Posted by: Kerry Gans | October 10, 2019

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

Welcome to this week’s Top Picks Thursday! Wednesday is National Dictionary Day, so look up all those words you think you know what they mean but aren’t sure.

This past week, Caldecott Award-winning author and illustrator Mordicai Gerstein died at age 83.

All writers can use writing advice sometime. Roz Morris shares 7 writing resources she uses all the time, and Jami Gold tells us how to get expert writing advice for free.

Duncan White explores the ever-present worrisome topic of book censorship, while Andrew Perrin parses who doesn’t read books in America.

Are you an audio-visual guru? Mary Kole is seeking to hire an audio-visual person.

It’s almost National Novel Writing Month again! Janice Hardy has some NaNoWriMo prep tips to start you off on the right path.


For some genre-specific writing information: Christopher Castellani discusses the universal urgency of immigrant literature, and Robert Lee Brewer deconstructs 5 spooky children’s picture books.

Plotting and worldbuilding are necessary, but the can also trip us up with all the details involved. Julie Glover talks plotting, pantsing, and personality type, Janice Hardy has the fix for when your story’s plot hides behind the details, and B.K. Bass takes a deep dive into feudal economics for worldbuilding.

Most of us give our first drafts a bit of a stink-eye glare. Joni B. Cole makes a case for you to stop trash-talking your first draft, while Lucy Mitchell tells us how to survive comparing your unfinished draft to a successful bestselling novel.

We want to keep those readers turning pages. Jordan Dane looks at narrative drive and if you have it, Beth van der Pol discusses how to stop your novel from sagging, Anne R. Allen suggests using the Chekhov’s gun tactic, and Joslyn Chase advises hooking readers with danger.

Your characters are the lifeblood of your story. Dawn Field says to develop your story by listening to your cast, Rebecca Langley has what you need to know about writing a great love triangle, Nathan Bransford lists 5 ways to make a character more sympathetic, Donald Maass explores the making of a hero or heroine, Angela Ackerman ponders how you know if your protagonist is strong enough, and Janice Hardy advises giving your reader someone to hate.

The more we can edit ourselves, the less we’ll need to pay a professional editor down the line. Susan K. Hamilton shares 7 tips to help you self-edit your novel manuscript, Andrea Merrell wants to shoot the weasel words, and Fae Rowan says to stop overusing this word.

We’re always looking to improve our craft. Beth van der Pol tells us how to get better at writing, Jill Hedgecock explains using visual inspiration for your stories, and Dana Isaacson has the Da Vinci code for fiction writers.

We love to write, but sometimes we just…can’t. Diana Hurwitz discusses overcoming writer’s block, Felicia Day talks weirdness, writer’s block and women with swords, and Tamar Sloan dissects writerly procrastination, why it happens and how to break free of it.

Shanna Swendson has tips to boost your creativity, Robert Lee Brewer has 10 Edgar Allen Poe quotes for writers, and Nancy Johnson tackles the perennial question, is your book done yet?


Looking for a home for your work? Check out this Big, Big List of Indie Publishers and Small Presses.

Any author should understand the business side of writing. Sandra Beckwith has updated book publishing statistics.

Alex Green takes us inside a New England bookselling conference energized by new booksellers.

Don’t know which way to go in your career? Colleen M. Story outlines how to get help from the universe when making career decisions.

There are always people ready to take advantage of the unprepared. Victoria Strauss unveils a pack of scammer lies to look out for.

Success in writing is a marathon. Rachelle Gardner asks: are you in this for the long haul?

There are certain parts of the marketing process most authors dislike. But we need to be able to do them well anyway. Janet Reid explains when you need backstory in your query, Jael McHenry takes on 3 of a novelist’s necessary evils, and David Kudler examines how to create compelling book descriptions in 2 parts.

Jane Friedman advise to write for yourself but market for your reader. If your readers are middle grade, check out these author-tested middle grade marketing tips and ways to take your middle grade to market.

Real-world connections can take you far. Lisa Tener tells you how to speak to journalists before your book is published (and not give it all away), Alexa Nazzaro shows how to leverage book signings, and Penny Sansevieri discusses super fans and street teams: turning readers into your biggest book promoters.

Online is a big marketplace, so learn some tips to make the most of it. Amy Collins talks live streaming for authors, Scott La Counte lays out how to promote a book on Facebook, Elizabeth Losh reveals what a hashtag can do while Kim Lochery has the definitive guide to Pinterest hashtags, and Zara Altair gives us 5 ways to use voice search to sell more books.

In the blogosphere, Dave Chesson tells us how to convert readers to email subscribers, and Cristian Mihai advises we ask ourselves: why do folks subscribe to your blog?


Libraries preserve the past. This is the world’s oldest continually operating library, where lost languages have been found. Meanwhile, modern libraries battling to retain borrowers in the digital age are ending late fees.

Take a peek inside a bookstore housed in a 100-year-old Dutch barge in London, while Kelsey Rexroat reveals the secret to shopping in used bookstores.

The literary past of a place can be powerful. Margaret Deefholts indulges in literary intoxication in Edinburgh, while BBC News brings us a story of a literary place in peril—the Reading Gaol, where Oscar Wilde spent time in prison for “gross indecency,” is for sale.

In author news, old and new: Quentin Tarantino’s next big project is a novel, Brenna Ehrlich delves into Stephen King’s fascination with “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”, and John-Christophe Cloutier investigates Ann Petry, the author who didn’t care to be remembered.

We know fiction reading makes people more empathetic, but can fiction introduce empathy to an AI?

Language can be moving, so Johanna Skibsrud wonders if language can be understood as a spiritual medium.

Lev Grossman explores why we feel so compelled to make maps of fictional worlds.

That’s all for this week’s Top Picks Thursday! Join us next week for more literary tips and tricks.


  1. Thanks for the mention.


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