Posted by: Kerry Gans | March 14, 2019

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 03-14-2019

Welcome to this week’s Top Picks Thursday! In addition to being Pi Day, today is National Potato Chip Day, National Children’s Craft Day, and (for us) National Write Down Your Story Day. So let’s get writing…

Will your writing ever garner you a Nobel Prize? Who knows? After last year’s debacle with no Prize presented for Literature, Carrie V. Mullins asks:  do we still need the Nobel Prize for Literature? And Calvin Reid looks at the changes made to the Prize process and its return in 2019.

In other prize news, Kelli Jo Ford wins 2019 Plimpton Prize, and Benjamin Nugent wins Terry Southern Prize.

While the demand for more diverse books rises, some authors are worried about writing diverse characters and getting pushback for it. Bharat Krishnan walks us through how to authentically write diversity in our stories.

Want to know which books are truly great? OCLC looks at the top 100 novels most widely stocked in libraries around the world.


Many writers like research, but dislike writing a query or synopsis. Yet all these things can help with story-level issues in your work. Alma Katsu shares tips for complex historical research, Susan DeFrietas explains how your query can reveal story-level problems in your book, and Ammi-Joan Paquette gives us 4 steps for perfecting your synopsis.

Lots of craft elements intertwine to build your story and they all impact each other. K.M. Weiland discusses the triangle of plot, character, and theme; Cindy Sproles talks cliffhangers, and Jami Gold explores what makes a story uplifting.

Our protagonists are key to keeping readers turning the pages. Antonio del Drago examines the hero archetype and the hero’s journey, Janice Hardy has a practical guide to using character archetypes in your novel, Donald Maass delves into dark protagonists we love (and why), and James Scott Bell wonders if every lead character need an arc.

Kristen Lamb lists 7 ways to self-edit effectively and save yourself money. When you edit, don’t forget to look at the dialogue—Elaine Viets shares tips on writing realistic dialogue.

Productivity is the watchword of our times. Joel Friedlander gives us 13 tips for the work at home author, Roni Loren reveals the surprising results of her self-imposed 30 day social media ban, and Ali Luke ponders if you should give up on writing when you have kids.

The writer’s life is like no other, but has much in common with other creative pursuits.  Ennis Smith tells us how becoming an actor taught him to write, Garth Greenwell muses on what it means to live the writer’s life, and Julie Glover has some tips to bring the fun back into our writing.


If you are a mystery writer, check out Debbie Burke’s list of recent shakeups in mystery publishing news.

For indie authors, there’s a lot to know beyond how to write a good book—you need to design it, publish it, and sell it. Sometimes you need to get rights back from a traditional publisher before you can resell your backlist. Elizabeth S. Craig discusses rights reversion and what happens after, David Kudler shows how to get ebook typefaces right, Melinda Clayton examines KDP vs. IngramSpark, and Russell Phillips explains how to use local booklinks to sell your ebooks.

Is indie publishing right for you? Joanna Penn looks at the pros and cons of traditional publishing vs. self-publishing.

Janet Reid calms a skittish author who accidentally sent queries to two agents at the same agency.

Marketing falls heavily on the author these days. Rachelle Gardner discusses how to create your own marketing team, Sophie Masson lays out how to plan your own book launch, and Chrys Fey lists 6 gadgets to take to that launch and every book event thereafter.

Much of our reader contact is online nowadays. Cristian Mihai tells us how to build an audience for your blog, Scott McCormick shows us how to use Tumblr to promote your book, Frances Caballo has 9 tips on using Instagram, while Matt Smith explains 5 Instagram analytics tips you need for 2019.

Sometimes online platforms don’t last. With Google+ going away, Anne R. Allen wants to make sure we have all unGoogled ourselves on our contact pages.

Online contacts rock, but face-to-face has its place. Zoe M. McCarthy explores why we should spend the money to attend writing conferences.


Take a look at the 32 most iconic poems in the English language.

Michael Moorcock examines H.G. Wells, a reluctant prophet.

For mystery lovers: Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple will be returning to television in a new series.

In a herculean effort, archivists are digitizing Slovakia’s literary heritage for posterity.

That’s all for this week’s Top Picks Thursday! For those readers of Irish extraction, please celebrate St. Patrick’s Day safely!

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