Posted by: Kerry Gans | May 3, 2018

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 05-03-2018

Welcome to the first Top Picks Thursday of May! Today is National Garden Meditation Day, so get out there, meditate, and brainstorm some new writing ideas!

We’ve just finished Poetry Month, but that doesn’t mean poetry has gone away! Molly Crabapple discusses Julia de Burgos, Puerto Rico’s greatest poet, and Chris Harris wonders when, exactly, do children start thinking they hate poetry?

The Golden State Killer is in the news, so Erin Bartnett examines the book that helped crack the decades-old murder case.

Libraries and book stores are gold mines for readers. Abby Hargreaves dispels the myth that librarians read all day—but says they should, while Literary Hub explains why we need to support independent bookstores.

#OwnVoices is a push to increase marginalized voices in our literature, and Bran L. Ayers explores what exactly #ownvoices means for authors and readers.

Some non-American viewpoints can be found here, with these South American women authors the U.S. has overlooked.

Mother’s Day is coming! Here are the top 5 bookish Mother’s Day gifts for book-loving moms.


Sometimes we learn more through our failure than our success. Roz Morris shares what she learned about writing novels by failing at short stories and how to make a short story into a long one.

A story with no plot isn’t a story. Glen C. Strathy has how to plot a book in 8 easy steps, Steven James gives us the 3 questions that will solve every plot problem you’ll ever have, and Stavros Halvatzis explores the link between story structure and strong emotion.

Ruth Harris kicks it off with how to write a great first sentence, while Janice Hardy reveals a tip for getting through hard-to-write scenes.

Characters make or break your story. Jim Dempsey shows how to keep your characters consistent, K.M. Weiland discusses what your characters should talk about, J.M. Williams advises us of the problems with quirky dialogue tags, and Janice Hardy tells us how to eliminate characters from your novel.

Research makes our work shine. Sue Coletta extols the benefits of eavesdropping on Quora, E.L. Skip Knox lays out a history of pirates, and Debbie Burke shares information about cadaver dogs.

Editing brings all the elements of craft into focus. Julie Glover reveals the 5 stages of editing grief, Peter Selgin advises how to use adjectives wisely and judiciously, and Jodie Renner has tips and tricks for catching all those little typos in your own work.

Writing can be mentally taxing, and sometimes we need to step away. Erika Liodice discusses how to find your way back to writing, while Barbara O’Neal reminds us of the importance of a private writing habit.

We are lucky to live at a time where experienced authors can so easily share their knowledge. Shereen Lee interviews author and activist Sandra Cisneros, and James Cameron worries about our relationship with reality.

Jenny Hansen conveys 10 success tips from Stephen King, Michael Gallant advises us to imagine the page as you write your book, and Heather Webb tells us how to write through the “shoulds”.

Some writers are forever hobbyists, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. But if you do want to make the leap to professional writer, there’s a lot to deal with along the way. Mark Alpert gives us how to become a professional writer in 9 not-so-easy steps, R.J. Crayton details the legal use of real places and products in your novel, and C. Hope Clark walks us through the 5 emotional stages of publishing a book.


If you’re a self-publisher, Mandy Wallace has 15 (mostly) free tools to DIY your self-published book.

Cyndy Etler has the key to how to become a bestseller.

The synopsis is a chore most writers dread. Kristen Lamb explains why every writer needs a synopsis, and Glen C. Strathy kicks in his tips on how to write a synopsis.

Our own death is never easy to contemplate, but in the case of our business interests it is necessary. As Jane Marlow points out, your royalties keep coming after your death, so you need to lay out where they go.

If you are agent seeking, Nathan Bransford tackles the often fraught subject of when to follow up with a literary agent.

Marketing! Debbie Young examines the place of bricks-and-mortar bookstores in the indie author’s book marketing campaign, NancyL. Erickson explores how vulnerability is a way to establish trust, Jami Gold discusses making videos with Lumen5, and Belinda Griffin explains why authors need to budget for marketing.

Electronic marketing often gets us the most bang for our buck. Sandra Beckwith has 35 book-related Instagram accounts every author should follow, while Frances Caballo addresses both 10 ways authors can grow a Facebook group and how to effectively use email marketing.


If you don’t like frightening things, here are tips for reading scary books when you’re a scaredy-cat.

But creepy stories have a definite pull on our psyches. Craig Hubert traces the strange cinematic history of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and Iris Veysey follows 200 years of Frankenstein on stage and screen.

Liam Heneghan explores how children’s literature leads us to the uncanny.

In a bizarre turn of events, the 2018 Nobel Prize for Literature may be cancelled amid a sex abuse scandal.

Maddalena J. Zaborowska documents the last days of James Baldwin’s house in the south of France.

We all know that English is a complicated, often head-scratchingly confusing language. James Harbeck explains how the English language became such a mess.

That’s all for this week’s Top Picks Thursday! Join us next week for more links!




  1. Thanks so much for the shout-out to Writers in the Storm! Great list of links.


  2. Thanks for the shout-out! Much appreciated. I’ll have to explore the other links.


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