Posted by: Kerry Gans | June 20, 2019

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 06-20-2019

Welcome to this week’s Top Picks Thursday! Friday is the first day of summer. And to get everyone in the mood, Thursday is National Vanilla Milkshake Day and National Ice Cream Soda Day – both good to cool us off while we peruse the links below.

In awards news, SCBWI announces the 2019 Crystal Kite winners, and Emily Ruskovich’s Idaho, nominated by a single library, won the 2019 International Dublin Literary Award.

Two deaths this week: Lonesome Dove screenwriter Bill Witliff dies at 79, and legendary Italian director Franco Zeffirelli, whose Romeo & Juliet introduced many a high schooler to Shakespeare, dies at age 96.

It’s summertime! Emily Temple lists 20 perfect summer books.

But to get those books in the Scottish islands, you’d need to rely on the Outer Hebrides mobile libraries.

Elsewhere, translated books gain visibility in libraries, Damian Barr examines how indie bookshops are fighting back, and John Maher explores how the internet has changed book culture.

Looking for writing contests? Erica Verillo lists 16 recurring writing contests with no entry fees.


Prose writers are always advised to read well to write well. Melissa Donovan looks at what happens when poets don’t read poetry.

Getting started often means getting all the pieces you need in place before writing. Bella Osborne tells us how to plan your novel, Jake Wolff speaks on the fine art of researching for fiction, and Yolanda Smith examines research and rabbit holes.

Then you need to build the bones of your story. Nicholas Mancusi discusses the importance of plot and inventiveness, while Kassan Warrad warns of a related problem—too little story, too many problems.

Kathryn Craft delves into when something good incites the story, while Nathan Bransford examines the other end of the story with how to write a good climax in a novel. Sarah Callender explores mood, and Dawn Field discusses building your scene quality map.

Characters must have goals or the story is boring. Jami Gold wonders if passive goals can ever be good for our story, Mary Kole has character development questions to ask and answer, and Monique DeVere shows how to raise emotional stakes. Janice Hardy walks us through describing a character’s emotions in a first person point of view, Laurence MacNaughton teaches how to use foreign languages in fiction, and Jeanette Veillette Bowerman tells us how to create multi-layered villains you love to hate.

Editing can help you catch the mistakes that will throw readers out of your story. Kathy Steinemann shares 2 punctuation blunders that puzzle readers and irk editors, Katie Doherty lists 10 writing mistakes people make all the time and how to fix them, K.M. Weiland has 5 ways to earn your audience’s loyalty, and Jim Demspey discusses how to respond to criticism.

As much as we all hate writer’s block, it’s not always all bad. Julia Roberts explores why writer’s block is a gift, and Jami Gold suggests fighting writer’s block by focusing on stronger story goals.

Much of the writing process can seem inscrutable or like magic. Lauren Acampora asks: what, to the writer, are dreams?; Katie Heaney ponders: why does writing suck?; and Jack Preston King expounds on the difference between imagination and creativity.

Getting to THE END is the goal when we first start drafting. Barbara Linn Probst takes a fresh look at “writing what you know”, Lynn Blackburn tries a word crawl as a creative way to make your word count goal, and Bill Ferris shares the top 5 hacks to overcome writer burnout.


Writers conferences abound, but what do you do if crowds are not your thing? Cat Rose has tips how to survive a conference even if you’re an introvert.

As MailChimp changes its terms, Rachel McCollin tells you how to switch from MailChimp to MailLite for budget-conscious authors.

Georgie Hockett gives us 7 ways we can make more money from your book.

Agent Janet Reid gives us 5 reasons she passed on your query, whether pre-publication podcasts are a good idea, and what repercussions could be if you write about a public figure in an uncomplimentary manner in your novel. If you need a book proposal, Tamela Hancock Murray has book proposal basics. And once you have an agent, Nathan Bransford discusses how to work with literary agents on edits.

Marketing can be a hard slog. Dan Blank describes how he helped an author grow her platform from scratch, while Sandra Beckwith tells us how to snag book publicity with a roundup article. Eric Simmons lays out how to get your book into libraries, Dan Smith has 8 tips for marketing self-help books, and Elaine Viets shares confessions of a book reviewer.

Online resources are a great way to stay in touch with your readers. Cristian Mihai looks at how to find your blogging muse, Nate Hoffleder lists 14 content ideas for author newsletters, and John Burke gives us 6 elements of a successful author website.


Timothy Greenfield-Sanders talks about bringing Toni Morrison’s life to film.

Sometimes children’s stories are more than they seem. Sarah Blackwood discusses the quiet subversiveness of Amelia Bedelia.

Nicole Robertson takes us inside the great bookstores of Paris, and The Strand Bookstore is granted landmark status despite the owner’s objections.

Alexis Hall examines if Sherlock Holmes had more in common with the American hardboiled noir than with the English puzzle mystery.

Preserving a literary landmark: Ally Findley details the fight to save the real-life pharmacy from James Joyce’s Ulysses.

That’s it for this week’s Top Picks Thursday! Join us next week for more literary links!

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