Posted by: Kerry Gans | July 20, 2017

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 07-20-2017

Welcome to this week’s Top Picks Thursday!

Author Sherman Alexie cancels much of his remaining book tour.

Sarah Bolme shares three reasons people buy books, Andre Calilhanna explores reading habits around the world.

Libraries are more than book warehouses. Gordon Wanock has 4 ways libraries expand your reach as an author.

Oscar winner Barry Jenkins is to direct an adaptation of James Baldwin’s If Beale Street Could Talk.

Sci-fi writer Octavia Bulter forged her own path in the writing world, and now her inspirational notes to herself are on display at Huntington Library in California.

All authors have heard cyber-bullying horror stories. Anne R. Allen discusses publishing cults and cyber-bullying, and has 8 rules to help keep you safe on the internet.


For those with a poetic interest, as writers or readers, Melissa Donovan discusses how to read poetry.

For prose people, Bill Ferris gives “advice” on how to give a literary reading.

We as writers hear so much about “voice”, but defining it can be difficult. K.M. Weiland gives us 6 things we need to know to improve our writing voice.

Meanwhile, Margaret Dilloway tells us how to improve our overall writing with improv.

Writing can feel somewhat like juggling, because there are so many elements to keep in the air at one time. Janice Hardy explains why “start with the action” messes up so many writers, Roz Morris shows how to add suspense to your story, Lisa Hall-Wilson uses personal vows to increase story tension, Tamela Hancock Murray wonders: should I use song lyrics in my writing?, and Kathryn Craft shows us how to raise a question to earn the backstory.

Getting the nuances right is key to creating a compelling story. Laurence MacNaughton lists 7 keys to creating bloodcurdling monsters, and Elaine Viets doesn’t want mystery clichés boring your readers.

Characters drive the story. Tonya Kuper demonstrates how to engage your readers more deeply with your characters, Martina Boone shares her character brainstorming worksheet, Janice Hardy discusses developing your characters, C.S. Lakin explains why your protagonist should have a past “wound”, and Amy Poeppel shows what playwrights can teach us about dialogue.

Writers are a different breed. David Corbett tells us how to nurture the write mind, Jami Gold asks if you have the prerequisites to be a writer, and Kim Bullock discusses motivation and making writing dessert again.

We can always learn from other authors. Penguin Random House annotates Shirley Jackson’s sublime first paragraph of Hill House, and Martha Teichner talks to mystery author Louise Penny.


We’d all like to make money writing. Joanna Penn investigates affiliate income for authors.

But if we want to be successful, Angela Ackerman reminds us that we must invest if we want a writing career.

Audiobooks are a booming market. Roz Morris has tips for narrators, producers, and authors to create an audiobook on ACX.

Also booming: comics. The North American comics market hit $1.085 billion in 2016.

Going traditional? Jane Friedman discusses pitching agents at writers’ conferences. Agent Janet Reid explores possible problems when queries are garnering lots of requests and positive feedback but no takers, and she explains what to do when you write in 2 genres and your current agent doesn’t represent both.

Visibility is key to marketing success, but how do we get it? Rachel Thompson lays out how to create pre-launch buzz for your book, John Doppler shows how to increase your visibility with Google’s Knowledge Panel, Marcy Kennedy has the basics of advertising for indie authors, Steven Spatz discusses book reviews and word of mouth, and Tamar Sloan has the top two reasons a reader will leave a bad review.

Connecting with people on the web is the best way to market these days—but you have to do it right. Sandra Beckwith walks us through naming and claiming your author website, Frances Caballo stresses to communicate—never preach—on Twitter, Bella Pope demystifies how to write a blog post people actually want to read and Darren Rowse shows how to craft an outstanding guest post.

But what if you have no social media presence or don’t want to spend a ton of time online? Jane Friedman tells us what to do if you are an author without a social media presence, Frances Caballo defines a Facebook Profile vs. Facebook Page, and Nicole Avery shows how to reduce your time on social media to increase your blogging (or other) productivity.


Love sci-fi and fantasy? Here are 27 female authors who rule sci-fi and fantasy right now.

A Philip Larkin exhibition in Hull offers fresh insights into the poet’s life.

Excitement as a new Maurice Sendak picture book is discovered.

An astronomer thinks he has pinpointed the “star” mentioned in Lord Byron’s famous poem Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage.

If you need fashion advice for a story pre-1992, check out Vintage Patterns’ 80,000+ vintage sewing patterns.

Jared Axelrod imagines the “5 other kisses” mentioned in The Princess Bride.

Revolutionary dirt: John Quincy Adams kept a diary and didn’t skimp on the details.

In our world of instant information, it’s sometimes hard to visualize how slowly news traveled back in the day. Watch this animation of how slowly news of the Declaration of Independence spread in real time.

How the Bowdlers became a byword for censorship, when all they wanted was to clean up Shakespeare.

A new cache of Roman messages has been found near Hadrian’s Wall.

The phrase “smoking gun” is everywhere—but not before Sherlock Holmes.

It’s the little things. How the Calibri font is threatening to bring down Pakistan’s government.

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


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


%d bloggers like this: