Posted by: Kerry Gans | August 22, 2019

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 08-22-2019

Welcome to this week’s Top Picks Thursday! We are wrapping up summer here, but the links keep coming.

Mary Kole is running a poll for published authors to gather data on the path to publication. Go add your two cents!

Many of us know that Iceland is big on books, but explore the rentrée littéraire: the annual French tradition when hundreds of books get added to TBR piles across Paris.

Matt Grant profiles 14-year-old Marley Dias, a tireless promoter of diversity in literature.

Independent booksellers are making their mark. This year, indie booksellers celebrate the first Bookstore Romance Day, while Cristy Meiners investigates how an independent bookstore survives for 90 years.

Victoria Strauss of Writer Beware exposes a plague of publishing and marketing scams from the Philippines, and Nick Ripatrazone reminds us that we have always been plagued by literary scammers.


While much writing advice can be used by any writer, sometimes the advice is genre-specific. Brenda Miller and Suzanne Paola discuss the big memoir pitfall to avoid, Sam Bleicher talks about dealing with facts in science-based fiction, and Melissa Donovan has tips on how to write a poem.

Every element of your story has to fit together seamlessly to captivate the reader. Zoe M. McCarthy has 13 suggestions for when and what to research for your story, Stavros Halvatzis lists the essential ingredients for a complete story, Roz Morris shares 7 hacks for backstory, description, dialogue, exposition, point of view, and plot; Jordan Dane discusses the key types of conflict while Becca Puglisi zeros in on the specific conflict of a delay that makes your character late, and Vaughn Roycroft examines what makes a good ending.

Laura Drake advises putting character first, Maria Arnt talks about likeable characters, Antonio del Drago explores destined and wounded heroes, Lisa Hall-Wilson gives 4 ways to go deeper with deep point of view, Jim Dempsey extols the wonders of your character’s world view, Melissa Donovan discusses creating characters that resonate, and K.M. Weiland reveals how to tell if your story has too much plot and not enough character.

Writers constantly are learning from other writers. Laurence MacNaughton has 6 rules to pump up your writing, Janice Hardy explains why writers should want nitpicky critiquers, and Nancy Johnson shows how Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye offers a master class in craft.

Writing is a lifestyle as much as a job. PeggySue Wells visits the pros and cons of writing as a dream job, Daphne Gray-Grants advises on how to deal with competing creative interests, Robert Lee Brewer has 14 Neil Gaiman quotes for writers and about writing, and Christina Delay discusses the power of the writing tribe.


If you have considered branching into ghostwriting, read these ghostwriters sharing their tales of nightmare clients.

Jennifer Scroggins explores if hybrid publishing is right for you. And any book needs to be edited before publication, so Stacey Carroll looks at how much you should pay for book editing services.

If you are designing your own cover, Renee Wittman has 4 cover design tips to keep in mind.

Want to record your own audiobook or podcast? John Wagner-Stafford walks us through how to reduce reverberation for better self-published audiobooks and podcasts.

Many writers consider a pen name for various reasons. Janet Reid talks about using a pen name specifically to conceal your identity, while Scott McCormick goes a bit broader with pen names and how and why to use them.

Marketing encompasses many different avenues to connect with your readers. Charity Bradford suggests that craft fairs are an overlooked outlet for selling books, Sandra Beckwith tries to make promotion less scary by seeing book promotion as a public service, and Amy Collins shifts the mindset from creating a fan base to creating a reader base.

Since most of our reader engagement happens online, we need to have the correct tools and the correct attitude to succeed there. Anne R. Allen warns authors against sending invasive personal-info-phishing emails to readers, Stephanie Chandler gives us a book sales page website checklist, Adam Connell has 7 effective backup plugins for WordPress, and Steven Spatz says your email list is your greatest asset as an author.

Scott La Counte shares 10 tips on how to promote a book on social media, Moss Celement brings us 6 easy ways to make your boring blog posts more interesting to read, and Cristian Mihai examines an often overlooked aspect of blogging that matters a lot.


Diana Evans asks why Dorothy West, last surviving member of the Harlem Renaissance, was overlooked for so long.

David L. Ulin takes us inside the archives—and mind—of sci-fi legend Philip K. Dick.

Cities can be dirty places to live, so the iconic New York Public Library lions, Patience and Fortitude, will get a laser bath.

Maria Popiva examines Rainer Rilke and the difficult art of giving space in love.

For Ernest Hemingway fans, A Moveable Feast is in the works as a TV series.

Rebecca Booroojian explains why thru-hikers on the Appalachian Trail are obsessed with fantasy books.

Most of us love a good saga. Roy Jacobsen explores the sagas of Iceland: some of Europe’s most enduring, complex literary works.

That’s it for this week’s Top Picks Thursday! Join us next week as we close down August and get back to the school drill.

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