Posted by: Kerry Gans | June 30, 2016

Top Picks Thursday! For Readers and Writers 06-30-2016

Even writers need a vacation!Welcome to this week’s Top Picks Thursday links! It is the last day of June, the official start of summer, and the time of year writers with children start wondering how we can squeeze writing in with the kids tearing up the house around us.

Kelly Simmons has some amusing but sage advice on how summer writers can cope with the higher demands on their time.

Speaking of time, many writers are wondering how they can find time to write multiple books a year. Janice Hardy takes a hard look at the need to writer faster, and reminds us that how many books we can write a year is not just about the numbers.

Any movie lovers out there are probably familiar with Rotten Tomatoes, where professional critics and audience members opinions combine to rate a movie. Now books have their own Rotten Tomatoes: Book Marks.

Diversity, especially diversity in children’s literature, is a topic with growing awareness. Author Mike Jung says he wants his daughter to see herself in the books she reads, Wesaun explains how they are never whole, Kayla Whaley examines the particular invisibility of disability and sexual attraction, and Toni Morris explores how writing is a dangerous pursuit.

In honor of Father’s Day, Sean Taylor takes a look at the top 10 dads in picture books, and 7 authors write on fathers and fatherhood.

Megan Abbott reflects on what the late Lois Duncan meant to several generations of girls and the literary world.

Anne E. Cunningham and Keith E. Stanovich examine what reading does for the mind.


Writers need to consider all sorts of big-picture issues when we start a new project. Rob Bignell explains why your story isn’t its plot or structure, Linda K. Sienkiewski explores the use of second person narration in her story, Darcy Pattison gives us 23 ways to defeat the sagging middle, and Ruth Harris shows how to fix some common first chapter fumbles.

Once we’ve nailed the big items, we have the detailed elements to wrestle with. Kristen Lamb asks if you are botching your dialogue, Becca Puglisi discusses how symbols can be found in setting, Ann Garvin describes how to be funny, and Julie Glover lists 4 ways to break grammar rules with style.

Characters are a combination of big and small elements. Kate Foster explains how to make your character shine from page one, the Magic Violinist shares 6 characters your protagonist needs to have around, and K.M. Weiland has the 5 secrets of complex supporting characters.

We all search for ways to spur our creativity. Daphne Gray-Grant gives us 5 helpful hints for writing at night, Melissa Donovan shares 7 inspiring journal ideas, and Anne Janzer shows how to create a mindset conducive to writing.

More and more writers are finding the benefits of participating in a writing community. Dina von Lowenkraft explains her take on writing as a solitary undertaking, Janice Hardy shares a less lonely way to get more writing done, Larry Brooks tells a tale of two writers, and Jeff Goins reveals the surprising secret to becoming a great writer.

Heather Webb discusses what to do when you don’t want to write, Lisa Kerr explains how one writer overcame her fears and got a second chance, Steve Laube examines inspiration vs. perspiration, V.E. Schwab talks about how long it takes to become an “overnight success”, and Kathryn Craft shows how gratitude will enrich your writing life.


Alex Shephard argues that if Barnes & Noble goes out of business, it will mean disaster for books and book lovers. Stacey Kendall Glick responds.

If the old model of big box stores dies out, new models will rise to take its place. Roz Morris discusses Unbound, a combination of crowdfunding and hybrid publishing. Meanwhile, Jim Milliot takes a look at digital fatigue as a factor in ebook sales decline.

Jane Friedman has some handy questions to ask yourself when deciding whether to self-publish or traditionally publish.

A self-publisher has to know a lot about a lot. R.J. Crayton explains what the Kindle “delivery cost” is and how it affects you, and Giacomo Giammatteo has everything indie authors need to know about ISBNs for self-published books.

For a peek inside one agent’s inbox, Janet Reid shares 25 reasons she rejected queries today and how to avoid them. Meanwhile, Savvy Book Writers tells us to watch out for these legal terms in contracts.

Marketing is the boogeyman for many an author. Frances Caballo shares book marketing tips from industry experts, and Alexander von Ness explains how a book cover redesign can revamp your marketing.

Social media gets you in front of your potential audience, but with so many platforms, we could spend all our days online. Chris Syme discusses when less is more in social media, Frances Caballo explains which audience is reached by Snapchat, and Lorna Sixsmith tells how to book market with Blab.

For bloggers, Zoe McCarthy shows how you can write blog content faster, and Rand Fishkin lays out SEO for bloggers—how to nail the optimization process for your posts.


Publisher’s Weekly brings us Writers to Watch: Big Debut Fiction of Fall 2016.

Think you know your poetry? Try your hand at Encyclopedia Britannica’s first line poetry quiz.

In possibly the best editor’s letter ever, Ursula Nordstrom writes to Maurice Sendak.

Susan Adrian discusses the huge impact Meg Murray from A Wrinkle in Time had on her—and millions of girls like her.

Check out these soldier newspapers from the American Civil War.

The New Yorker retitles classic novels like Friends episodes.

Voltaire—philosopher and…scammer? Roger Pearson examines how Votaire made a fortune by scamming one of the first lotteries.

Allie Newman tells us what spilled ink and fingerprints reveal about Medieval manuscripts, and Sarah Biggs walks us through some epic battles in Medieval manuscripts: Knights vs. Snails.

That’s it for this week’s Top Picks Thursday! Enjoy a safe and fun Fourth of July to our American readers.





  1. Thanks for mentioning Dina’s post on All The Way YA! Have a wonderful week, all!


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