Posted by: Kerry Gans | November 21, 2019

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 11-21-2019

Welcome to this week’s Top Picks Thursday! We are all gearing up for Thanksgiving this week. We hope you have someplace to go spend time with family and friends over the holiday.

In the spirit of the holiday, Sari Feldman says let’s be thankful for libraries, while Laura Raicovich examines why libraries have a public spirit that most museums lack.

In a related post, Lloyd Alter answers the question which is greener, books or ebooks?

Former poet laureate Tracy K. Smith rediscovered poetry’s power while crisscrossing rural America.

Victoria Strauss comments on a scandal engulfing independent publisher ChiZine Publications.

Doing NaNo? Amy Jones has 5 NaNoWriMo prompts for mid-challenge motivation.


If you are writing picture books, read Leslie Helakoski and Darcy Pattison’s 9 picture books topics to avoid.

Any crime writers out there? E.V. Seymour has crime writing tips for you.

Every step of the writing journey has things you should and should not do. Kassandra Lamb gives us 7 dos and don’ts for writing a series, while Anne R. Allen lists 6 dos and don’ts of writing your final chapter.

Every writer has a process. Paul D. Marks outlines his in pantsers anonymous, Joshua Lisec explains how to outline a non-fiction book so readers can’t put it down, and Peter Leavell cautions you must prepare to define yourself as an author.

Many elements of craft have to come together to make an outstanding story. Barbara Linn Probst gets to the heart of a novel (its “aboutness”), Allison Brennan says pacing is the key to scintillating suspense, September C. Fawkes urges surprising your readers in every scene, Melissa Donovan explores the setting of a story, and Laurence McNaughton has 3 secrets to writing vivid settings.

Characters—they keep readers coming back for more, and the good ones live in readers’ memories long after the book is done. Tiffany Reisz examines a character we know well in You Need More Scoundrels in Your Life: How to Write a Han Solo Hero in Six Easy Steps. Kristen Lamb goes in the other direction and reminds us that the villain can be much like you—or her. Stavros Halvatzis discusses character flaw in stories, Janice Hardy looks at how to make an unhappy character likeable, and Jim Dempsey asks: what really drives your characters? Once you’ve got your characters, Janice Hardy returns with how narrative distance works in your novel.

No matter where we are along the writing path, we always have more to learn. Meg LaTorre has 11 tips for newbies to improve your novel writing, Elaine Viets shares mistakes many writers make, and Angelica Hartgers highlights 3 areas of your fiction craft to hone.

Productivity is key to a successful career. Lydia Davis shares 10 recommendations for good writing habits, Elizabeth C. Spann suggests some writing resources, Jess Keating advises creating an imaginary panel to get unstuck, and Ellen Buikema tells how to nurture creativity through sleep.

Robert Lee Brewer has compiled 10 Lisa Scottoline quotes for writers and 10 Tess Gerritson quotes for writers, while Isaac Bashevis Singer wonders: who needs literature?

Writing can be a long journey, and it can be a mental and emotional slog sometimes. Shanna Swendson encourages us to not get discouraged—have stepping stones rather than setbacks; James Scott Bell says to delete naïveté from your writing life, K.Maze has the wellness wheel, Bill Ferris touts the hack’s guide to playing the waiting game, and Kathryn Craft advises career writers to embrace paradox.


Barbara Linn Probst delves deep into what makes readers give an unknown author a chance.

Want to do an audiobook? Take a look into the secret life of the audiobook star.

Christina McDonald shares how she hit the bestseller list with a traditionally published book.

With a look to the not-so-distant-future, Frantzeska Papadopoulou examines inventorship under the light of AI.

Self-publishers need to know the technical point of how to produce a book. Orna Ross has the 7 processes of book publishing, Reedsy tells us how to format a book (the free and easy way), Lee Foster looks at how publishing your ebook on Smashwords is changing.

Indie authors also have to know the business side of publishing. Melinda Clayton explains where to buy ISBNs, John Doppler demystifies mistakes in royalties, and Tim McConnehey explores copyright for indie authors.

People seeking traditional publishing have a great deal to figure out as well. Janet Reid discusses how to pick the best words for a query and how to know how much to leave out, Rachelle Gardner answers if age matters for writers, Nathan Bransford has the best strategy for sending query letters, Janet Reid explains why people might not want to rep a book, and Jessica Faust gives the agent’s side of preparing to make an offer of representation.

There are many marketing avenues available to authors today. Sandra Beckwith tells how to promote your books with local collaborations and gives us 10 free book promotion ideas, Jessica Strawser has 10 pro author tips for book fairs and festivals, while Sue Coletta tackles book blurbs: the good, the bad, and the hilarious.

Online provides opportunities, as well. SCBWI looks at if you are using your Twitter and Facebook headers to full potential, Emma Lombard explains how and why to build a Twitter following while unpublished, Lyn Wildwood lists the 6 best video hosting sites for content creators and entrepreneurs, and Stacey Corrin serves up 44 copywriting formulas to level up your content marketing.


Open access is important to information sharing, and it is up to librarians to make open access happen.

Love the smell of old books? Zee Krstic explains how the smell of old books could actually help experts preserve them.

Take a look at 10 stunning Scottish literary locations that inspired the setting of well-known novels (Note: Site does not work with an ad blocker turned on.)

Nicola Gardini argues that Latin is not useless, and neither is it dead.

Sadly, Venice’s legendary “waterproof” bookshop is overwhelmed by the recent floods.

Looking for something to read over the holidays? Emily Temple lists the 10 best translated novels of the decade.

That’s all for this week’s Top Picks Thursday! We will be taking Thanksgiving off, but we hope all of you have a safe and happy Thanksgiving!

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