Posted by: Kerry Gans | April 6, 2017

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 04-06-2017

Welcome to the first Top Picks Thursday of April!

In author news, Colin Dexter, creator of Inspector Morse, dies aged 86, and Robert Silvers, editor of the New York Review of Books, dies at age 87.

The Tome Society has their 2017-2018 “It Lists” out. Congratulations to all the nominees, especially friends of the blog Jonathan Maberry and Tiffany Schmidt.

“A lie travels around the globe while the truth is putting on its shoes.” Libraries and universities are working to improve digital literacy and combat fake news.

Jen Campbell discusses the time-honored trope of pairing villains and deformity.

Michelle Dean explores the importance of writers not looking away.


Ideas come in all shapes and sizes, but agents and publishers often want “high concept” ideas. Jeff Lyons defines high concept, and shows how we can create it in our ideas.

Alison Weiss has 8 ways to become an even better writer—and who doesn’t want that?

Never open with setting description, right? Well… Mary Kole tells us how to open with setting description the right way.

Shannon A Thompson talks character motivation vs. morals, while Jeff Lyons shows how to create a strong moral premise for our story.

Getting the details right is important. Alex Acks examines the “hollow woman” problem in science fiction, and Fred Johnson offers 2 ways to get violence right in fiction.

Writing takes great emotional stamina. Jessica Strawser lays out 5 reasons fellow writers are essential to your writing life, Ray Shepard reminds us that you’re ever too old to write, and Nell Boeschenstein ponders if “taste” is static or malleable.

Kathleen Jones has 6 ways to prepare for being a novelist as a retirement career, Jason M. Hough gives us musings on co-writing a novel, and Jed Herne tells us how to use active reading to become a better writer.

Balancing the writing with the business is difficult for all of us. Janet Reid discusses quitting your day job, Kim English wonders what success in publishing looks like, Melissa Febos asks if you want to be known for your writing or your swift email responses, and Nathan Bransford explores balancing writing to the market vs. writing what you love.

If you want to be a professional writer, Chuck Wendig has some things for you to consider, and Anne R. Allen tackles the myth that slow writers are doomed in the digital age.


There’s a lot authors need to know these days, and if you are self-publishing, you need to know even more. Joel Friedlander talks interior design for genre fiction, Chuck Wendig shares caveats around work-for-hire book publishing, and Marie Lamba has 6 “To Do’s” if you write.

If you are going for an agent, you need a query letter. Nathan Bransford discusses summarizing through specificity. Janet Reid gets optimistic and tells us what to ask an agent after you get an offer, and also discusses why agents try to keep subsidiary rights for their clients.

Marketing can be mind-numbing. Jami Gold addresses the boogeyman of struggling to gain reviews, Sandra Beckwith breaks down Facebook advertising for authors, and Frances Caballo gets serious with Pinterest.


Some of us find writing to a deadline stressful. How about writing when you’re dying? George Orwell wrote 1984 while dying of tuberculosis.

If you like The DaVinci Code, check out these 9 weird conspiracy theories about art.

Heavens to Darcy! Jane Austen has alt-right fans.

Take a look at 20 fantastic edible books from the world’s biggest edible book festival.

The first Texas style novel was written by…a Frenchman in 1819.

A look at Jennifer Crandall’s documentary project, Whitman, Alabama, in which “the citizens of Alabama use Whitman’s most famous poem as a way to speak about themselves.”

Here are 43 of your favorite books about complicated families.

The largest collection of Saul Bellows papers is now open for research at the University of Chicago.

A tribute to Terry Pratchett, with appearances by Terry Pratchett.

And in the latest things-you-find-when-you-clean-out-your-attic story, a Shakespearean notepad stuns an Antiques Roadshow expert.

That’s all for this week’s Top Picks Thursday! Join us next week for more links for writers and readers.

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