Posted by: Kerry Gans | June 13, 2019

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 06-13-2019

**If you missed our coverage of the Philadelphia Writers’ Conference, here are Days One, Two, and Three.**

Welcome to this week’s Top Picks Thursday! Tomorrow is Flag Day, so take a moment to admire the beauty of our flag and the best of what it symbolizes.

The big publishing news is the sale of Barnes & Noble to Elliott Management (more articles in the Business section below).

Kay Keppler takes apart a study to find out what matters to readers.

Check out this free Braille and talking book program for veterans.

Good news for graphic novel and comic lovers! The American Library Association is ready to shake things up with comics.

Looking for some professional development? Diana Hurwitz lists writing workshops from July to September 2019.


Diversity in our stories is something many of us strive for, but some writers are wary of adding in people of other experiences than their own for fear of offending someone inadvertently. Nancy Johnson tells us what white writers should know about telling black stories.

Writers are forever refining their writing process. Janice Hardy discusses why using fill in the blank writing templates doesn’t work, while Aminah Mae advises that there is no wrong way to write a book.

Often in writing, the devil is in the details. Indeed Michel Leiris looks at the great details that make great art. Janice Hardy asks if we’re using enough sensory details in our descriptions, and Jordan Dane gives tips for writing believable conspiracies for thriller fiction.

Details of craft elements can also elevate our writing. Dana Sitar explores using tone and voice properly in your writing, Linda Yezak explains past continuous and past perfect verb tenses, Melissa Donovan guides us in making the right word choices for better writing, Sherry Howard  demystifies motif, and Donald Maass reminds us that it’s all about the mystery.

Because who is telling the story is vital, Janice Hardy reviews point of view basics. Once we know what characters will inhabit our story, we need to flesh them out. John B. Jamison has 3 ways to discover who your characters really are, K.M. Weiland shares 6 requirements for writing better character goals, and Fae Rowen lists 6 f-words for compelling characters. And because those characters will talk to each other, Julie Glover gives us 5 tips from Gilmore Girls for writing great dialogue.

An otherwise great story can fail the reader in the ending if we aren’t careful. A. Howitt discusses endings and their requirements, and Janice Hardy talk about tying up the loose ends.

After we wrestle that ending onto the page, it’s time to revise. Michael James has 7 tips for getting through your second draft, Howard Underdown explains using a revision grid to break a story down into elements, and Donna Galanti discusses letting go in writing and in life. Tara East tells us how to reduce our word count, Janice Hardy wonders whether or not to hire and editor, and Hayley Millman offers 5 tips for editing a manuscript without an editor.

Churning out those words faster and more efficiently is a goal for many writers. Stavros Halvatzis investigates how long to write each day. Cheryl A. Ossola reminds us that sometimes the story writes itself, but if you are stuck Nathan Bransford has a trick to unstick your novel. Arthur Klepchukov advises that word count goals should not be our only goals, and Lynne Shelby has tips for getting in the zone.

There are plenty of obstacles and mistakes that can make writers want to quit. Terry Odell discusses how “write what you know” can be limiting, Nathan Bransford talks about the most common mistakes writers make, Jeff Somers addressed mistakes and writing, Katrin Schumann ponders how to know when to quit your novel, and James Scott Bell urges us all to stay thirsty.


More Barnes & Noble analysis: Lauren Hirsch’s look at Elliot Management acquiring B&N, and Ed Nawotka saying that Daunt relishes the challenge of leading B&N.

Jim Milliot goes deeper into the looming tariffs clouding the printing picture, Stephanie Chandler examines audiobook production and distribution options, and Jane Friedman urges writers not to crowdsource your cover design.

Agent Janet Reid addresses two topics today: what to do with those required bio fields on portal queries when you have no publishing credentials, and what happens when an author dies mid-contract. If you write nonfiction, Stephanie Chandler explains how to locate and work with nonfiction literary agents.

Marketing is tricky. Joe Konrath tells us why our marketing plan won’t work, Eileen Omosa shows us how to organize a book signing event, and Chrys Fey explains how to prepare for outdoor book and author events.

Blogs are still a solid way to market these days. Amy Collins details how to best approach book bloggers, Sandra Beckwith has 4 reasons to embrace guest blogging, and Christian Mihai lays out how to write a great blog post headline and 8 blogging mistakes that waste your readers’ time.

Social media presence is vital to reaching readers. Maggie Lynch shares a Facebook posting strategy for authors, Frances Caballo shows us how to conquer LinkedIn, and Henneke lists 29 ways to improve your writing skills and escape content mediocrity.


Did the Tony Awards make you want to go write a musical? Electric Literature provides a handy chart to help you decide what musical to write.

Neil Gaiman discusses adapting Good Omens for the small screen.

Valerie Thompson has put together the scientist’s summer reading list, and Tony Hillerman gives us a crime reader’s guide to the classics.

Books can be a lifeline. Tyler Wetherall describes how sharing books with his dad in prison made life bearable for both of them.

Ed Simon discusses William Blake, radical abolitionist, while Joy Lanzendorfer traces Jack London from rags to riches and back again.

James Harbeck ponders the future of accented characters [letters] in English, while Sabrina Imbler is similarly intrigued with why Medieval Europeans were so obsessed with long, pointy shoes.

Those who love poetry will be happy to hear that the Emily Dickinson Museum received a $22 million gift to help carry on its mission.

That’s all for this week! Join us again next week for more writerly links.



  1. Thanks for the blog love, Kerry!


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