Posted by: Kerry Gans | January 9, 2020

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 01-09-2020

Welcome to the first Top Picks Thursday of 2020! We have a lot prediction posts as well as regular craft and business and just-for-fun links. Enjoy and I hope 2020 treats you well!

In case you are a fellow procrastinator and still have presents to buy for people, check out these holiday gift recommendations room the HC Bookfinder staff.

Emily Temple gathers the notable literary deaths in 2019, while Bart Barnes has the obituary for author Ram Dass, who died at age 88.

Katherine J. Wu reminds us that thousands of once-copyrighted works enter the public domain in 2020, so take a look if any spark something in your imagination.

One of the great things about America being a melting pot is that as new immigrants come to our shores, our literature becomes richer. Yogita Goyal explores how African migration to the U.S. has led to a literary Renaissance.

As fallout from the Romance Writers of America upheaval continues, Mikki Kendall explains how the RWA racism row matters because the gatekeepers are watching.

Never underestimate a librarian. Kathy Peiss explores why the U.S. sent librarians undercover to gather intelligence in Europe during World War II.

Looking for critique partners in 2020? Janice Hardy’s Critique Connection is currently open for matching interested parties.

Because there were so many New-Year’s-type posts, we have a couple of extra sections today. A New Year is…


Anne R. Allen reviews a decade of self-publishing revolution, and Big Al traces the evolution of self-publishing.

We have some year-end book lists from TV critic Emily Nussbaum and from the New York Times book critics.

Then there are to Top Books lists for last year, last decade, and the last 100 years! John Milliot brings us 2019 print best sellers, Emily Temple has the 100 books that defined the decade, and the OCLC has the top 100 novels of all time found in libraries around the world.


Laurie McLean has 2020 publishing predictions, Mark Coker brings the Smashwords 2020 publishing predictions, and Orna Ross lists her 2020 self-publishing predictions.

On a more personal note, Sacha Black asks what will you do differently in 2020?; Rachel McCollin shows how to identify your writing goals, and Tasha Seegmillier ponders reflecting and goal setting for writers.

Amy Jones shares Isaac Asimov’s predictions for your future as a writer, Angela Ackerman tells how to build a roadmap to the author future you want, James Scott Bell outlines various paths a writer can take in 2020, and Bill Ferris lightens things up with a hack’s guide to making a fresh start in the new year.


There is something to be learned from every genre and form. Will Willingham discusses serial novel writing, Katherine Grubb explained how studying poetry to be a better writer, E.L. Skip Knox has how time was measured in ancient times for fantasy writers, and Grerr Macallister explores writing a genre that’s new to you.

Characters carry our stories and, if we are lucky, live on in our readers’ hearts long after the story is done. Nathan Bransford tells us how to nail every character’s first impression, K.M. Weiland discusses 6 questions to ask about theme and your supporting characters, Lynda Barry shares a comic exercise to create your characters and build their world in less than an hour, and Kathleen McCleary puts characters in the worst-case scenario.

Eldred “Bob” Bird urges us to let our characters tell the story, C.S. Lakin explains how to effectively “tell” emotions in fiction, and Donald Maass delves into emotional tipping points.

There are many elements writers need to integrate into their story. Stavros Halvatzis looks at obstacles and the foundation of structure, Mary Anna Evans leads us to finding our voice, Laura Drake reminds us to use comparison for power, Kristen Tsetsi defends the exclamation point, Christopher Hoffman diagnoses what your choice of dialogue tags says about you, and Jami Gold tackles story endings and writing a strong resolution.

Once you get to that story ending, the editing and revision begin! Joanna shares her process for after the first draft, Peter Selgin explains the wonderful thing about line edits, and Janice Hardy has 3 things to remember when revising from a critique.

How can we improve as writers? Courtney Maum lists 8 podcasts that will make you a better writer, Lisa Tener converses with the creative muse, Sorina Storia lays out 7 steps to mind map a novel, and Nicole Bross shows how tracking your word count can make you a better writer.

Can we increase productivity and creativity? Nathan Bransford tells us how to be a productive writer, Rochelle Melander gives us a guide to creativity and time, Courtney Maum explains how to kill your inner perfectionist, Ellen Buikema looks at how your workspace affects your writing, and Kris Maze shares 5 tips for a healthy writer’s life.

Writing is an art, so Meg Medina suggests you create an artistic mission statement. Robert Lee Brewer lists 12 E.L. Doctorow quotes for writers and about writing, and Dawn Field explores Edgar Allen Poe’s notion of “unity of effect.

Writing is also a psychological and emotional journey. Yemi Penn discusses overcoming your doubts and finding the power to share your story, while Karen DeBonis talks about harnessing the power of writer karma.

Understanding readers can helps us understand how and what to write. Kristen Lamb explores why humans crave stories that scare them, Bonnie Randall encourages writers to embrace the bleak in their stories, and Helen Taylor delves into why women read fiction.


There are a lot of paths to publishing these days. Sara Rosett discusses the pros and cons of being a hybrid writer. If you self-publish, you need to know formatting. Tracy R. Atkins explains special formatting for nonfiction books in Word (part 2), and Andre Calilhanna lays out what should be on your book’s copyright page.

If you are submitting to agents or editors, you are bound to encounter rejection sometime. Hank Philippi Ryan has a rejection reckoning as to why your book was rejected.

Got a new book? Great! BookBub shares how to launch a new book, Sarah Bolme explores sales techniques to help you sell more books, Martin Cavanaugh brings us 4 nonfiction marketing tools you need to know, and Jane Friedman shows us her favorite digital media tools of 2020.

Online connections are vital to a writer’s success these days. Cristian Mihai tells us how to write blog posts that get you more readers, Adam Connell has 12 powerful WordPress plug-ins to grow your email list 3x faster, and Alythia Brown discusses things that can happen when you stop chasing social media.


Jesse McCarthy explores Toni Morrison’s revolutionary, if lesser known, nonfiction.

Michael Dango dissects meme formalism on Twitter.

What sells? Elisabeth Egan says sex sells—it’s true now and it was true 100 years ago.

Brad Stulberg has 9 self-improvement books actually worth reading.

If you don’t care for self-improvement books, the New York Times has 10 new books they recommend, or you can lose yourself in these 6 long, absorbing books, or ponder the eternal lure of the boarding school mystery genre.

Marisha Pessl lists kids picture books that help children understand death.

Judging a book by its cover, Carina Pereria checks out some artsy, colorful covers.

Encurious lists 20 quotes from children’s books every adult should know, while Adam Gopnik explores storytelling across the ages.

That’s all for this week’s Top Picks Thursday! See you back here next week for more literary links!

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