protagonist, pick the right place to start, and even have some idea of the plot. Martina Boone examines finding the perfect place to start your story, Rayne Hall shows how to write novel-opening scenes, and K.M. Weiland gives us the only reason you should ever choose a protagonist.

Janice Hardy explores the ebb and flow of plotting a novel, and Jacquelyn Mitchard has 8 practical tips to avoid too much plot in your novel.

Theme underlies every story we write, and for good reason. Ellen Mulholland tells us why your story needs a theme, and Jami Gold discusses what your genre’s theme promises to readers.

We talked above about beginnings, but how about your ending? Ash Krafton asks if you know your ending before writing or not, James Scott Bell has notes on the sacrificial ending, and K.M. Weiland shows how to know when to write The End.

While structure is important to creating a great story, character sells it to the reader. Ruth Harris explains why every story needs a VIP, Kristen Lamb shows that lies and secrets are the lifeblood of great fiction, Janice Hardy teaches us how to keep character motivations and goals fresh, and Jessi Rita Hoffman tells us how to write a great love scene.

Luckily for us, writers love to share their personal journeys, and we can benefit from learning from them. Ashley Hearn explains how writing fan fiction prepared her for being an author, B. Lynn Goodwin shows how to tap into the universal truths about young adults, Abbey Campbell Cook gives us 5 mistakes she made writing her first novel, and Jennifer S. Brown has 7 steps to a happy revision.

Daphne Gray-Grant tells us how to re-establish your writing habit after taking a break, Hans M. Hirschi has convention season Do’s and Don’ts, and Leah Dearborn lists 6 ways to spring clean your writing.

We close this section with some timeless writing advice and advice on how to be a modern writer. Karen Y. Bynum shares the C.S. Lewis rules for writing, and Frances Caballo lists 10 apps to help you be more efficient as a writer.


Authors need to be aware of the legal side of publishing, especially if you are a self-published author. Helen Sedwick discusses getting creative with disclaimers, while Susan Spann demystifies when a book is out of print.

Work-for-hire can often be a good deal for the author, but what about when it’s your debut book? Janet Reid looks at how work-for-hire can impact your career.

Knowing what category your work falls into is vital to selling your work and building your career. Mary Kole explains why you need to pick a category for your book, and Janet Reid warns that you may have to choose a single category to write in at the beginning of your career.

Marketing is all about author platform, but some people are still confused as to what exactly that entails. Jason Garcia tells you everything you need to know about author platform. Platform often includes blogging and Facebook. Jane Friedman explores effective blogging for writers and whether you need a Facebook Page vs. Profile.

Fauzia Burke lists 3 tips for marketing your books online, and Marcy Kennedy shows how to create taglines that work.


Rebecca Hussey shares 21 ways to get your hands on books.

Think laptops are modern inventions? Meet the laptops that powered the American Revolution.

When women couldn’t write—they embroidered. Explore the subversive history of women using thread as ink.

In the 19th century, they didn’t have Instead, they found love through Valentine writers and flirtation cards.

Chris Callaghan lists 10 reasons you should eat chocolate while reading.

That’s it for this week’s Top Picks Thursday! We’ll see you in April!


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