Posted by: Kerry Gans | May 4, 2017

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 05-04-2017

Welcome to this week’s Top Picks Thursday! We seem to have skipped spring and gone directly to summer in our neck of the woods. But we still have links sprouting all over the place for you!

Writers deal with a lot of rejection and failure. Ruth Harris shows us how to cope with failure, while reminding us that rejection and failure are not the same thing.

Emma Straub discusses the power of independent bookstores, while Katherine Brooks lists 50 of the best indie bookstores in America (friend of the blog Farley’s is #10!).

Lisa Lucas, the executive director of the National Book Foundation, aims to be a cheerleader for literature.

Nobel Laureates Toni Morrison and Sir Arthur Lewis will have buildings named for them at Princeton University.

In this new political climate, poetry finds renewed importance.

Readers, want to support your favorite authors but are strapped for cash? Debbie Ohi has 12+ ways to support an author, and Jody Hedlund has 10 simple ways to support authors you love.


Stories all start with an idea. Elizabeth Sims shares 4 ways to develop a great story idea.

One way to get your head around your novel’s world is to map the world. Barbara O’Neal discusses the complex power of mapping the world of your novel.

Characters are the heart of your novel. Character motivation is key to drawing in readers. Lisa Betz asks: what does your protagonist want and why can’t he have it? Character diversity adds depth to your novel. Lucy V. Hay shows how to write better diverse characters.

Once we’ve got some words on the page, we need to make it sing. Kristen Lamb has techniques to help you when your story hits a wall, Ali Luke lists 7 straightforward techniques to write better, and Julie Glover shares 4 common copy editing issues to watch for.

So how can we get the most writing out of our day? Jen Matera suggests treating your writing like a full-time job, and Jane Lebak warns you to guard your time.

Although the internet can be a distraction, it also allows authors to share their thoughts and experiences with us easily. Marie Lamba explores her dual roles of agent and author, and Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o discusses being a “language warrior” on the occasion of receiving yet another major honor: the second annual LARB/UCR Creative Writing Lifetime Achievement Award.


If you self-publish, you need an ebook and a cover. David Kudler continues his ebook formatting series with some fun CSS tricks for ebooks, and Erika Liodice explores how to create a book cover that connects with readers.

If you are seeking an agent, sometimes an agent will reply to reading your full with a “revise and resend” (R&R) letter. Usually this is good news, but Janet Reid discusses what to do when you don’t want to make the changes suggested in the R&R.

Life happens, and sometimes writing becomes the last thing on our priority list, even when we have a contract. Janet Reid talks about what to do as an author when your life goes off the rails.

Our online presence sells books these days. Penny Sansevieri shows how to use a resource we all have to raise our profile by sprucing up our Amazon Author Central page.


Check out 11 bookish feelings we need words for.

Librarians learn a lot in school, but Patricia Elzie shares some unexpected lessons from library school.

So just how many millions did Johnny Depp pay to fire Hunter S. Thompson’s ashes from a cannon?

A new poem by Yusef Komunyakaa is commissioned to honor the soldiers who fight America’s wars.

From Stephen King in Pet Sematary to John le Carré in The Night Manager, authors who’ve made cameos in the TV and film adaptations of their books.

A look at how Woodrow Wilson’s propaganda machine changed American journalism.

Cormac McCarthy ruminates on dreams and the evolution of language.

Charles Dickens called this machine “a monster”, but it helped London become what it is today.

Check out these tiny hand-bound books made by the Brontes as children.

If you are researching slavery, this amazing digital archive of slave voyages details the largest forced migration in history, with over 36,000 slave voyages documented.

When you preserve the past, you preserve the good and the bad. Kristi Westberg walks us through preserving the signs of censorship in a 16th century astronomy book.

That’s it for this week’s Top Picks Thursday!


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