Posted by: Kerry Gans | August 30, 2018

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 08-30-2018

Welcome to the last Top Picks Thursday of summer! I am looking forward to back-to-school, which for me means a return of writing time. Everyone stay safe at your Labor Day celebrations this weekend.

At the 2018 Hugo Awards, women clean up as N.K. Jemisin wins best novel again.

Ryan Holiday explains why everyone should watch less news and read more books instead.

Emily Temple gathers 10 little-known children’s books by famous authors.

Something I never thought much about but makes so much sense: Bonnie Randall warns of “vicarious trauma”—a danger writers need to be aware of.

Writer Beware’s Victoria Strauss has a contest caution: The Short Story Project’s My Best Story contest looks good at first, but there is cause to be wary.


All of us Chroniclers write novel-length books, but for our picture book writers out there, Jim Averback advises when writing a picture book, focus on the character’s emotional journey.

Interesting trend: Heather Webb examines if collaborative writing is on the rise, and how to make the most of it.

Getting started is sometimes the hardest part. Janice Hardy give us 3 ways to tell if a manuscript is worth going back to and shares an easy tip for developing story ideas, and Laura Drake shows us how to nail that first line.

Characters propel our stories—or they should. Polly Iyer looks at why it’s all about the character, Jim Dempsey focuses on secondary characters who help your hero, and Stavros Halvatzis explores the impact of  value-driven stories.

Revision is where we polish our story to the highest degree. Cait Reynolds gives us a field guide to the North American beta reader, James Scott Bell explains how to put some snap in your style, and Andrea Merrell reminds us don’t forget the basics.

Writers learn from every project they work on and every type of writing they encounter. A.E. Lowan lists 8 things they learned from writing their first sequel, Melissa Donovan has 10 reasons storytellers should dabble in poetry, Piper Bayard clues us in to the realities of hacking in everyday life, and Sara Letourneau discusses the art of writing out of sequence.

Constantly upgrading our writing involves digging ever deeper into the art and into our psyches. Linda Adams shares how she learned to improve her craft, Debbie Burke gives us 8 lessons from digging in the dirt, Kristen Lamb explains that fear is why humans crave stories that disturb them, and Shannon Baker and Jess Lourey flip that idea and say writers should write what we fear.

Writing is a career that takes a great deal of psychological and emotional fortitude—just staying creative can be a chore sometimes. Kristen Lamb highlights the qualities of a “real” writer, Bryn Donovan explores how to break a bad habit or start a good one, Annabel Candy has 6 proven ways to re-ignite your writing motivation, and Barbara O’Neal delves into the mysteries of creativity and meditation.

To encourage us, Emily Temple collates Ray Bradbury’s greatest writing advice, and Jami Gold reminds us all to enjoy the journey.


Big changes are afoot in the Amazon. Amy Collins explains what’s going on with CreateSpace and KDP Print.

Writers today have many paths to publication. Joanna Maciejewska gives an overview in understanding your publishing options, Kathleen Jowitt extols the upsides of being unpublishable, and Heather Havrilesky answers a writer who asks: Should I quit my day job to write a book?

Since writing is an art but publishing is a business, authors should give some thought to the money-making side of their venture. Tim Leffel urges the idea of writing for now, soon, and the future, while Rachelle Gardner walks us through how long different stages of traditional publishing take.

Professional writers have to know how to write much more than just their story. Brian Jud breaks down how to write a press release—the headline and the body copy. Mike Onorato shows us how to write a galley letter and get book reviews, and Mary Kole looks at the novel synopsis.

Marketing may be the bane of many of our existences today, but Ruth Harris uses Ian Fleming to remind us that authors have always had to hustle and look out for themselves in publishing. A few ways in which our marketing differs from Fleming’s time: Erika Liodice lays out how to create an unforgettable author visit, and Frances Caballo updates what’s new to Pinterest for writers.

One huge way authors stay in touch with their readers is through blogs. Cristian Mihai delves into what blogging is all about, Jordan Peters tells us how to find the right words, and Ali Luke tackles the perennial question: how long should your blog posts be?


Christina Lupton asks: have we ever had enough time to read?

You might go to the library to get books, but Ali Velez also has 17 cool things you can do with a library card.

We all have our favorite reading nooks, but how about writing nooks? Roz Morris wonders: where do you write?

John Larison examines where the Western meets crime fiction.

And, appropriately, we wrap up this week with 57 beautiful final lines in books that’ll send chills down your spine.

That’s all for this week’s Top Picks Thursday! We’ll see you in September for more literary links. Have a great Labor Day and stay safe!


  1. Thanks for sharing the link for “Skipping Around”! 🙂


  2. […] to literature and the arts. While I was searching for blog posts to contribute to last week’s Top Picks Thursday, I came across Emily Temple’s wonderful compilation of Ray Bradbury’s greatest writing […]


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