Posted by: Kerry Gans | May 25, 2017

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 05-25-2017

Welcome to the last Top Picks Thursday of May! We hope everyone enjoys the Memorial Day weekend. Have fun, stay safe, and remember the men and women who died to protect our freedoms and our country.

Author Jean Fritz, who wrote history books for children, died at 101 this week.

Lee Wind has the SCBWI 2017 Crystal Kite Award winners!

Wendy Sparrow explores the importance of “own voices” in diversity, Sheba Karim discusses belonging as a Muslim YA author at a Tennessee book festival, and Harlem playwright Shaun Neblett honors the works of Malcolm X and Lorraine Hansberry at the I,Too Art Collective.

Scholastic research shows that more ebooks and independent reading time are needed in U.S. schools. Suggested reads could be this graphic novel about managing friendships, or these books recommended by indie booksellers.

Laura Brown discusses the nuances of writing American Sign Language in a story. How do you write a visual language?

The Brooklyn Public Library starts a trend: drag queens as public libraries’ newest storytellers.

Publishing is an evolving business. Kathryn Craft examines a publishing decade in review, while Jane Friedman looks at key publishing paths in 2017.


Classic literature is classic for a reason. Gloria Steinem calls The Handmaid’s Tale “a rare book, and the only novel I know, that portrays reproductive freedom as the basis of everything else.” and Langston Hughes still reigns as a poet for the unchampioned.

Kathryn Craft examines warning flags when writing about true events.

Writers can learn craft from many sources. Andrea Jury discusses what tabletop gaming taught her about storytelling.

Your book needs to take place somewhere, so why not make the setting memorable? Michaela Whatnall explores fantastic settings and how to write them.

Writers want readers to love their protagonist, but what about the antagonist? Jordan Dane explains how showing your baddie R-E-S-P-E-C-T can make them memorable. Your other characters need to carry their weight, too. K.M. Weiland shows how to take advantage of your 4 most important characters, Jonathan Vars shares 3 more lesser known archetypes, Bonnie Randall discusses character minutiae and seemingly irrelevant details.

When the book is done, it needs editing to make it well done. Blake Atwood describes what it’s actually like to work with a book editor, Stephane Dees investigates whether long-term critique partnerships are myth or magic, Jerry Jenkins tells how to become a demanding self-editor, P.J. Parrish examines how to get out of rewrite hell alive, and Colin Dickey discusses the fraught and often invisible work of editors.

Want to be more efficient? Nicole Dieker says forget your endless to-do list and try time blocking instead.

William Kenower examines a writer’s worst fear, and Hannah Ross discusses your daily writing pleasure.

Do you love writing in coffee shops? Sarah Degeorge gives 4 guilt-free reasons to love coffee shops.

We all have them—“practice” novels tucked in drawers or on hard drives. It would be so easy to publish them these days… But Anne R. Allen gives 10 reasons NOT to publish your practice novels.


If you freelance or are an indie author, you may be wondering what the best business entity for your taxes is. Jonathan Medows explains sole proprietorships, LLCs, and S-corps, and the pros and cons of each.

David Barnett looks at the new Amazon Charts, to see what it means for the book industry.

Rachel Deahl asks: is mass market dying or just evolving—again?

If you need cash for your book project, Nicholas Forristal tells us how to set up your book’s Kickstarter campaign.

Jami Gold shares some self-publishing resources for fun and profit.

If you are formatting your own book (or marketing materials), Joel Friedlander warns us to look out for these elements of bad typography.

Bill Ferris has 8 great traits of great book titles.

Sending queries is part science, part art. Tamela Hancock Murray tells how to make her jump off the fence, Steve Laube talks typos, Dan Balow examines test marketing books, and Jane Friedman wonders how much you should personalize a query letter. Agent Brooks Sherman will join Janklow & Nesbit as a literary agent on May 23, continuing to represent fiction for young adult and middle-grade readers, picture books, select literary and commercial adult fiction, and nonfiction in the areas of humor, pop culture, and narrative nonfiction.

Marketing your books can be difficult. Kate Sullivan shows us how to do smart Goodreads marketing, Paul Teague discusses email marketing for authors, Carolyn Howard Johnson has 15 book publicity commandments, and Chris Sim examines how keywords impact sales.

Ali Luke investigates how to blog consistently when you have very little time, and Chuck Wendig serves up a hot steaming stack of business advice for writers.


One of my favorite books: learn the true story behind Mrs. Basil E. Frankeiler and her mixed-up files.

Are we dating ourselves? The Librarian of Congress (Carla Hayden)weighs in on why card catalogs matter.

Matt Zoller Seitz explores how TV’s best shows are taking their cues from literature.

William Friedkin walks what remains of Marcel Proust’s Paris, from his former apartment building to the lycée where he wrote his earliest stories.

Lidia Yuknavitch reviews Neil Gaiman’s audiobook of Norse Mythology.

Surprise! The Icelandic translation of Dracula is actually a different book.

Lest you think authors only have adventures in their heads: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle went on his own adventures—to the Arctic.

Literary women examined: an online exhibit of Charlotte Bronte letters and fantasy, an exploration of Dorothy Wordsworth—writer, sister, and amanuensis; and six portraits that deepen the mystery of Jane Austen.

Ever wonder what it would have been like if Jane Eyre had email?

Discover why a modern cosmetics company is mining Armenia’s ancient manuscripts.

Jessica Bakkers brings us a thorough comparison of US vs. UK English.

Beware the dangers of reading in bed!

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

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