Posted by: Kerry Gans | July 19, 2018

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 07-19-2018

Welcome to this week’s Top Picks Thursday! We’re halfway through July, so celebrate by taking advantage of National Hot Dog Day to fire up the grill!

Taking a stand against censorship, the Authors Guild demands a police organization stop pressuring a school about its summer reading list.

Offering writers an avenue to creativity, one bookstore is starting an author in residence program, and Alex Green looks at how the smallest independent bookstores in America make it all work.

Literature can influence as well as record cultural mores. Donna Ferguson reports on male authors steering boys away from toxic masculinity with gentler heroes.

Love poetry? Good news! Young writers are leading a poetry comeback.

Victoria Strauss of Writer Beware brings us a vanity publishing alert: Novum Publishing and its spinoffs.

For those wondering what you can do about the issue of immigrant children prisons, SCBWI shines a light on illustrators helping to protest the immigrant child prisons on the border.


We talk fiction here, mostly, but there are many genres in fiction. This week we fielded a plethora of genre-specific posts. Find the ones you like best and read on!

Biography – Charlotte Gray examines how technology is changing the future of the biography.

SciFi – Andromeda Romano-Lax asks:  how can fiction predict a future that’s already happening?

CrimeHow Raymond Chandler reinvented himself and the crime novel.

Thriller – Thrillerfest award nominees weigh in during a “state of the thriller” roundtable.

Espionage – Piper Bayard tells us how to nail the character of an espionage hero in your spy novel.

Children’s – Ruth Franklin asks: How should children’s books deal with the Holocaust?

Creative Non-Fiction – Kayla Dean explain how to write about commonplace experiences in creative nonfiction.

Graphic Novels – Steve Kissing walks us through writing and publishing a graphic novel from start to finish.

When we start a story, almost all of us have some story structure in mind, even if it as an unconscious level. As writers, though, we need to make structure a part of our conscious process to make our story as strong as it can be. Joyce Sweeney shares the structure template called the plot clock, Renea Guenther lists 6 things to consider when structuring your novel, Joanna Penn talks series structure with 7 continuation issues to avoid, Laura Laakso touts the benefits of planning your novel, and Kathryn Craft explores when perspective is the story.

We all want to be original and unique, to create compelling page-turners. But how, when it seems someone has already written everything under the sun? Nils Odlund confronts the quest for originality, K.M. Weiland explains how to write unique themes, and James Scott Bell shows how to create tension between the lines.

There are many small details in writing that can make a big difference. Adam O’Fallon Price looks at semicolons and the rules of writing, Melissa Donovan explores denotation and connotation in poetry and prose, Debbie Young examines the right balance for speech tags, and Orly Konig has 3 ways embracing the prickly synopsis can help your writing.

Editing is essential to success as a writer. Jennifer Xue shows how an editing app can increase writing productivity, Rachelle Gardner explains why you need a good editor, and Denise Loock has 10 things you never say to an editor.

Sometimes, no matter how excited we were at the beginning of the writing process, we hit a wall where we don’t want to write any more. Should we push on or give up and move to another project? Marcy Kennedy has some advice on what to do when your writing stalls out, Janice Hardy has 5 reason to give up on your novel (and one reason not to), and Mary Kole reminds us that sometimes that “don’t wanna write this” feeling is the right instinct to listen to.


Jane Friedman takes a look at the publishing trends for traditional publishers in the first half of 2018.

Nate Hoffelder highlights the Amazon updates to the KDP rules to discourage book stuffing.

Indie authors, Alinka Rutkowska shares how to get your book into libraries.

Want to see your work on the screen? Chris Lee examines how Wattpad is rewriting the rules of Hollywood.

Judith Briles asks: Who are you going to acknowledge in your book?

Agent Janet Reid warns us to be careful of consistency errors if you revise as you submit, and she answers the question: Do you have to notify other agents of an R&R (revise & resend) request?

Marketing takes on many different forms. Jami Gold discusses unique codes for ebook in-person giveaways, Nate Hoffelder guides us through author swag to sell or give away, Judith Briles has 12 tips for marketing on the web, Jodee Blanco shares speaking tips for authors, and Kristen Lamb decodes why your books aren’t selling.

Anne R. Allen tells how blogging can jumpstart a writing career, Crisitan Mihai gives us 4 simple steps to writing blog posts faster, Frances Caballo has 4 steps for those not sure how to blog, and Dana Kaye lists 10 things you should stop doing in social media immediately.


Books and films often go together. Jamie Jirak, on the 30th anniversary of the film Die Hard, looks at the 1979 novel that inspired it, and Helena Fitzgerald argues how Magic Mike XXL is basically The Odyssey.

Yiyun Li examines the romance and the reality of a writer’s life.

Ever wonder why it’s so hard to stop reading books you don’t even like?

Arianna Rebolini is buzzed about these travel posters based on famous novels, while Electric Literature suggests you plan your next vacation with this literary map of the UK, and think about exploring these literary secrets of Wimbledon.

For summer reading, pick up these 10 books that will make you smarter in every way.

Done reading? Here’s some ideas where to donate books you no longer need.

Michele Mendelssohn brings us the story of when Oscar Wilde met Walt Whitman.

Happy 67th birthday  to The Catcher in the Rye. Here are some of the first reviews from 67 years ago…and 100 of the best 0ne-star reviews from today.

Now that’s old. In Athens, archaeologists discover what is thought to be the earliest written record of Homer’s Odyssey.

That’s it for this week’s Top Picks Thursday! Safe grilling everyone, and we’ll see you back here next week for more writerly links.




  1. Thanks for sharing my article!


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