Posted by: Kerry Gans | April 4, 2019

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 04-04-2019

Welcome to the first Top Picks Thursday in April! Today is National School Librarians Day, so thank a school librarian for all they do. Looking a little bit ahead, April 9th is National Library Workers Day, and the 10th is Encourage a Young Writer Day. So let’s get to some encouraging links!

The first modernist poet of Anglophone Africa, Nigerian literary icon Gabriel Okara, has died at 97.

The Cooperative Children’s Book Center has released their 2018 Diversity Publishing Statistics.

This infographic looks at the surprising reading habits of Millennials.

No matter what your reading habits, you can probably find what you want at a library. Sue Halpern writes in praise of public libraries.

Victoria Strauss of Writer Beware issues a caution about Turkish publisher Mavifil Publishing.


Although we focus on fiction here, there are other types of writing out there, such as nonfiction and memoir. Stephanie Chandler has a checklist of key components to include when writing your nonfiction book, and Nancy L. Erickson discusses writing your own life story.

Most people are familiar with craft elements such as plot and character, but there are other less obvious elements that can impact your story. Mary Kole talks literary themes in your writing, Jane Alison examines story structures beyond the narrative arc, Stavros Halvatzis discusses the basics of scene description, and Janice Hardy explains how to use story archetypes to find your plot.

Characters do, of course, carry the story load, because if the reader doesn’t care at least a little about the character, they will put the book down and not read on. Shirley Jump tells us how to create a compelling character, Juliet Marillier looks at naming characters in historical fantasy, and KM Weiland has 5 ways to use theme to create character arc (and vice versa).

Editing and revising can cause blood, sweat, and tears in some writers. Kelly Notaras tells us how to overcome “death by editing”, Janice Hardy shows how to eliminate often-used words in our writing, Zoe M. McCarthy explains that dangling modifiers don’t have the right word to modify, Jordan Rosenfeld lists 8 mundane elements you should cut from your story, and Jami Gold discusses how to keep track of story revisions.

Sometimes revisions are really rewrites. Janice Hardy explores salvaging half-finished manuscripts, and Dawn Field gives us 5 questions to avoid having your reader ask as they read your book.

For those who write legal or police stories, Stephanie Jo Harris explores how Les Miserables created a model for police procedures with Inspector Javert, Mark Alpert shares 5 tips for legal thrillers, and Clare Langley-Hawthorne shares her experience with a police ride-along.

Most writers are searching for ways to stimulate creativity and productivity. Ruth Harris tells us that new research reveals a formula for creativity, Evan James writes in praise of the “how to” creativity workbook, Paul Bonea advises using writing sprints for consistent results, and Rachelle Gardner says that sometimes drastic measures are required to make time to write.

Writing is as much a mindset as a profession. Marissa Frosch asks: do you struggle with these 5 common writing fears?, and Charlotte Leiberman examines why you procrastinate (it has nothing to do with self-control).

Jael McHenry has writing advice for fools, Nathan Scott McNamara spends an afternoon at Maria Gainza’s Buenos Aires home talking about art, criticism, and autofiction, and Bonnie Randall explores what you can learn when fiction doesn’t work.

More and more writers are writing in collaboration these days. A.E. Lowan defines what collaborative writing is, and Dan Brotzel, Martin Jenkins, and Alex Woolf share 7 tips for collaborating on a novel.


In the publishing world this week: LifeWay Christian Stores will close all brick-and-mortar bookstores by the end of the year, and 12 agents talk about writing trends to watch for at the 2019 Bologna Book Fair.

Submitting your work, whether to publications or agents, is part of the writing life. John Sibley Williams simplifies submissions to literary journals, Shana Scott reminds us that it’s okay if we are not yet ready for rejection, Janet Reid says that “start over” does not mean “you failed”, and that writing your bio section is not as hard as you think.

While our bio section might be easier than we think, marketing often isn’t—or at least feels that way. Penny Sansevieri shares the top book marketing complaints she hears, Devin at BookBuzzR  tells us how to connect with clients in the book market, and Brian Jud explains how to relax during a book sales presentation.

There are many elements of successful marketing. Lily Ugbaja gives us 3 pillars of email marketing to skyrocket subscriber engagement, Amy Collins discusses Amazon reviews, and P.H. Solomon has how to hone your elevator pitch.

Social media and blogging are prime ways writers and readers connect these days. Eevi Jones lists 5 ways to stand out as an author on social media, while John Gilstrap lays out his social media rules. Meanwhile, Jordan Peters reveals a long-forgotten technique that will vastly improve your blog, and Cristian Mihai shares 11 techniques she used to go from 0 to 25,875 readers in eleven months and reminds us that your blog is your personal brand.


William Bryant Logan walks us through a brief history of a beautiful word: spring.

As if real life isn’t scary enough, Steph Auteri lists 8 horror novels that are based on real historical events.

We know van Gogh as an artist, but reading was as compulsive as painting for Vincent van Gogh.

Take a tour through the best bookstores in all 50 states.

That’s all for this week’s Top Picks Thursday! Enjoy the spring weather and we’ll see you all back here next week.


  1. Thanks for the double blog love!


  2. Thanks for featuring my guest post!

    Liked by 1 person

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