Posted by: Kerry Gans | August 1, 2019

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 08-01-2019

Welcome to the first Top Picks Thursday of August! This summer is flying by for me, how about you?

In author news, Lois Wille, 2 time Pulitzer Prize winning Chicago journalist, dies at 87.

In literary award news, the Man Booker Prize names their 2019 longlist.

Sylvia Arthur discusses opening Ghana’s first subscription-model library, while here in the US Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg examines how library ebook lending poses a rising problem for the publishing industry, and Macmillan’s response of only selling one copy per library for the first 8 weeks.

Most authors will relate to Karen Olsson as she explains why she doesn’t read all her books.

Check out the series of literary events the National Book Festival is adding this year.


While we often talk generic writing advice here, sometimes we run across great genre- or format-specific articles. Lyndsie Manusos asks: what are chapbooks and why should you read them? Now Novel has 5 lessons from great writers on how to start a short story, Maria Grace explains that science fiction is more than gizmos, and Michael Gallant shares 10 tips for creating your first children’s picture book.

Everyone’s process is different, and so our starting points differ. Some people start with a title, some with world building, and some with research. James Scott Bell tells us how to come up with a title, Justin Attas discusses creating a credible magic system, and Sue Coletta details how and where to research historical crime.

Description seems to be on blogger’s minds this week. Mary Kole looks at novel scene description, Janet Reid shows how description that stops the story dead can lead to rejection, and Janice Hardy lays out how to write description without going overboard.

Characters bring our stories to life, so how we draw them is essential to a compelling story. Kassandra Lamb explores the right way to include multiple points of view, Angela Ackerman tells how to avoid the boring stuff in character description and character building for pantsers, and K.M. Weiland describes the 2 heroic character arcs.

Revision is the way to make our good story great. Nancy J. Cohen discusses what to do after you finish the first draft of a book, Ureeda Asim traces content evolution from good to awesome, and Dan Brotzel lists 7 ways to write funnier fiction.

Sometimes feeding our creativity and making it last is the hardest part of writing. Electric Literature says to follow these Twitter bots for inspiration, Daniel Flanagan reveals how to write every day, W. Zeiler examines what to do when your creativity is on pause, Barbara O’Neal shares her secret to staying creative, Jordan Peters tells us how to beat blogger’s block, and Brigid Schulte dives deep into a creative woman’s greatest enemy: a lack of time to herself.

The right mental attitude can take you far in writing. Pagan Malcolm has 3 mindset shifts a writer must make if they want to become a full-time author, Laura Drake asks us to share our writing wisdom, Laura Benedict advises us not to miss deadlines, and Ann Marie Nieves urges us to embrace small victories.


Publishing is a business. Do you have a business plan? Lisa Bell asks if your writing plan is ready for a crisis.

Nathan Bransford walks us through how authors make money (both traditional and self-publishing models).

Protect yourself. Douglas Preston, president of the Authors Guild, writes about online book-selling scams that steal a living from writers.

If you are self-publishing, you have to think more about the details of the business side than a traditional author. Nathan Bransford parses what it costs to self-publish a book, David Kudler shares a CSS trick for new and old Kindles, and David Wogahn explains why self-publishing authors should consider establishing their own imprint.

If you are looking to go traditional, Rachelle Gardner explains how to find a literary agent, Jodee Blanco has tips to sell your memoir, Janet Reid advises how many rejections you should rack up before giving up, and Anne R. Allen has 8 reasons why your manuscript was rejected.

For success, you need to distill your book into its most compelling pieces. Ruth Harris dissects the art and craft of an elevator pitch, and Adam Croft explains writing hooks for your books.

Marketing takes many forms. Steve Laube answers 4 questions about publicity, Heather Webb shares notes from a book tour, and Sandra Beckwith lists 13 ways to use a book award for marketing.

Online, Nate Hoffelder has 3 secrets to an effective landing page for your site, and Sandra Beckwith explains what all authors can learn from book marketing case studies.


Do you like Sherlock Holmes? H.G. Parry brings a power ranking of Sherlock Holmes adaptations.

Read the 10 greatest opening paragraphs from the noir master Raymond Chandler.

It’s always exciting to find a previously unseen work from a classic talent. Take a look at a lost work by Langston Hughes examining the harsh life on the chain gang.

We know Picasso as a painter, but an exhibition  highlights Picasso’s poetry and ties with China.

Ever wonder about how characters would decorate their homes? Wonder no more! See how Nancy Drew, Ramona, and other favorite children’s book characters would decorate their first studio apartments.

During a dark time in his life, Gore Vidal wrote mystery novels under a pseudonym.

Check out these 12 Herman Melville quotes for writers and about writing.

R.L. Maizes asks: who needs an MFA when you have this literary fiction trope checklist?

That’s all for this week’s Top Picks Thursday! See you next week for more cool literary links.




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