Posted by: Kerry Gans | January 24, 2019

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 01-24-2019

Welcome to this week’s Top Picks Thursday! We had a taste of the polar vortex here this week, but the links didn’t get frozen! Yesterday was National Handwriting Day, for those of us who still incorporate the archaic pen and paper in our writing process.

Poet Mary Oliver passed away this week, and many tributes to her were posted, including Emily Popek’s reminiscence of lessons from her teacher Mary Oliver, and Brandon Taylor’s essay on how Mary Oliver taught him to breathe again.

SCBWI announces the 2019 Sid Fleischman Award winner.

Libraries everywhere are facing shrinking budgets and higher costs. Bob Fernandez reports on how ebooks drain library budgets, while TyLisa C. Johnson investigates the side-effects of shrinking materials budgets.

Meanwhile, the Mellon Foundation grants $2.2 million to the Academy of American Poets.

If you are looking for inspiration or information, Diana Hurwitz lists writing workshops spanning January through March 2019.


Although we focus mostly on novel-length writing here, there are many other avenues of expression open to writers. Debbie Ohi has a free picture book thumbnail template for writers and illustrators, Stephanie Chandler shows how to write your nonfiction book, and Arthur Klepchukov explains how writing and submitting short stories improved his novel writing.

We all start our stories somewhere, and that starting point may be different for different writers. Andrea Merrell reminds us that writing is a process, not an event; K.M. Weiland tells us how to create the perfect writing process for you, and Gabriela Periera shares 4 reasons to include writing prompts in your writing regimen.

Many writers’ processes begin with a character. C.D. Waller has 5 myths about writing characters, Hillary Kelly notes that the villainous bitch has become the most boring trend in literature, Janice Hardy gives us 3 ways moral dilemmas can strengthen your novel, Angela Ackerman explores showing repressed emotions, and Lisa Cron explains how to get emotion onto the page.

Craft elements can destroy or save your story. Gordon Long examines theme, Janice Hardy advises scene endings that hook your readers and avoiding repetitive sentence structure, Zoe M. McCarthy says to watch out for these often misused words, Rachelle Gardner talks foreshadowing, James Scott Bell tells us how to unsnag your plot, and Jeanne Cavelos unravels the mysteries of narrative flow.

Editing is the bane of many a writer, but it is a necessary step to get everything just right. Margaret Skea suggests improving your manuscript by editing backwards, Janice Hardy delineates the difference between critique partners and beta readers, Barbara Probst has ideas on how to work with your story instead of on it, and Sam Lipsyte reveals the key to writing: it all has to be the good part.

Many writers vow to write more in the New Year. Maneesh Sethi has a simple hack to write more and break bad habits, Yogesh Gangotia claims that writing more each day is not that hard to achieve, Bryan Collins explains how to set a writing goal that actually works, and Cara Hunter discusses writer’s block and how to un-stick it.

We’ve often heard the maxim that all writers should also be good readers. Jan Drexler explores the adventure of reading as a writer, while Meghan Cox Gurdon reveals the miraculous power of reading aloud.

Sometimes it’s hard to define what it means to be a writer, and what our own dream of “being a writer” is. David Rawlings compares the writer and the plate-spinner, Bethany Marcel discusses how to say “I’m a writer” and mean it, Lisa Tener shows how to embrace your new identity as a writer, and Kassandra Lamb explains why she dreams of being a mid-list author.


It’s hard to make a living as a writer. SCBWI brings us the results of the latest Authors Guild author income survey, while Calvin Reid and Jim Milliot break down the financial woes for writers revealed in the results.

In Amazon land, Jami Gold looks at the aftermath of the CreateSpace to KDP merger.

Distribution is always an issue for authors. John Doppler looks at the best way to distribute self-published books, and Stephanie Chandler explains how to get your book considered for placement in Barnes & Noble and other retailers.

Everything old is new again: the resurgence of the Lydian font, once the mainstay of pulp novel covers.

If you are querying agents, Janet Reid has some tips on how to prioritize your query list.

In book marketing, we need to understand how people choose the books they buy and how to get our name out in front of potential buyers. Sarah Bolme gives us 4 reasons people buy books, Dan Smith lists 15 tips for getting book publicity, Amy Collins tells us what to do when we get discouraged, and Judith Briles has 10 ways to go from so-so to sought after as an author.

Kristen Lamb differentiates between platform and brand vs. promotion and marketing, Michael Warner shows how to build a platform when you’re unpublished, Stephanie Chandler walks us through building a launch team, and Amy Maroney has the best marketing strategies for long-tail book promotion.

We also want to reach our audiences in as many different ways as we can. Michelle Balge reminds us of the importance of having a well-designed author website, Tina Dietz tells us how to make audiobooks work for us, and (for when readers are not happy with the book) Michelle Griep has 5 ways to deal with negative reviews.

Most ways we reach audiences these days is online. Jenny Hanson puts the “social” in social media, Julie Glover explores the new (and mostly improved) WordPress formatting options, and Frances Caballo shares 20 Pinterest accounts to follow for authors.

Blogs are one of the main conduits of author-reader communication. Cristian Mihai explains what blogging is all about and why no one reads your blog (and what to do about it), while David Rowse lists 6 ways to boost blog traffic this year. Cristian also shows us how to find your blogging Muse, and Anne R. Allen shares 12 tips to successful guest blogging.


Gabriel M. Schivone tackles corporate censorship—a serious and mostly invisible threat to publishing.

Erica Commisso reveals Sag Harbor: a literary outpost on the end of Long Island.

Emily Temple brings us hilarious illustrations from America’s first bestselling diet book.

That’s all for this week’s Top Picks Thursday! Stay warm and we will see you next week for more writerly links!

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