Posted by: Kerry Gans | February 28, 2019

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 02-28-2019

Welcome to the last Top Picks Thursday of February! This short month has seemed quite long to me. Check out the latest tips and advice in our latest links round up.

Every so often a plagiarism scandal rocks the writing world. Jami Gold looks at what authors and readers can learn from #copypastecris, the latest scandal to erupt, and Alison Flood delves deeper into the murky world of plagiarism.

Public libraries have been an integral part of American life for many years. Ariel Aberg-Riger brings us a visual history of the American public library, while Joseph James looks ahead to the myriad futures of libraries.

Looking for writing contests to enter? Arthur Klepchukov rounds up fiction writing contests worth your time in Spring 2019.


Every story starts with an idea. Susan Reynolds explores the science of story ideas: how to awaken your brain’s creative superpowers; while Kathleen McCleary shows how to clarify the essential heart of your story before you start to write.

Once you’ve got the idea in hand, the writing begins. Laurisa White Reyes details how to write a real page-turner, Janice Hardy discusses whether Act I should be just set-up or more and shows us how to add conflict to your scenes, Nils Odlund has 3 tips for writing action scenes, and M.L. Keller warns us to avoid “reporter syndrome” in your point of view characters.

Characters are what keep the readers reading. The Passive Voice says that the emotional arcs of stores are dominated by 6 basic shapes, James Scott Bell reminds us of the importance of bonding character and reader, and Lisa Hall-Wilson has tips on how to make dominant female characters like-able.

When you are editing, there are myriad ways to tighten and strengthen your writing. Beta readers and critiques can be invaluable if done correctly. L.S. Hawker has the quintessential guide to selecting and working with beta readers, and Tasha Seegmiller explores negotiating difficult critiques. Laura Drake looks at redundant writing and how to exorcise it, while Kathy Edens looks at what Marie Kondo can teach us about decluttering our prose. If you write nonfiction, this would be the time to see if you can incorporate any of Carrie Anton’s suggested 5 formats of nonfiction book content beyond words to make your book pop.

Writers block and time limitations often curtail our writing productivity. Ruth Harris examines the link between decision fatigue and writers block, and Deya Bhattacharya gives us the 5-minute writing session and how it can up your writing game. Rachelle Gardner suggests 8 things to do while waiting, Zoe M. McCarthy lists 5 tips for keeping writing-related tasks straight, and Tim Parks asks: do we write differently on a screen?


With more and more writers negotiating their own contracts, Victoria Strauss warns against publishers who claim copyright on edits in their contracts, and Leonard D. Duboff and Amanda-Ann Bryan explain 3 types of contracts every writer should understand.

When pitching or querying your books to agents or publishers, there are a lot of avenues to take and a lot of decision to make. Among those decisions is your name. Charity Bradford explores the use of pseudonyms, noms de plume, pen names…or not. Alex J. Cavanaugh helps us Twitter pitch like we mean it, Stephanie Chandler lays out the elements of a book proposal, and Bob Hostetler shares 3 things never to say to agents.

Janet Reid has a trifecta this week: 1) sub-rights and how they work, 2) should you include the prologue when submitting pages with a query, and 3) the difference between an agent representing you or representing your book.

Marketing is about connecting your work to the readers who want it, and certain aspects of marketing can (some might say should) start before you even write a word. Amy Collins tells us how to figure out who your audience really is, and Edwin McRae lays out how to find your perfect niche in fiction.

There’s a lot of work to do in promoting your book. Martin Crosbie explains how to set up a series page if you’ve self-published a series, Sandra Beckwith tells us how to announce your book with an email blast, Joanna Penn has 7 reasons to narrate your own audiobook, Cristian Mihai shares how to blog despite having a full-time job, and Nancy L. Erickson reveals the most important part of writing and self-publishing a book.


Lucy Foley examines the profoundly unsettling world of Agatha Christie.

In a different type of unsettled world, Louisa May Alcott landed on the front lines of the Civil War.

Benjamin Markovits parses the endless nuances of British stereotypes.

Old books are revealing secrets far beyond what’s written in them. Sarah Zhang takes us inside the lab discovering DNA in old books.

Alexandra Samuel examines whether science fiction can predict the future of technology.

That’s it for the final Top Picks Thursday of February! We’ll see you in March.



  1. Thanks so much for the shoutout. I hope your readers find the article helpful!


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