Posted by: Kerry Gans | January 10, 2019

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 01-10-2019

Welcome to the first Top Picks Thursday of 2019! I may keep writing 2018 on my checks, but these links are definitely fresh off the presses.

Angela Ackerman suggests clearing the clutter to start your year right, Rachelle Gardner talks New Year’s goals, Anne R. Allen and Ruth Harris suggest we give ourselves the gift of Muse time.

Agent Laurie McLean has her publishing predictions for 2019, Anne R. Allen rounds up the newest 2019 writing scams, and Terry Hart looks into what’s new for copyright law and policy for 2019.

SCBWI lists 30 grants that they offer for writers and illustrators. Are any of them for you?

Want to read more in 2019? Elena Nicolaou complies advice on how to read more, from your favorite authors.

If you are looking for a critique group or partner, Janice Hardy has once more opened her forum for finding a writing mate for you.


A New Year brings new challenges. Jami Gold explores writer flexibility and trying new things, while Jordan Dane gives tips on writing a domestic thriller.

There’s a lot of planning that goes into starting a book. Katrina Byrd has 3 approaches to story planning, Stavros Halvatzis tells how to nail your story logline, Ban discusses world-building on the crossroads, and Kitty the Retro-Writer advises using a crime wall to keep track of a complex story.

Scenes are the building blocks of our story. C.S. Lakin has questions to consider when plotting a scene, and J.E. Martin gives us 5 ways to write cinematic scenes. Dawn Field explains how to engineer a “hook” map, Susan A.J. Lyttek shares lessons for every writer from the Gospels, and Joe Garza explores how to use clichés.

Scenes must be populated by compelling characters. Janet Reid points out that character choices are what engage readers, Lisa Hall-Wilson shares 9 tips for creating successful antagonists in any genre, Donald Maass explores the inner/outer balance, and SCBWI reminds us of the importance of a character through-line when writing biographies.

Revision and polishing are a necessary step in making your story a page-turner. Jami Gold suggests trying a different font for your draft to help find mistakes, Melissa Donovan shows how developmental editing improves your writing, and Zoe McCarthy has tips to improve your story description when using adjectives  and helps clear up some commonly misused words.

Janice Hardy muses: what do you really know about your critique partners?, Reyna Marder Gentin has thoughts on learning when and how to take advice, and K.M. Weiland gives us 4 things you should know before you quit writing your novel.

For the New Year, many writers want to increase their productivity. Lisa Bell tells us what writer’s block really is and how we can beat it, J.J. Hanna has tips on how to write more in the time you have, Tales by the Unexpected advises exercising your writing muscle, and James Scott Bell talks about setting word count goals.

Catharine Bramkamp introduces the idea of transformative journaling and why it is different from regular journaling, Patricia Bradley lists 7 things she would tell her younger writing self, and ProWriting Aid explains why you should write daily—even if you hate writing.

Finding success in writing is difficult. Kristen Lamb advises rest for success, John Gilstrap stresses the importance of networking for writers, and Shaz Kahng has 5 tips for success from an indie author.

Success is a word whose meaning will vary from author to author. Mark Alpert shares 5 ways to become a happier writer, while Lisa Tener gives us 35 superb reasons to write a book now.


In good news, indie booksellers reported a strong holiday finish.

Steven Spatz explains why audiobooks are a bad investment for independent authors, even though it is a hot and growing market.

What is the economic reality for an author these days? Concepción de León examines if it pays to be a writer, while Bonnie Baguley tells why authors should throw out their timelines for success.

Even if we find success, Debbie Young wonders: does an indie author ever really retire? We may not retire, but we will die someday, so Karen Myers investigates estate planning for your indie author business.

If you are a writer looking for literary magazine outlets, Jenn Scheck-Kahn has a list of literary magazine resources, while John Sibley Williams lays out how to balance your submission budget for literary journals.

Trying to break into traditional publishing is a hard slog. Mary Kole discusses breaking in as a picture book illustrator, Janet Reid has more advice on pitching to agents before editors, Sophie Masson examines the book contract “red line”, and Daniella Levy gives us the rejection survival guide.

Marketing encompasses many different avenues. Sandra Beckwith discusses authors and book clubs, R.L. Maizes explores how to write your debut book’s acknowledgements section, Lee Foster lists 12 SEO tips to drive traffic and sell books, and Ann Janzer lays out how to use BookBub ads to support your book marketing.

Blogging is one of the main ways authors connect with readers. Cristian Mihai talks about what to do when you don’t have enough time for your blog and explains how to write a great blog post headline. Darren Rowse gives us 11 ways to start a blog when you’re not an expert.


To Kill A Mockingbird becomes the highest grossing play in Broadway history.

Speaking of birds, what kind of writer-bird are you?

Helen Betya Rubinstein wants to move toward changing the language of creative writing classrooms.

Stephanie Kelley interviews Laura Varnam about Daphne Du Maurier and her influence on Alfred Hitchcock.

If you are interested in making your own fantasy language, Arianna Lemont walks us through how to choose sounds for a fantasy language.

In honor of New Year’s, Frances Caballo shares 20 inspirational quotes to guide you in 2019.

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

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