Posted by: Kerry Gans | November 17, 2016

Top Picks Thursday! For Readers & Writers 11-17-2016


Halloween mummy at Lambertville Library

Welcome to this week’s Top Picks Thursday! We’re about halfway through NaNoWriMo—how is everyone doing?

This week the world said goodbye to Leonard Cohen, who was best known for his music, but was also a poet.

In brighter news, C.E. Morgan, Susan Faludi and Jason Reynolds have won this year’s Kirkus Prize, and check out The New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Books of 2016.

If you want some chuckles, read Literary Agents Reject “Election 2016: The Novel.”

Holly Korbey examines how to help students develop a love of reading.

Libraries foster reading love, but they do so much more. The Dallas Public Library has launched a campaign to preserve shrines to the slain Dallas police officers, and you can help.

Roxane Gay brings “fierce women who could be as intimidating as they are intriguing” to her Marvel comic series, World of Wakanda.

To draw attention to freedom of speech, an artist is building a Parthenon made of banned books in Germany, while Sarah Nicolas lists bookish ways to fight the good fight.

Looking for a critique partner? Mary Kole is hosting a critique connection on her blog.


Roz Morris shows how to figure out the genre and age-range for your novel. In many cases, voice is the deciding factor. Libby Heily gives us 3 acting tips to strengthen voice, and Margaret Dilloway tells us how to get a middle grade voice right.

Writers juggle a lot of elements when writing. Melissa Donovan defines theme and tells how to find yours, Zoe M. McCarthy shows how juxtaposition boosts comparisons, and Janice Hardy explains the importance of an Act Three Plan.

Characters grip the reader. Jordan Rosenfeld explores when to use multiple points-of-view characters and when to avoid it, K.M. Weiland reveals a surefire way to raise the stakes in your story, and C.S. Lakin shows how to develop a strong novel concept starting with an archetype.

Editing is unavoidable in the writing life. Christina Delay discusses the first draft jungle, Jane Friedman asks: should you hire a professional editor?, Mary Kole shows how you can find the boring parts of your story, and Juliet Greenwood has structural edits for the faint-hearted.

Larry Brooks treats us to a mini-clinic in storytelling, and Janice Hardy lists 3 ways to improve your storytelling.

We all know that real life can inform our writing, but sometimes fiction can connect us to reality as well. Kim Bullock shows how to use genealogy to enhance your writing, Sabina Murray explains how fiction can get us deeper into real history, and K.B. Owen shares 7 resources for history research.

Want to know how the big guns do it? Karin Gillespie demystifies 4 traits of a master writer and how you can develop them, and Lois McMaster Bujold, a master herself, answers 4 questions about the writing process.

Need inspiration? Pat Fredshaw demonstrates how mind mapping can help organize your writing process, and Chuck Wendig lists 25 ways to unstick a stuck story.


It may come as no surprise that Penguin Random House tops the children’s book market. What may surprise you is by how much.

Joel Friedlander shares 7 signs your book is professionally published, and gives us some self-publishing basic by illustrating 5 bookbinding styles.

Roz Morris looks at traditional vs. self-publishing and find they are not so different anymore.

If you do self-publish, John Doppler gives us his KDP rules roundup, while Randy Stapilus explores the next Amazon indie offering: KDP Print.

If you’re headed traditional, Jane Friedman tells us how to find publishers and agents.

Frances Caballo answers the question: can social media really sell your books?, and Steve Laube explores the many reasons why your book might not sell.

Karen Myers explains how to design and use business cards to market your books, while June Stevens Westerfield shows how to create an author brand when you write in multiple genres.


We all feel lost and down sometimes. Here are 23 inspiring quotes  that might lift you up, and 32 beautiful quotes to help guide you through.

Unsung heroes: for 30 years a mailman named Victor Green write an essential travel guide for black motorists to steer them away from the worst of the racist areas while traveling.

For those of you who love Anne of the Green Gables, a new digital collection unveils the other stories of her creator Lucy Maud Montgomery.

Ancient manuscripts can be fascinating. Take a peek into how experts are digitizing and conserving old manuscripts, see what hi-res photography reveals about the Aberdeen Bestiary, and find out what in the world made people bind their books in human skin.

This is what happens when you are pen pals with a world renown illustrator. See the letters and envelopes of Edward Gorey and Peter F. Neumeyer’s correspondence.

The legal dispute over Maurice Sendak’s epic book collection gets wild.

So how close to the truth did Shakespeare get? A comparison of the Scottish play and the real Macbeth.

Although we five chroniclers don’t live close to each other, we do live in the same region — southern and central New Jersey and southeastern Pennsylvania — and we’re going to show our support for libraries by concluding with a photo of a local library for the next several weeks (until we run out of them!) This week, we’ll give a shout out to the Lambertville Free Public Library in Lambertville, NJ.

Lambertville Library

Lambertville Library

That’s it for this week’s Top Picks Thursday! We’ll see you on Thanksgiving!



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