Posted by: Kerry Gans | August 4, 2016

Top Picks Thursday! For Readers and Writers 08-04-2016

20160803_104451Welcome to the first Top Picks Thursday of August! The dog days of summer are upon us. Stay cool and let your muse take a vacation if necessary.

James Alan McPherson, the first black writer to win the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, died at age 72.

Literary prizes bring prestige and change authors’ lives: The 2016 Man Booker Prize longlist, Viet Thanh Nguyen’s essay on the aftermath of his Pulitzer Prize, and Civil Rights legend John Lewis wins a major comic book award.

We all know that reading is essential to doing well in school—but some kids don’t like to read. K.J. Dell’Antonia describes the right way to bribe your kids to read. Science proves that reading fiction also makes you a better person, says Kristian Wilson.

Many readers get books from the library. Librarian Theresa Quill discusses how the profession has changed, and Emily Matchar looks at the future of libraries.

Kayla Whaley examines wheelchair users in fiction and the single narrative surrounding them.


Rachel Cooke talks to Ann Goldstein, Deborah Smith, and other literary translators on why and how they translate.

Ever wonder if your book is the right length? Not just for genre, but should your novel be a novella or vice versa? Ruth Harris delves into how to know what length your book should be.

Your plot has to be compelling and strong to keep readers engaged. Janice Hardy shows how to keep readers hooked through story revelations, Carola Dunn discusses how mysteries have multiple antagonistic forces to keep readers guessing, Bridget McNulty has 7 tips to plot a successful novel, and C.S. Lakin demonstrates how to layer a subplot into the novel.

Sometimes writers create shocking scenes as we write. In editing, though, we need to ask the question Jami Gold ponders: When is a shocking scene necessary vs. gratuitous?. Other issues to consider in editing are making sure you use the five senses to bring your story to life (from Sandra Havriluk), and cutting these 43 words immediately (from Diana Urban).

At times, characters come to us full-formed, sometimes they remain a mystery far into the writing process. Clare Langley-Hawthorne examines using unreliable narrators, and Barbara O’Neal explores the bedrock of character development. Dialogue can also help delineate a character. Joni Fisher delves into dialogue and subtext, while Ali Luke looks at representing unorthodox forms of speech on the page.

Every writer has sometimes felt like a fraud. Jami Gold discusses imposter syndrome and how to deal with it. Meanwhile, Jane Lebak shows how not to crush someone’s writing dream when giving feedback.

Writers want to know how to be more productive and improve our writing. Adam Rogers tells us how to become a more productive writer, Daniel Scocco compiles 34 writing tips that will make you a better writer, Jeff Goins shares 7 things professional writers know that amateurs don’t, Sage Cohen has 2 keys to unlock your writing momentum, Jessica Strawser lists 5 tips to keep writing when life gets in the way, and Jody Hedlund wonders: Is saying “I’m too busy?” just an excuse?

BookRiot’s Rincey looks at nontraditional writing styles, Lily Gurton-Wachter finds a writing niche waiting to be filled in the lack of literature about pregnancy and childbirth, and Marissa Martinelli breaks down how Pixar uses music to make you weep uncontrollably.

Liz Michalski laments that waiting is one of the hardest parts of the writing game, and Heather Webb discusses when you feel like you’re treading water in publishing.


How all the changes in book publishing and distribution will shake out is still a gray area. Glenn Fleishman comments on the “small, but noticeable, sustained, and continuous” resurgence of indie bookstores, publishing execs start a new imprint for licensed craft titles aimed at tweens, and Jenny Pierson reflects on the sorry statement J.K. Rowling’s rejection letters make about the future of book publishing.

Janet Reid answers the age-old question: When pasting pages AND a synopsis, should the synopsis go before or after the pages?

Many writers freeze up when we talk of marketing. Beth Bacon shares 11 ways to overcome marketing dread, Debbie Young shares some more book marketing shots in the dark, and Heather Webb lays out 10 steps to a successful book launch.

In case you are still wondering, Jane Friedman defines author platform for both nonfiction and fiction, and Susan Stilwell shares 3 can’t-miss tips for steady platform growth.

While many of us depend on social media to interact with our readers, Kristen Lamb shows us how to break social media dependence and create an enduring author brand. Meanwhile, Frances Caballo reveals just what social media analytics can tell us about our audiences and explores if authors need a Facebook Page, and Kate Tilton explains why we should try these 2 Goodreads features.


In an amazing find, a New York man finds enslaved ancestors bill of sale from 226 years ago.

Always wanted a reading space, but have no window seat? Julia Seales has 10 ways to create a reading nook when you don’t have a window seat.

Geoff Dyer expounds on a picture that captures why Jack Kerouac will last forever.

Looking for a gift for a bookish friend? Clarie de Louraille and April Salud share 21 book pins (jewelry) for people who love to read.

While John Adams was in Philadelphia in 1776, Abigail Adams wrote this letter to him with news of having their children (and herself) inoculated against smallpox.

For the grammar punsters among us, Erin La Rosa lists 17 corny grammar jokes.

Nathaniel Hawthorne’s story about the Fountain of Youth was populated with veiled versions of real people from the English theater.

So cool! If you want to take a peek at historical London, tour the London of yore with a gigantic new photo map.

Have you always longed to know more or understand more about the Canterbury Tales? Take a look at the Open Access Companion to the Canterbury Tales, which contains many essays to demystify the Canterbury Tales.

Just for fun: What Shakespeare character are you? I was Ophelia. That did not inspire confidence in my future.

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







  1. Thanks for the mention!


    • Thanks for the great post! We love sharing the voices we find on the web.


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