Posted by: Kerry Gans | December 19, 2019

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 12-19-2019

Welcome to this week’s Top Picks Thursday! We are barreling towards the end of 2019, and holiday season is upon us, but we still have some writerly links to read with you cocoa.

Mary Kole’s Good Story Company is hiring.

Roni Loren posts about the Read Wide Book Challenge for 2020.

Erica Wagner examines how reading has changed in the 2010s, while Maria Popova lists Favorite Children’s Books of 2019.

Libraries often get caught in the middle of publishing disputes, so Guy LeCharles Gonzalez says it’s time to quantify the library’s role in the reading marketplace.

Writer Beware has long been a watchdog for publishing scams, but this week Victoria Strauss warns about vanity radio: why you should think twice before paying for an interview.

With the holidays upon us, Elle Hunt shares the etiquette of gifting books, Lisa Tener has 27 unique, bookish, and beautiful holiday gifts for writers; Colleen M. Story lists 7 ways writers can overcome holiday anxiety, and Erika Liodice has a new approach for the new year: un-resolutions.

Looking past New Year’s, Diana Hurwitz has early registration info for writing workshops and conferences in 2020.


For our poetry writers, Melissa Donovan examines rhythm and meter in poetry.

Are you working on an anthology? Marika Lindholm has 5 goals for making your anthology the best that it can be.

As beginning writers, we are often urged to imitate the greats to learn about style. Sarah Callendar wonders: is imitating the greats harmful or helpful?

Fantasy and science fiction requires creating whole new worlds, but still requires writers to connect with their readers. Gail Carson Levine has tips for writing fantasy, Toni Susnjar talks fantasy fortification technology and materials, and Joshua Rothman tells us how William Gibson, who coined the term cyberspace, keeps his science fiction real.

Writers get many ideas, but how do we develop those into stories? Jordan at NowNovel has 8 exercises to develop your book idea, Stavros Halvatzis discusses story mapping, and Barbara Linn Probst shares visual-spatial tools for mapping and enhancing your story.

You can also help focus and refine your story by examining what Jami Gold calls your core story, and by following Janice Hardy’s advice to plot with Michael Hague’s 6 stage plot structure.

Writers have many craft elements available to them, but in the end the story conveys a meaning to the reader beyond what happens in the plot. Kristen Lamb tackles “voice” and why it is important to storytelling, Jim Dempsey tells us how to manipulate your reader’s point of view, and Kathryn Craft discusses manipulating story time for maximal effect.

Characters are one of the largest elements in our craft arsenal, as compelling characters keep readers turning the pages. Mary Kole has 5 things readers need to know about character in your first pages, Dana Isaacson lays out how to choose the best names for your characters, and Laurence McNaughton gives us a compelling character arc in 4 easy steps.

Rachel McCollin dives into the debate over which comes first, plot or character; Andrea Merrell advises what to do when your characters take over the story, and Yvonne Hertzberger asks: are you in your characters?

Perhaps an even more apt question is: are your characters in you? Christian Jarrett explores how acting changes the brain when actors get lost in a role—and it may apply to writers when writing as well.

There is a lot we need to look for when we edit our manuscripts. Terry Odell has tips for that first editing pass, Geoff Palmer uses zombies to weed out passive voice, Tamela Hancock Murray talks about using dialogue tags, and Daphne Gray-Grant explains what writers can learn from green bean casserole.

Writing as a career takes persistence, strength, and discipline. Heidi Fielder discusses 5 ways to quiet your inner editor when drafting, Krysle tells how viewing her writing as a hobby instead of a job made her more productive, Lucia Tang makes the case why writers, like athletes, should cross train; and Stewart Sinclair explores what it means (and takes) to have a career in writing.

The first book is often hard, but sometimes the second book is the one that is more overwhelming. Beth Kephart shows how to kick the next book blues, and Charity Bradford tells us what to do when you want to quit.

At those times when you want to quit, having a community to support you is helpful. Rachelle Gardner asks: are you a lone ranger writer?, while Carla Spataro discusses finding your tribe.


Porter Anderson interviews Michael Tamblyn on Kobo’s 10th anniversary.

Charlotte Anne Creamore explores the effect of a no-deal Brexit on independent publishers in the UK.

We focus a lot on fiction, but here the ABPA looks at non-fiction trends.

Dominic White peers into the future to discuss changes in the audiobook business in the next 20 years.

Looking to go traditional? Brian Henry tells us why now is not a good time to query an agent.

Marketing is the key to success. Sandra Beckwith has 3 fiction marketing success tips for 2020, and Boni Wagner-Stafford gives us a guide for indie authors of book marketing strategies.

Our books are truly our best marketing tool, so we need to make the most effective use of them. David Kudler revisits the 7 things you should be including in your ebook, while Dan Brotzel discusses review copies, freebies, and author copies.

Internet marketing is tricky to quantify. Sandra Beckwith shares social media tips from the pros, and Rae Steinbach has 4 tips to optimize Facebook ad performance for authors.

If your blog is your reader outreach of choice, Cristian Mihai lists 10 techniques for opening your blog posts like an artist, and Jay Artale gives us 3 proven ways to grow a blog audience.


As the end of the decade looms, Emily Temple and LitHub compiled the 10 best literary TV adaptations of the decade and the 10 best literary film adaptations of the decade.

Jane Austen continues to fascinate. Kathleen Keenan has the best Jane Austen sentences, while Hilary Davidson goes deep on the fashions of Jane Austen’s time.

In Italy, women writers are ascendant thanks to the Ferrante effect, according to Anna Momigliano.

Here’s how to spend a literary long weekend in Chicago.

The dead do speak to us, whether it be a dead author to a reader or a dead loved one to an author. Julie Dubrow muses on the light as she saw it: on sitting in Emily Dickinson’s bedroom, and Gillian Gill discusses how Virginia Woolf’s mother haunted much of her writing.

Pairing a story-telling game with storytellers, McKayla Coyle envisions what famous authors would look like as Dungeons & Dragons characters.

That’s all for this week’s Top Picks Thursday! We will have our annual “Best of” links roundup next week, and see you again in the New Year!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


%d bloggers like this: