Posted by: Kerry Gans | August 15, 2019

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 08-15-2019

Welcome to Top Picks Thursday! Hard to believe it’s halfway through August! Some people’s children will be back to school shortly if they aren’t already, but in my neck of the woods we don’t start until September. But learning is year-round here, so enjoy the links below!

Matt Grants brings us the urgency and inspiration at the 2019 New York City Poetry Festival.

A selection of Franz Kafka’s papers are now on display at Israel’s national library.

Jami Gold discusses content warnings and how and what to include in them.

The over 40 crowd doesn’t always fare well in fiction, especially older women. Alison Flood celebrates fiction with positive older characters.

Pirate site alert: Victoria Strauss of Writer Beware warns about the piracy practices of Kiss Library.


Some advice on different genres, other ways of writing, and writing series rather than stand-alones: Ed Rucker has 3 tips about writing a legal thriller from a criminal defense lawyer, Johanna Rothman and Marky Kilby discuss co-writing non-fiction across distance, Susanna Calkins shares 5 lessons learned about writing series, Laurisa White Reyes reveals how to write a real page-turner, and Jennifer Croft explores the daily alchemy of translation.

Writers are bombarded with advice all the time—sometimes contradictory. We have to discover what works for us. Jami Gold asks: can common writing advice be wrong?; C.S. Lakin explains when telling, not showing, emotions is the right choice, Steve Laube has 15 grammar rules that can be broken, Janice Hardy shows how to use subtext to say more with less, Elaine Viets discusses using the sense of smell on our writing, Donald Maass explores how persuasion can add tension to your story, and Janet Reid says that no matter what an agent says, do not whitewash your characters.

That said, we are lucky to live in an age where so much advice is available for free. Janice Hardy shares 4 ways to write a better novel, Emily Temple brings us writing advice from Shirley Jackson, Robert Lee Brewer has 12 Kurt Vonnegut quotes from writers and about writing, Stavros Halvatzis discusses the art and craft of creative writing, Edie Melson lists 12 tips for the best writing life ever, Virginia Moffatt gives us some unusual writing tips, and Julie E. Czerneda reminds us to instill wonder in our fiction.

Stories are wired into the human brain. Robert A. Burton says our brains tell stories so we can live, Kathryn Craft reminds us to give our reader an experience, and C.S. Lakin tells us how to evoke reader emotions with “surprisingness.

So how can we be the most efficient writers possible? Judith Briles dispels the myth of author multitasking, Kelly Allen shows how to spend less and save more, Christopher Oldcorn tells us how to find unique places to write, Julie Glover guides us toward finding the right writer organization, Shanna Swendson helps give our creativity a boost, and James Scott Bell tells us we can get more done by giving ourselves less time.


In industry news, Elliot completes their purchase of Barnes & Noble; John Doppler alerts us to Amazon KDP’s unwritten print pricing rule; and Melinda Clayton explores Audible Captions, copyright lawsuits, and other news from the world of writing.

If you want to have longevity in this business, there’s a lot you need to know. Sangeeta Mehta interviews two agents who discuss establishing a long-term writing career, Laina Turner has 10 tips on building a sustainable writing business, Kathryn Magendie discusses what to do when you lose your publisher, and Bob Hostetler shares 3 ways to embarrass your editor or agent (not good for career longevity).

Writing is going multimedia. Joanna Penn tells us how to build your own home sound booth for audiobooks and podcasting, Andrene Low talks about the trials and tribulations of DIY audiobooks, and Holly Lane lays out how to create and run an indie author podcast.

A great cover can launch a thousand book sales. Melinda VanLone shows how to create the best cover for your book by doing the cover two-step.

But what if you are going traditional? What do you need to know about querying and the way the business works? Janet Reid suggests adding your physical address to your manuscript, while Rachelle Gardner answers the question: will I have to pay back my advance? As to querying, Janet Reid explains why querying an unfinished novel is a bad idea, and Meg LaTorre reveals why writers shouldn’t query self-published books.

Marketing is something most authors need advice on to do well. Sue McGinty shares her experience with successful hometown book marketing, Diana Urban lists the top book marketing advertising tips from RWA 2019, Brian Jud explains marketing planning for first-time authors, and Stephanie Chandler looks at how a network of influence can help promote your book.

From the marketing trenches, Randi Minetor enlightens with tales from the book promotion road, and Mike Fabio gives us 3 creative pitfalls to avoid when you advertise books on social media.

Blogs—whether book bloggers’ or our own—can be a great way to communicate with readers. Nicole Pyles shares how and where to connect with book bloggers, Cristina Mihai reminds us that while blogging is all about problem solving, blogging is not just about information; and Stacey Corrin shares 9 reasons to start a blog and 7 reasons not to.


The Internet is crazy for cats. Bookmarks has put together the 9 meanest cats in literature.

Authors not being paid well is nothing new. Despite being a best-selling author, Jane Austen was paid very little—even compared to her contemporaries.

Jamie Quatro examines the hidden life of Anne Lock, the 16th-century woman who was the first English poet to publish a sonnet cycle.

Any Proust fans out there? Nine newly discovered Proust stories are to be published.

For anyone who is or has a college student, Brian Barrett traces the recent radical transformation of the textbook.

That’s all for this week’s Top Picks Thursday! We’ll see you next week for more writerly links.

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