Posted by: Kerry Gans | March 28, 2019

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 03-28-2019

Welcome to the last Top Picks Thursday of March! March is going out like a lamb here, and while we are enjoying some warm spring weather we can peruse this week’s literary links.

This week we lost author of books for children and young adults Marjoire Weiman Sharmat at age 90 and poet Linda Gregg at age 76.

We had lots of award announcements this week: the Lukas Prize Project Awards were announced, novelist Tommy Orange wins the Pen/Hemingway Award, and an interview with the winners of the National Magazine Award for fiction.

Are you wondering what’s in your future? Jeanna Kadlec has spring 2019 horoscopes for writers.


Writing for audio is a little different—Jules Horne discusses attunement.

Stephanie Cowell shares the ghost worlds within: a novelist’s journey.

We learn from everything we read and write. Dave King reveals the lessons of genre.

Big picture craft elements can be hard to work with, as they intertwine every scene. William L. Hahn reminds us to be sneaky with world building, Janice Hardy wants us to understand and control our pacing, and K.M. Weiland lists 4 pacing tips to keep readers’ attention.

As important as the large elements are, the small elements can also have a huge impact. Kristine Kathryn Rusch explores punctuation, voice, and control, Chris Winkle looks at novelty in storytelling, Sara Lettourneau  uses the P.A.S.T. method of flashbacks, and Janice Hardy tells us to make readers care by defining the stakes of your story.

Stakes have no meaning without the characters they matter to. Angela Ackerman shows us how to create characters who clash, Maria Staal lays out how to make flat characters real, Margot Kinberg examines the relationship between characters and the houses they live in, and Diana M. Pho explains how to write characters whose experiences are outside your own.

All characters have to do something for a living, and they have to be knowledgeable about something. Angela Ackerman uses the Paleontologist entry from the Occupation Thesaurus to illustrate how occupation and character traits entwine, and Piper Bayard and Jay Holmes give expert testimony on firearms: what can’t be silenced.

Editing your work is tough. Barbara Lynn Probst delves into the use of beta readers to help raise the level of your writing. Hearing your writing read aloud is also an excellent way to catch mistakes, but who will read it to you? Daphne Gray-Grant suggests having your computer read your writing aloud, and Don Massenzio gives detailed instructions on how to make your computer read your work to you.

Write more, write faster, write better! Writers are always seeking the Holy Grail of productivity. L. Penelope advises bullet journals and planning, Janice Hardy tells us the secret of how to get an extra novel written in a year, Dale Berning Sawa examines how to work from home and stay healthy, and Steven James has tips to boost your creativity.

We all can learn from other writers. Jordan Dane shares 8 key questions for every writer, Emily Temple shares writing advice from Philip Roth, and Pamela S. Thibodeaux lists 9 writing tips.


Erica Verrillo has 3 publishers looking for authors, no agents required. If you already have a career going, Pro Writing Aid suggests you supercharge your author career with a series. And if you self-publish, take a look at the best tools to self-publish a book on a budget.

The online world can be confusing and rough for authors. Judth Briles demystifies the ecosystem of Amazon book review policies, and Susan Spann explains how to prepare and use a DMCA takedown notice for pirates.

Janet Reid lets up peek into the life of an agent with reasons why she passed on manuscripts and how agents prioritize their communications.

Marketing is a beast with many arms—face to face, email, and the press, to name a few. Lisa Cooper Ellison discusses schmoozing for introverts at conferences, L. Penticoff explores what swag works best as author giveaways, Ann Marie Nieves has 9 tips for the art of the book event, Janet Reid shows why authors need a mailing list even before they are published, and Brian Jud tells us how to write a press release.

A major marketing channel these days is online. Kas Szatylowicz has 5 ways to build an engaged community on social media, Jess Zafarris gives us 47 writing Subreddits to explore, and Frances Caballo advises using Instagram stories to pep up your Instagram account.

Blogging is a favorite way writers connect with others. Nina Amir explains how to use blog-book synergy to reduce content creation stress, Jordan Peters asks: are you creative enough? And Cristian Mihai tells us how to get people to read every single word you write.


Margaret Leslie Davis follows the quest to acquire the oldest, most expensive book on the planet.

Are you a TV fan? Matthew Komatsu explores why Tim O’Brien agreed to write for “This Is Us”.

Franco Moretti discusses Western vs. noir: how two genres shaped postwar American culture.

We’re used to paper books and ebooks, but Andrea Oh shows us 6 books made of weird materials.

That’s all for this week’s Top Picks Thursday! See you next week for the first link-fest of April.



  1. Thanks so much for the shout out! Honored to be included in Top Picks.


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