Posted by: Kerry Gans | March 8, 2018

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 03-08-2018

Welcome to this week’s Top Picks Thursday! March 8th is both International Women’s Day AND National Proofreading Day! So tell a proofreader how much they mean to you today.

SCBWI announced the winner of the Golden Kite for Nonfiction for Young Readers.

Novelist Jennifer Egan has been named the new president of PEN America.

Doreen St. Felix examines Chicago’s particular cultural scene and the radical legacy of poet Gwendolyn Brooks, and Ta-Nehisi Coates explains why he is writing Captain America.


Writers face a number of occupational-related health issues. Colleen M. Story discusses how to stop your computer from hurting your shoulders.

Theme creates depth to your story. Amber Lea Starfire shows how to discover your memoir’s underlying themes, Kristen Lamb examines how the collision of powerful ideas makes superior stories, and Jami Gold examines theme development in your fiction.

Plot, POV, and structure are three large-scale elements you need to master to have a compelling story. Angela Ackerman has 3 ways the setting can steer your story’s plot, Lisa Hall-Wilson shares 5 quick ways to shift description and setting into deep POV, and Kristen Lamb suggests writing your story from the end to gain narrative cohesion.

There are also smaller-scale elements to master to get your story to shine. Bridget McNulty explores some ways to effectively foreshadow plot developments, Usvaldo De Leon, Jr. has 6 ways to improve your book by writing humor, and Janice Hardy looks at the dangers of having a reactive protagonist.

Speaking of characters, there are a lot of issues to consider with them, too. Anne R. Allen gives us 10 tips to creating memorable character names, Janice Hardy warns us to check if our story has too many characters and shares the 5 points of a character arc, James Scott Bell shows us how a character should say nothing, and Roz Morris lists 6 tips for writing characters who captivate readers.

Once you’ve written your masterpiece, you need to edit it. Karl Drinkwater has a handy self-editing checklist to make your self-published book the best it can be and reduce your editor’s bill, Indies Unlimited list 6 tips for National Grammar Day, Mary Kole shows how to avoid transition words in your writing, and Melinda Clayton shares funny misplaced modifiers and other common writing mistakes.

Now you think you’re done, but before you send your manuscript out into the world, get some eyes on it. Belinda Pollard describes what makes a good beta reader, and Lisa Tener explains how to find beta readers and what questions to ask.

We all want to get better at our craft, and there is an overwhelming amount of information out there. Melissa Donovan asks: whose writing advice should you follow?, while Jami Gold wants to know what your favorite writing-related resources are.


Amazon is once again changing the playing field—and non-Amazon authors seem to be at a disadvantage.

You can’t judge a book…oh, yes you can. Dave Chesson parses 3 inspirational design ideas from bestselling book covers.

If you are thinking about launching into indie publishing, Sarah Bolme lists 7 traits for becoming an indie publisher, and Steven Spatz has 5 things you need as you begin your career as a self-published author.

If you want to go traditional, Janet Reid reminds us you ALWAYS need a query letter, no shortcuts, and she advises when mentioning a contest in a query letter helps.

Debbie Herbert describes the advantages of hybrid publishing, Steve Laube advises keeping a lid on how much money you make, and Daphne Gray-Grant tells us how to pitch stories editors will want to publish.

Janet Reid also explains what “one-time rights” means, and discusses the use of violence or other unspeakable acts in your writing.

For many authors, book marketing is a chore. Sandra Beckwith explores what to do if you are uncomfortable with book promotion, Greer Macallister delves into the art of the author interview, and Donna Galanti shares 4 ways to create your author persona.

For connecting with your readers online, John Burke has author website basics, and Darren Rowse lists 5 alternatives to self-hosted WordPress blogs.


Check out these 27 costumes that won World Book Day 2018.

Believe it or not, there was a time when Jean-Jacques Rousseau advocated for book burning.

Jane Smiley discusses Willa Cather and her legacy.

Gavin Francis examines “storyhealing,” seeing medicine and literature as two treatments of the human condition.

For those of us who have dreamed about sleeping in a library, our dreams can come true! You can spend the night at Gladstone Library in Wales.

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

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