Posted by: Kerry Gans | May 5, 2016

Top Picks Thursday! For Readers and Writers 05-05-2016

Pink rose for Mother's DayWelcome to May’s first Top Picks Thursday! Writing links are in full bloom here.

We all know reading can change your life. Andrew Merle explores the reading habits of ultra-successful people. Yet there are times when you should just put a book down. If you are a teacher, Julie Lucash and Sarah Donovan share their top 10 books (plus 10 more) to start a junior high classroom library.

Publishers and readers are calling for more diversity in books. Karama the Blerdgurl lists magical books with black girl protagonists, and L.J. Kelley discusses avoiding stereotypes when writing an epileptic character.


Even prose writers can use some poetry in their writing. Jacqui Murray shares 15 tips for writing poetry.

We get a new idea, we’re excited, and the words fly from our fingertips. But something happens as we get deeper into the story. The words come harder, and sometimes we…just…can’t… quite…reach…The End. So how do we finish?

K.M. Weiland has 6 tips to help you finish your book, Kristen Lamb lists 5 reasons your story is stuck, and Janice Hardy has a 2-part series on getting past stuck and staying focused to get your novel to the finish line.

Sometimes writers need to visualize our plot to know if it’s working well. Martha Alderson shows how to use a plot planner to see your plot’s shape. On the other hand, Delilah S. Dawson provides a demo for taking an idea from a seed to an entire book.

The things that keep readers from falling into the world of our novel are often the intangibles—things we writers consciously think about, but readers don’t. Larry Brooks discusses concept vs. premise and the inherent opportunity in understanding the difference, Jane K. Cleland says to reveal answers slowly to build suspense, and P.J. Parrish explores good metaphors.

Jami Gold explains why, if you want a strong character arc, you should start writing from the end, Alex Limberg show us how to fix common dialogue problems, and Frank Richardson explores the art of the long sentence.

Reading triggers the imagination of our readers, immersing them in our world. Jami Gold looks at the various skills that go into building a movie in our reader’s mind, including detailed worldbuilding. However, you can have too much detail, so Jody Hedlund shares 3 cautions for adding research into stories.

There are many issues that interfere with our creativity. Jennifer Blanchard asks if you are a creator or a consumer, Writing and Wellness has 7 ways to overcome destructive self-criticism, and Rachel Thompson examines the reason sharing your story helps you thrive

Distraction is also one reason we are less productive than we would like. Gwen Hernandez explains how to work without distractions in Scrivener, while Angela Quarles lays out how to organize your hard drive to save you time when searching for files.

We’ve all wondered at times if we should just give up writing—or at least give up trying to publish. Kristen Lamb discusses author despair and what to do when you feel all is lost, while Jody Hedlund shares encouragement for writers who don’t know if they should keep going.


Amazon switched their Kindle Unlimited to a pay-per-page payment model. Alex Hern explains how authors lose out again in Amazon’s pay-per-page scams. Also at the Zon, Amazon Marketing Services now offer marketing programs for small publishers.

Len Riggio, founder of Barnes & Noble, announces his retirement.

Agent Janet Reid discusses what to do when you have the same name as someone else on the web, and warns against paying for a third party to query for you.

Marketing is a maze of choices for writers. Janice Hardy shares how to promote your book, and Kirsten Kieffer details how to grow an amazing fiction readership. Ricci Wolman tells us how to market your book using content marketing in 5 easy steps, and Anne R. Allen gives 10 tips for using guest blogging as a successful marketing tool.


If you love books, you can relate to these 15 slightly odd things all book lovers have done.

Explore the real history behind The Game of Thrones.

Rick Riordan discusses Percy Jackson, modernizing Greek myths, and getting kids to read.

400 years later, Shakespeare is still on our minds. Loretta Chase discusses Shakespeare’s buildings lost, found and recreated; Robert McCrum explores Shakespeare in America from Plymouth Rock to West Side Story, and Elizabeth Waters shares free Shakespeare-related websites and resources for those who are trying to learn English.

For an editor in 1800 Scotland, the best way to document a brutal local murder was to publish an epic poem about the crime.

That’s all for this week’s Top Picks Thursday! See you next week.

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