Posted by: Kerry Gans | January 31, 2019

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 01-31-2019

Welcome to the last Top Picks Thursday of January! Today is National Inspire Your Heart With Art Day. It is also “the-Arctic-Comes-To-America Day” so if you are where this intense freeze is in place, curl up somewhere warm and explore the links at your leisure.

The writing world lost some luminaries this week: Pulitzer Prize winning columnist Russell Baker died at 93. Tina Jordan compiled a list of Baker’s books to read.

Jonas Mekas—poet, memoir writer, and godfather of American avant-garde film—dies at 96.

Diana Athill, writer and editor, dies at 101. LitHub has an excerpt of her reflections on aging and life.

In awards news: SCBWI announces the 2019 Golden Kite Award winners, University of Pennsylvania professor Charles Bernstein wins the prestigious Bollingen Prize, and Rebecca Makkai and Kiese Laymon win 2019 Carnegie Awards.

Roz Morris explores whether you should take a creative writing degree or not.

How did people pass the time during the government shutdown? Some furloughed employees filled workless days with books.


For those writing children’s literature, Alex Fullerton has 6 tips for writing children’s books.

There are craft issues large and small that all impact our book—and then there are the intangibles. Jami Gold urges us to find our story’s essence, Janice Hardy has 3 mistakes to avoid when creating stakes in your story, Gila Green shows how to write beyond the 5 senses, and Arianna Lemont shares 7 online resources for creating a fantasy language.

Characters populate everything we write, so making them compelling is one of the most important jobs we can do. September C. Fawkes has tips for working with a large cast of characters, Tamar Sloan reveals the key components of a compelling character (according to psychology), Becca Puglisi shows how to use vocal cues to show hidden emotion, and Janice Hardy explores conveying emotions in your novel and the 4 kinds of death in fiction.

With all these elements to consider, it’s a wonder we ever finish writing anything! Daphne Gray-Grant helps us out with 9 ways to finish the writing you start.

Once we do finish a draft, we need to edit it. Debbie Young compiles ALLi editors’ top tips for Indie authors, Ruth Harris advises that less is indeed more, Daphne Gray-Grant has 2 little words to disarm your inner editor,  Janet Reid tells us how you know your manuscript is ready, and R.J. Crayton shows us how to use standard tools to enhance your writing and editing.

The writing life can sometimes feel like a constant struggle to avoid pitfalls, but luckily we have authors who have been through the course to show us the way through. Estelle Erasmus has 8 ways to defend yourself from writing coach scams, Agatha Bolt identifies 5 writing mistakes she made when she started writing (and still struggles with today), and Wendy Clarke examines how she survived second novel syndrome.

The writing life can be a mentally and emotionally exhausting existence where hopeful dreams collide with cold reality far too frequently. Yolanda Smith shares 3 ways writers can grow a thick skin, Grace Elliott asks: why do I have to choose between being a writer and being a mother?, Rachelle Gardener weighs in on big dreams and realistic expectations, and Kathryn Craft explores the story that may be holding us back.


With so many publishing options available today, sometimes it’s hard to know what path to take. Lisa Tener lists the advantages to both self-publishing and traditional publishing, Wattpad announces it is launching a publishing division, Heather Webb shares some hard truths from the publishing trenches, and Steven Spatz reminds self-publishers not to skip hiring a book cover designer.

Authors are always looking for more ways to make money. Joan Stewart has 9 inexpensive revenue streams for broke or struggling authors, and Steve Laube looks at the possibility of libraries paying authors.

Marketing is an ever-changing beast, but the basic idea remains the same—get word of your book out to those who want to read it. Frances Caballo shares 12 rookie marketing mistakes to avoid, and Ann Marie Nieves gives us 8 marketing tips to consider for 2019.

There are many ways to connect with the audience—through ads, through book tours, throught public appearances, and online. Stavros Halvatzis talks loglines, taglines, movie poster, and book covers for print marketing, Chris Pavone says that book tours are more than just showing up, and Mary Halton reveals a simple trick to help you speak in public without showing your nerves.

Online, there are multiple social media platforms to choose from, and the evergreen medium of blogging. Sandra Beckwith tells us what authors need to know about Snapchat, Cristian Mihai advises us what to do when no one is reading your best blog posts and gives us psychological tricks to get more blog readers, and Ali Like explains how to write short sentences and paragraphs the right way (and why it matters).


Sci-fi has always examined the world we could live in. Charlie Janes Anders explains why science fiction authors need to be writing about climate change now.

How does your worldview translate onto paper when you are Deaf? Kristen Harmon takes a look at Deaf literature.

Ruth Finnegan examines what Western literature can learn from the tropes, tricks, and themes in traditional African tales.

Emily Temple examines a state-by-state survey of literary masterpieces to find which is the most literary state.

We have two entries in the Authors-As-Children category: Jane Austen’s family says a note establishes the authenticity of a disputed portrait of Austen as a teenager, and Emily Temple explores what Virginia Woolf was like as a child.

Like J.D.Salinger? Check out this compilation of the first review of every J.D. Salinger book.

When time shows that a dud was really a gem: James Baldwin’s If Beale Street Could Talk flopped in 1974, but Barry Jenkins’ film reveals the timely masterpiece it was.

Think we’re oh-so-modern with our ebooks on our mobile devices? A Medieval book coffer shows that people’s appetite for mobile reading is nothing new.

That’s all for this week’s Top Picks Thursday! Stay warm and see you all next week for the first link-fest of February!


  1. Reblogged this on Writing To The Oscars and commented:
    Thank you guys so much for giving me a shoutout in this week’s Thursday’s Top Picks!


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