Posted by: Kerry Gans | April 28, 2016

Top Picks Thursday! For Readers and Writers 04-28-2016

Blue DaisyIt’s the final Top Picks Thursday in April! Our spring here seems to teeter between early summer and winter redux, but I think it’s finding its feet.

As writers, we often wonder how much to express our true opinions online. We worry about offending people and alienating readers. Deena Nataf explains why writing what we really think will make us better writers.

Some writers get nervous about writing diverse character, for fear of getting something wrong and offending someone, Elsa S. Henry gives some advice about writing blind characters and disabled characters in general.

Author Malorie Blackman discusses how closing public libraries will make it “harder to move up the social mobility ladder.


For people who write memoirs or fiction based on their real lives, resources such as family photos, letters, and stories are available. Helen Sedwick discusses the copyright issues involved in using family documentation as part of your work.

Sometimes our stories require parallel plots. But how different can they be genre-wise without causing a problem? Roz Morris explores how to successfully blend a parallel, allegorical plot into your story.

Think world-building is only for speculative fiction? Think again. Martina Boone examines world-building for contemporary and speculative fiction. World-building often includes description, and Mary Kole tells us how to add an emotional stance to description to improve characterization.

Making it about character is one way Alex Limberg suggests to make boring story parts exciting, and Michael McDonagh reminds us that stakes only matter if we care about the characters.

When we write it is important to do our research, whether it be into psychology, culture, or details of setting. Debbie Howells discusses writing novels about emotional abuse, Nora Zelevansky explains how to write teen girl characters, Saira Khan goes on the job with New York’s crime-scene cleaners, Benjamin Sobieck interviews a police officer on the best handguns for detectives in fiction, and Sandra A. Arnold takes us into the disappearing world of slave graveyards.

Some writers have a flare for certain elements of craft—almost like a superpower. K.M Weiland asks if you have a writing superpower—and explains why you shouldn’t. Michael Dirda shares Farnsworth’s Classical English Metaphor to help with your imagery, and Penny Modra and Max Olijnyk list 10 everyday grammar mistakes you might be making.

Chuck Wendig has more advice for young writers, while Carmen DeSousa reminds us that writing the perfect book is impossible.

For the easily distracted, both reading and writing can be difficult pursuits. Stephen Carver shares 15 tips on close reading, and writer Elspeth Futcher talks about avoiding distractions.

Creativity is often inspired and influenced by life experience. Bill Joyce reflects on the autobiographical information that creeps into his writing, and Chuck Wendig celebrates his 40th birthday with a list of 40 life lessons.


Google has won their copyright case against authors, allowing them to continue archiving all sorts of books.

Ruth Harris gives us a run-down of how to keep ourselves safe from the many people who prey on authors—and from our own self-defeating behaviors.

Marie Lamba explains how focused writing can help land an agent, and Janet Reid has a trifecta of advice this week. She answers the questions: How long do authors have to finish a revise and resubmit?; How do I know if my agent is paying me properly?; and How forgiving of grammar mistakes are agents?

There are a thousand ways to market, and they all take time or money. Fauzia Burke shares how to save money and do publicity yourself, Elizabeth Spann Craig explores whether pre-orders are always a good idea, and Nanette Littlestone has 5 ways to connect with your readers.


Ever wonder why there are sea monsters on old maps? David Leveille explains the monsters and strange being found on old maps.

Turning to modern day images, Condé Nast is releasing thousands of unpublished photos from its Vogue and Vanity Fair archives.

We remember Beatrix Potter as the author/illustrator of beloved children’s books, but Potter had a tragic love story in her life.

Matt Brown takes a look at 15 Charles Dickens characters with really silly names.

If you need a historical costume, check out Artemisia Moltabocca’s free historical costume patterns.

With Shakespeare’s 400th anniversary this year, Shakespearean activities abound. Allison Meier takes us inside the Shakespeare’s Potions exhibit at the Currier Museum of Art, Vladimir Jurowski discusses Shakespeare and music, Jennifer Schuessler brings us a quiz about the Bard, and Rachel Thompson and Vicky Leta reimagine Shakespearean plays as Kardashian dramas.

That’s all for this week’s Top Picks Thursday! See you in May!


  1. Great post!

    Thank you for including my post: “Writing the perfect book, movie, song, play–the perfect anything–is impossible.”

    Happy Reading and Writing, friends!


    • You’re welcome! Sometimes we all need to remember that perfection is impossible and we need to give ourselves permission to make mistakes.


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