Posted by: Kerry Gans | October 3, 2019

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 10-03-2019

Welcome to the first Top Picks Thursday of October! Get your reading glasses on, because next week is both National Mystery Series Week and National Newspaper Week.

Don’t feel bad about the time you spend reading. A study shows that people who read a lot of books are way nicer, kinder, and empathetic.

Emily Temple profiles 7 writers who are among the recipients of the MacArthur “genius” grants this year.

Censorship is always an issue. Megan Volpert shares one teacher’s tale of defending Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale.


So many genres, so little time! Lisa Latte explains the 10 essential elements of cozies while Debbie Young defines a cozy mystery and why they are so popular. Derik Caignano has 5 essential elements of unforgettable crime thrillers, Piper Bayard shares 10 character traits of an espionage hero, and David Mark Brown explores collaborative writing in a shared world.

Plot moves the story, but it isn’t the whole story. Janice Hardy warns don’t let the plot hijack our story and explains why your plot isn’t working, but Kristen Lamb suggests that motive is the real force behind page turners.

Writers have many craft elements at their disposal. Kris Kennedy explores essential backstory, Bonnie Randall shows how to sprinkle the seeds of backstory, Gavin Hurly examines the effective use of repetition in writing, Stavros Halvatzis looks at exposition, and Robert Lee Brewer defines the MacGuffin and how writers have used it.

Lisa Tener shows how to write your way out of “the messy middle”, Elle Carter Neal has 5 proven ways to add humor to your story, Clare Langley-Hawthorne examines toxic romance, and Alyssa Hollingsworth explains why your character (and you) should be an expert at something.

Once you’ve got that first draft, the revision work begins. Angela Ackerman wonders: should we seek out writing feedback?; James Scott Bell shares rookie mistakes indie writers make, Janice Hardy reminds us to check for cardboard conflict, and Ray Rhamey posits that reading aloud needs to be more than reading out loud to be effective.

Sometimes we have too many ideas, sometimes not enough. Ruth Harris discusses when to follow that seductive new book idea, while Kate Angus talks about the importance of fallow periods in writing.

We all go into writing with ideas on how writing “should” be. Rachelle Gardner challenges our assumptions, Anthony Doerr throws out all the rules for writing a short story, Denise Webb examines self-belief vs. self-delusion, and Kristen Lamb asks: do some people lack the talent to become a successful author?

Frankie Thomas demystifies poetic meter with a viral tweet story, Amy Jones compiles 10 Alice Hoffman quotes for writers and 10 Ann Patchett quotes for writers, Melissa Donovan shares how to cultivate and save your best writing ideas, and John J. Kelley discusses writing from the heart in a lesson learned from Truman Capote’s “A Christmas Memory.”


A few articles on intellectual property this week: Stan Lee’s daughter sues to reclaim his intellectual property, and Mathilde Pavis explores the legal twilight zone that is intellectual property in outer space.

Alexandra Alter looks at the issues of fact-checking in publishing as mistakes are embarrassing the publishing industry.

For those who need a few tips on how finances in publishing works, Paula Munier lists 10 financial rules for writers.

Traditional or self-published, you need a pitch line for a novel, so Janice Hardy walks us through crafting your novel’s pitch line. Once you have that, you can get to querying, so Heather Webb outlines query dos and don’ts.

Agent Janet Reid explains the value of an electronic footprint and why sometimes agents just don’t want to rep a book, while Carrie V. Mullins shines a light on what writers need to know about morality clauses.

Marketing is all about platform. Brooke Warner describes what all the fuss is about with author platform, Nathan Bransford has 32 book marketing ideas, and Lesley Tither shares some outside the box book marketing.

Getting the word out about your book is the key to success. J.D. Lasica gives us a blueprint for your book launch, Penny Sansevieri shows how great Amazon book descriptions help indie authors sell more books, Sandra Beckwith shares 9 places to find readers who write reviews, and Adam Cushman lists 10 types of book trailers.

Blogs and newsletters are some tried and true methods of connecting with your readers. Cristian Mihai asks: how many topics should a blog cover?; Jordan Peters wonders: are you a hoarder of blogging ideas?; Stacey Corrin has 40 different types of content you can create for your blog, and Nate Hoffelder reveals 10 reasons readers unsubscribe from newsletters.


Is good writing good writing no matter what the format? Cormac McCarthy’s tips on how to write a great science paper.

After 137 years of service, Bisbee, Arizona’s library is declared the best in America.

Readers struggle to balance re-reading with the TBR.

An author attempts to sell self-published book to 50 bookstores in 50 days and learns a lesson along the way.

An examination of Jane Eyre translated into 57 language shows how different cultures interpret Charlotte Bronte’s classic novel.

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


  1. […] Great news for Newark: Candace Taylor reports in The Wall Street Journal that Philip Roth left more than $2 million to his hometown library in Newark, NJ. […]


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