Posted by: Kerry Gans | November 16, 2017

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 11-16-2017

Welcome to this week’s Top Picks Thursday! Halfway through November and barreling towards Thanksgiving, we’ve got a cornucopia of writerly links for you.

Playwright and screenwriter Tom Stoppard wins the David Cohen prize for lifetime achievement in literature.

Bookseller Elayna Trucker tells us how we can help Napa after the devastating fires earlier this year.

Kat Vancil shows us where to find illustrators, cartoonists, and other creative professionals we need on our publishing journey.

Tracy Cooper explores how stories, songs and rhymes encourage empathy, while Ferris Jabr examines the reading brain in the digital age: the science of paper vs. screens.

If you’re looking for something to read to your kids, check out the New York Times Book Review and the New York Public Library’s Top 10 “Best Illustrated Children’s Books of 2017” list.

Arthur Klepchukov brings us fiction writing contests worth your time (winter 2017 edition).

Halfway through NaNo, Anne R. Allen discusses why NaNoWriMo is not for everyone—and may even be dangerous for some.


Sophie Mason has some advice on writing a memoir.

Kathryn Craft demonstrates how to start with story action while accurately telegraphing your story’s genre.

K.M. Weiland has 5 (not-so-little) additions to the great novel-writing checklist.

Sometimes it is the little things that can make or break your story. Cait Reynolds looks at when body parts take on a life of their own, Gordon Long stresses that word order creates meaning, Melissa Donovan examines allusion in poetry, and Nancy E. Johnson reminds us that our story lives in the details.

Characters carry the reader through the story, so they had better be compelling. Mary Kole explains character turning points, Janice Hardy asks if your characters are too stupid to live, Becca Puglisi shows us how to brainstorm the wound in your character’s backstory, Jayme Mansfield explores being your character inside and out, September C. Fawkes has 10 methods to make your character likeable, and Laurence MacNaughton shares the ultimate guide to character motivation (part 1).

Editing makes our work shine—but it can be costly. Lisa Poisso wonders: when we pick editors, can be combine steps to save money?; P.J. Parrish takes a hard look at rewriting, and Julie Cantrell points out how writing partners help—and where to find them.

Writing is a mental and emotional challenge. Many writers face deep self-doubt every time they try to put words on the page. Julie Glover has what to do when you think your writing sucks, Kassandra Lamb shows how to beat imposter syndrome, Leonard Chang wonders how to keep his head up while seeking a publisher, Margaret Dilloway explains when other people’s opinions don’t matter, Dario Ciriello shares how to get past bad reviews, and A. Howitt interviews Donald Maass to find out how to become a breakout writer.

We would all love to write more, faster and better. J. Rose explores creating the right mindset for productivity, Andrea Judy dispels the lies behind productivity, and Grant Faulkner has practical tips on how to beat writer’s block.


Don’t judge a book by…who are we kidding? Because everyone does judge a book by its cover, Ingram Spark shares 5 tips for front book cover design.

Self-publishing is a viable option today, but James Scott Bell still advocates getting some rejection.

Agents are great places to get you some rejection. Janet Reid tells us how to successfully query an oddball story, and also gives us things to consider when you have multiple agent offers on the table.

Marketing is something authors love to hate. Andi Cumbo-Floyd examines the angsty relationship between writing and sales, Marcy Kennedy explains newsletter ads, Amy Collins looks at gaming the Bestseller list and trading reviews, Scott La Counte teaches the art of the giveaway, and Sandra Beckwith suggests you start locally with your marketing.

Online is where most reader-writer interaction happens these days. Jane Friedman delves into the requirements of an unpublished writer website, Tim Grahl debunks 5 myths about email lists, Ali Luke shares 4 WordPress formatting tips to make your posts more readable, and Frances Caballo has 50 blogging topics for writers of all formats.


Because you can never have too much Middle Earth, Amazon will adapt J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings for television.

So do you know what these weird English words actually mean?

Martha Collins examines what readers can learn from reading multiple translations of the same poem.

Kristen Yoonsoo Kim discusses Agatha Christie and her mysterious disappearance in 1926.

Flannery O’Connor’s college journals reveal that she, too, suffered from self-doubt.

If you’re looking to dress up your blogs or marketing material, check out these 1500 high-resolution images of paintings made available for free download by the Barnes Foundation.

That’s all for this week’s Top Picks Thursday! Hope to see you next week!


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