Posted by: Kerry Gans | November 15, 2018

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 11-15-2018

Welcome to this week’s Top Picks Thursday! Can you believe we are halfway through November already? Today is America Recycles Day, and Saturday is National Take a Hike Day. Since it will be a high of 48 degrees here on Saturday, I will not be hiking anywhere!

The world lost a great one this week: Stan Lee died at age 95. Writer’s Digest remembers him by reprinting Stan Lee’s 1947 guide to writing and selling comics.

If you are looking for ways to improve your craft or network, Diana Hurwitz has writing conferences in 2019 that require early registration, and Frances Yackel lists 7 free or cheap residencies to apply for in 2019.

BookMarks gives us 10 iconic World War I novels for the Armistice centenary, and Sam Leith explains why we need difficult books.

For those doing NaNo, Gwen Hernandez shows how to use Scrivener for NaNoWriMo.

If you have a CreateSpace account, beware. Nate Hoffelder tells us hackers are targeting CreateSpace author accounts to siphon off royalty payments.


We talk a lot about prose here, but we can learn craft from any form of writing. Jacqueline Goldfinger has a newsletter for playwrights—Page by Page: playwriting tips, tricks, prompts, and inspiration. Check it out.

Poetry can illuminate craft for prose writers, too. Pamela Donison shows how to use tips from poetry to strengthen our prose.

Once we’re ready to write, we need to deal with structure and how to start the story. Swati Teerdhala has 6 questions to help you gut check your story structure, while K.M. Weiland gves us 5 ways to successfully start a book with a dream.

And what about who is telling the story? Or whose story it is in the first place? Stavros Halvatzis discusses how to manage narrative perspective in storytelling, and Janice Hardy finds ways to describe your first person narrator.

Your story will fall flat if it seems disjointed or if some elements feel out of place. Jeanne Cavelos advises unifying your story around a meaningful theme, and Janice Hardy explains why your plot needs goals, conflicts, and stakes to work.

A common issue with writers is knowing when your story is done. We could tinker forever, so how do we know when we are finished? Kathryn Craft tells us how to recognize the finish line, Melissa Donovan clears up misconceptions about i.e. and e.g., and Roz Morris shares 16 ultimate resources to make good decisions about your book when the manuscript is finally done.

James Scott Bell discusses something we have all face: writing about experiences we’ve never had. Nuar Alsadir explores the craft of writing empathy.

Increasing productivity is something of a Holy Grail for writers. Tasha Seegmiller shares how writers can break through being stuck, and Jessie Greengrass says that having no time is the best time to get writing done.

Advice and inspiration can come from many places. Jeremy Klemin explores what Pokémon can teach us about fiction, Karen E. Bender says that if you have these traits you might be a writer, Jess Zafarris has the top 10 online writing communities, and Michelle Medlock Adams examines the noble calling of writing for children.


Many of us writers are un-agented nowadays, so we need to know our way around legally. Scott McCormick answers questions about using lyrics in books, and Stephanie Chandler helps us understand publishing contracts.

Mary Kole talks with author Shelby Wilde about how to successfully self-publish a picture book.

Think Amazon rules all? A group of rare booksellers rallied against an Amazon-owned company and won.

Farrah Penn explores a new book format—flipback or mini pocket books.

Authors spend a lot of time angsting about our queries. Janet Reid tells us what to do when you send a query with the wrong name in the salutation, and how to properly name the manuscript file you send to an agent.

Marketing encompasses a wide variety of activities—and will differ from author to author and sometimes even book to book. Shannon McGuire tells us how to reach readers better by diversifying, Melodie Campbell looks at book launch tactics that work, Reedsy shares 4 marketing tips for any children’s books, and Judith Briles has 8 steps to author success.

For more specific marketing ideas: Sandra Beckwith explains why you should skip Black Friday marketing and focus on Cyber Monday, Stephanie Chandler tells us how to sell your nonfiction book to colleges for use in their courses, Debbie Young shows how to get the most out of your great reviews, and Darren Rowse has 12 tips on how to approach influencers in your niche.

Speaking is another way to market your book. Joan Stewart shares 13 places to speak and meet new readers, while Jodee Blanco gives us things to remember when speaking publicly about your book.

Marketing online is a huge way authors connect with readers. Ohn Mar Win examines Instagram for illustrators with 10 basic tips for gaining great followers, Cristian Mihai explains how to create engaging blog content, and Jordan Peters asks us to consider when we sit down to write a blog post, what’s your purpose?


Here are 13 libraries book lovers need to follow on Instagram.

And 29 hilarious and cute tweets for book lovers.

Check out these 15 brilliant words we got from classic literature.

Writer Haruki Murakami will establish an archive of his work at his alma mater, Waseda University, in Japan.

Examining John Campbell, the man who made science fiction what it is today.

Julie Dobrow looks at how much editing was done to Emily Dickinson’s poems after she died.

Craig Morgan Teicher pinpoints the moment Sylvia Plath found her genius.

Anne Lamott extols the virtues of radical hope and laughter.

That’s all for this week’s Top Picks Thursday! Safe travels for anyone going to family for Thanksgiving, and we will see you next week.

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